Footsteps in the Fog – Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Levanthal

Footsteps in the Fog – Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Levanthal

2002 – Santa Monica Press – 286 pages

As Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter Pat states in her foreword to this book, Hitchcock had a fondness for the Bay Area.  He thought of San Francisco as a very cosmopolitan city, which he enjoyed both personally and professionally.

This volume details the movies that Hitchcock filmed in the greater Bay Area.   There are chapters on Shadow of a Doubt, Vertigo, and The Birds, as well as a chapter highlighting a few scenes from other Hitchcock films that were shot in the area.  The book closes with a chapter on Hitchcock’s personal connection to the Bay Area.

This book is a detailed pictorial representation of where the movies were filmed.  The authors go through the movies chronologically, and as the plot is outlined, they share the very specific location where every scene was filmed.  There are literally hundreds of black and white photographs, comparing the locations as they appeared in the movies, with their appearance at the time the book was being researched and written.

There are also several detailed maps and sidebars that offer more of San Francisco’s history.

For anyone who is planning a “Hitchcock tour” of Northern California, this volume is absolutely indispensable.  I had it with me when I traveled to Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Bodega Bay, and it came in handy more than once.

I also learned quite a bit about several Hitchcock films, such as the way Hitchcock altered the geography of the Bodega Bay area on screen to serve his narrative purposes.  Also, I never knew that Hitchcock filmed some scenes from Family Plot in San Francisco, or that a handful of the “Cuban” scenes from Topaz were filmed near Salinas.

My only quibble with this book is the layout.  It is a “coffee-table” style book, about 8 inches tall and 11 wide, which makes it a bit awkward in paperback form to hold and turn pages, especially when referring to it while travelling.   This is of course no slight against the authors, who clearly spent a considerable amount of time compiling their material for this book, and did an admirable job.

If you are from the Bay Area, or plan to visit, then this book is recommended.

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Avid movie lover, reader, and writer.

2 thoughts on “Footsteps in the Fog – Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Levanthal”

  1. It was this book – which I discovered at my local library many years ago – that led me to seek out Bay Area locations featured in Hitchcock films. Since I live in the area, I’ve been able to see just about everything. It’s interesting to note that the Santa Rosa house featured as the family home in “Shadow of a Doubt” is on the same street just a block or so from the Victorian mansion featured in “Pollyanna” (1960).

    I was fortunate to have dined at Ernie’s years earlier, before it closed in 1995. It was very much as depicted in “Vertigo,” as was the old Podesta Baldocchi florist shop, now also long gone. Even more exciting (for me), I once worked in the building that had been Ransohoff’s dept. store, also featured/recreated in “Vertigo.” I was told that our offices had been the store’s “fine women’s clothing” dept. where the scene of Judy’s wardrobe makeover was set. Architectural details had not changed, nor had the general layout of the space. What a thrill for a Hitchcock lover.

    1. I visited the “Shadow of a Doubt” house, but had no idea the “Pollyanna” house was so close. That must have been amazing to dine at Ernie’s. And to work in the old Ransohoff’s building. That is so cool! You got a real taste of the San Francisco of “Vertigo”.

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