How often, when you're watching a movie by one of your favorite directors, do you wish you could be on location, watching every step of the process? With "Footsteps In The Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco," a new book by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal, you can do the next best thing: re-trace how Hitchcock made "Shadow Of A Doubt," "Vertigo," "The Birds" and even portions of other classic films, like "Rebecca," "Suspicion," "Psycho," "Marnie," "Topaz" and "Family Plot," using Bay area locations as audiences had never seen them before. When Hitchcock was lured away from the struggling British film industry to make blockbuster movies in California, he brought his Brit's eye view of the world with him. Hollywood may represent the whole world to some filmmakers, but not to Sir Alfred, who decided to recreate Cornwall, not in Barstow or Benedict Canyon, but along Point Lobos, which also doubled for Monaco in 1940's "Rebecca."
The following year, he filmed parts of "Suspicion," set in West Essex, England, along California Highway 1. For 1943's "Shadow Of A Doubt," he decided that he would set the whole movie in a typical American town, and where better than Santa Rosa, California? With words and pictures, the authors show us where all the memorable sequences in the film were actually made. Sixty years later, you wonder whether the residents of Santa Rosa ever grow annoyed with out of town visitors driving at a crawl by the places where they live, work and play. The Chamber of Commerce must not mind too much: the Hitchcock connection is one of the town's big tourism draws, as well as the fact that Walt Disney chose to make "Pollyanna" in Santa Rosa 17 years later. The film, which makes the most extravagant and stylish use of San Francisco is "Vertigo." When Hitchcock's greatest fan, Francois Truffaut, came to San Francisco in 1973, he was asked about how well he thought "Bullitt" fared with San Francisco as a background. Truffaut immediately switched the subject to the far superior "Vertigo." Certainly, San Francisco gave the sad romance between Scottie Ferguson and Judy Barton enormous glamour, mystery and atmosphere.
Clearly, Hitchcock was in love with the way San Francisco looked, felt and sounded, and the location details he selected to reinforce "Vertigo's" themes gave the movie a timeless quality that set it apart from every other release in 1958. The 288 page book is packed with directions, photographs & addresses and will definitely give you an insight into Alfred Hitchcock that you've never had before. Even if you've memorized every frame of his films, "Footsteps In The Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco" will definitely give you insights that you've never had before. It's the next-best thing to time traveling and perching on Sir Alfred's shoulder as he made celluloid magic!
© 2002 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 11/13/02
Footsteps In The Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco
Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal - Santa Monica Press