Book Review: Hitchcock’s California

Visiting filming locations is a passion of mine, so much so that it has its own category here on the blog. Sometimes these are places that I visit for a reason other than the fact it was used in a movie, such as the more recent post of the LA County Poor Farm, sometimes I visit places purely because it was used in a film, which was the case for many locations in my very first filming location post, way back in 2012, when I explored San Francisco on my own, hunting down various locations filmed in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo. So, when I was approached by photographer Robert Jones to review his latest project, Hitchcock’s California, I promptly said yes.

The book Hitchcock's California, which features an image of a bay on the cover with a seagull in the foreground. Text overlay at the top of the photo reads "Just Finished..."

Hitchcock’s California is a large book, with wide pages to accommodate the cinematic photos that capture Hitchcock’s locations in a similar format to what they were on screen. Before the photos reveal themselves, there is an introduction by actor Bruce Dern, who starred in Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot, followed by several pages written by the team behind the project, including Jones. Jones shares his first time watching a Hitchcock film, and how the master of suspense influenced him. Jones also expands upon how locations, especially for Hitchcock films, are a story element, and are so purposeful, adding to the story, almost becoming a character in their own way. Another team member to this project was Aimee Sinclair, a passionate photographer who arrived with little knowledge of Hitchcock, but left with a new love of his work found through these stunning locations.

One part art book, one part filming location book, the photos inside Hitchcock’s California work to recreate shots in Hitchcock’s films, and in many cases, they feel completely and utterly as if they have been ripped from the films themselves, giving the viewer the same feelings as they may have when watching the films. Many locations are the same, and which in many ways is reassuring. It’s nice knowing one can visit a place seen in a film and see little change. The photos let the locations speak for themselves, and showcasing their importance in the films. Even without actors, these places have gravitas and weight to them, as they have become iconic and synonymous with the films.

In the later half of the book there is a discussion between Jones and Dan Auiler that covers the process of the project, the idea of “Hitchcock tourism,” and more. The discussion is followed by an afterward by Dorothy Herrmann, the daughter of Bernard Herrmann, the composer behind so many of the iconic musical moments in Hitchcock’s films.

Hitchcock’s California is a love letter to Hitchcock’s work, and the lure of filming locations. We want to step on hallowed ground, and walk where our favorite actors, directors, etc. walked. And, for many, including myself, we have a desire to recapture that moments in film that have been so inspiring to us.

Hitchcock’s California is available for pre-order here, and will be released July 1.

Jones and I both have a passion for Hitchcock and roadside Americana, and he also produced Garish, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. You can read it here.

Disclaimer: I was approached by the author and photographer, Robert Jones, to write a review of Hitchcock’s California, and received a copy free of charge.

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