Archive for March 19th, 2013

19
Mar
13

psycho, 1960 filming locations, a then and now look celebrating the 50th anniversarry, part 1

poster, 1960

poster, 1960

Well what I thought would take a few days to compile and write about actually took close to 3 years to complete. I started this article in August of 2010 and for the longest time the original blog post has been void of any updates until now!!!!!  Hopefully to you all it was worth the wait and there will be at least 6 to 7 more entries covering all of the THEN AND NOW locations for the original 1960’s “Psycho”.   Finding the exact places where Alfred Hitchcock filmed his classic horror film “PSYCHO” took a lot more work than I was expecting, but I had a grand time in the process.  Phoenix Arizona, Gorman, Bakersfield California, and good ol Universal studios, have all changed drastically over the last 50 years.   More so than I first thought, so there were many trips to the Universal archives as well as visits to several building and planning departments  to scour over old maps to find out where all the locations used in the film are now,,, or at least where they used to be. This was an extraordinarily fun & time consuming project, but now that is close to being complete I am very happy with all the documenting and I met several new friends along the way.  So without further ado, lets travel  to Phoenix Arizona, 50 years after Hitchcock. Phoenix in 1960 was a city on the move.. It was a town becoming a modern desert metropolis. At the time the Westward Ho was the tallest building mainly because of its extremely tall radio antenna on the roof. The Westward Ho still stands today but is dwarfed by the many skyscrapers that have been built over the years. There were many controversial points of view of what building “Psycho’s” opening panorama shot was filmed from. In the shot the camera pans across Phoenix from the NE to the SE. During that pan a high rise with a large radio antenna is seen in the foreground. This is the building that has caused the controversy. In 1960 there were two downtown buildings that had large rooftop radio antennas,  sometime in the early 1970’s  the building located at Central and Adams avenue ( the building seen in the panorama shot) had its tower removed leaving the Westward Ho as the only structure with a tower. Generations of today assume the Westward Ho to be the building in the foreground.. I assumed this to be true when I started to do these pictures and quickly found out that the location was to far to the North to set up the shot, and there weren’t any tall buildings around the Westward Ho to obtain the panoramic view. After finding out that I was in the wrong spot I went further downtown and started looking again. I was thinking that this shoot was not going to be possible this far from 1960 but I kept searching. I figured it would have to have been shot from an older building on the West side of Central so I walked around until I found a place that looked promising. I was at Adams and 1st ave. and I was looking at a beautiful art deco building called the Orpheum lofts. The structure from the ground level looked like the Daily Planet building from the 30’s. Next step was to get to the roof to see if this was in fact the right place… Easier said than done.  The building is for the most part private lofts with a very secure double door set up and no phone number posted anywhere… I managed to get into the lobby by following a tenant in and ran into the security gal that was managing the floor. I asked for the owner of the buildings info and asked if I could go the roof. The guard did her job well and basically told me who to call and sent me on my way.. I made the first call outside and just got a series of other numbers to call all leading no where… I was only in town for the day so I had to find the right contact fast.. I then headed around to the back of the building and started looking for someone else to talk to.. There was a lot of construction going on in the back and after a few inquiries and a lot of, sorry we don’t no’s, I ran into the forman than was had the info I needed.. He said that there is a man named Guido Frioli who takes care of the building, the tenant’s and all the repairs at the Orpheum and that he would be a good man to speak to. More inquiries got me his phone number and I gave him a call.  Guido was extremely nice and invited me in to talk more. Back through the doors I went on the tail of another tenant and I ran right back into the security gal.. I told her the story and she had me hang around the lobby till Guido came to get me. It was about 10 minutes later that he came down and I started to show him the pictures that I had grabbed from the film for reference. Guido was saying that he never heard of any movies being filmed in the building but he said lets go up and take a look. All the way up the elevator I was so hopeful that this was the place..  After the elevator ride we had to continue  through a few hallways and then up some stairs that eventually took us to the roof.. Once there we started lining up the screen grabs with the phoenix skyline and sure enough everything was falling into place.. WOW neither of us could believe it at first but the more we looked around the more we were convinced that this was the place!!!  I set my camera up on the SE corner of the building and started to shoot in the same direction as Hitchcock’s pan.  Except for a few fleeting landmark buildings we were engulfed in a sea of white and bronze skyscrapers. None of the mountain ranges from the 60’s view were visible and neither was the little hotel at the end of the pan. The building of Hitchcock’s focus was just barley behind the corner of a new high rise.. I had to back up a good 60-70 feet to get a view of it, but it was there…. It took a little bit of changing the camera views to make the “then and now” work out, but in the end everything lined up almost exactly… Guido and I were satisfied with what we discovered and he was very anxious to get a set of the final pix. next I did some street level photography from the intersection of Central and Adams looking North. some of the streets scenes lined up from the grabs I had and again another lucky stop.. There were enough older landmarks to make these pictures line up just as good as the panorama shot. Once home the big task of lining up all the new pix with the old footage began.. Hitch must have been using a 50 mm lens for his shot and my work was on a bit wider format.. Thanks be to Photoshop and it’s capacity to manipulate the images to line up perfectly with the 50 mm material. after a few days of work I had about 15 fantastic line ups but I was left with a bunch of new questions needing answers that could only be answered with another trip to Arizona. Here is the first volley of images put together in a manner so as to best let you see the differences from the same point of view from the 1960’s. The 2010 images are shown in B&W so as to make the comparisons work better…  There is a lot of text on each picture and this site allows you to click on each picture 2 0r 3 times to enlarge.. Lots of tiny details to be seen at more than a glance.  Enjoy and can’t wait for part 2.

then and now panoramic compilation of the opening sequence of Psycho

then and now panoramic compilation of the opening sequence of Psycho

This is the Orpheum lofts. the very building used as Hitchcock's vantage point for his establishing pan across Phoenix.

This is the Orpheum lofts. the very building used as Hitchcock’s vantage point for his establishing pan across Phoenix.

The Phoenix Police Museum buildingon the left, AKA the hotel from Psycho

The Phoenix Police Museum buildingon the left, AKA the hotel from Psycho

a street level view of the hotel

a street level view of the hotel

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