As a welcome to The Big Picture magazine team, I have recently received the book World Film Locations: San Francisco, edited by Scott Jordan Harris. As I was expecting, I am enjoying it to the full. Without having yet visited San Francisco, I have always been fascinated with the Northern California city. Of course movies have played a great part to that. I can’t really explain it, but when I see one of those hilly streets, it’s like I hit home, feel relaxed and totally emerged into the story that’s about to unfold. So maybe it’s safer to say that this book first and foremost feeds my cinephile soul, painting a beautiful picture of San Francisco on film, with brief, illustrated pieces on 46 movies and locations, alongside seven longer essays on topics that dominate the history of film-making in the city, like noir, famed car chases shot there, and Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco (one of my favourite parts).
San Francisco is as much part of Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty” Harry Callahan character as his gun-in-hand, wear-and-tear style, with his boldly checked tweed jacket and Ray-Ban Baloramas. One of the best movies of all time, Vertigo, has many, changing San Franciscan locations used to great effect, to reflect Hitchcock’s subjects’, especially Scottie’s, mixed emotions. And there is that descending opening shot from The Maltese Falcon that introduced us to the hard-boiled private detective (Bogart’s Sam Spade), one of the foundations for film noir that this movie put down. This book is a great guide to revisiting some memorable cinema moments, many of them forever intricately linked to their iconic backdrop.
photo by me