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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19 Responses to “psycho, 1960 filming locations, a then and now look celebrating the 50th anniversarry, part 1”

  1. 1 Marc Fraley
    March 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    This is fascinating to see being an Arizona native myself! Very good detective work John! Thanks for posting these pictures and I look forward to seeing future installments!

    • 2 johneaves
      March 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks Mark….. this was a lot of fun to do and hopefully there will be more up tomorrow.. Are you in PHX???

      • 3 Marc Fraley
        March 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

        I am in Mesa actually, but grew up in the Casa Grande area. I have visited Phoenix many times over the years.

      • 4 johneaves
        March 20, 2013 at 6:19 am

        MESA!!!!! your in the heart of the 1980’s film Used Cars. I believe the lot they used was Darners on Main.

        Casa Grande had the biggest Bull Frogs and Rattle Snakes that I ever saw as a kid.. I hated getting stuck outside when the sun went down!!!

      • 5 Marc Fraley
        March 20, 2013 at 10:13 am

        I loved playing outside as a kid. The heat never seemed to bother us and after dinner and chores of course, we could play outside until the street lights came on. And as you know in Arizona, in the Summer, it stays light outside until 10 p.m.! I never had a problem with rattlesnakes or bull frogs that I recall…saw them on occasion.

        I guess I will have to check out Darners on Main and the movie Used Cars! I have not seen the movie, but have heard of it. Over the years, a lot of films have been made in Arizona (lots of westerns). I still venture down to Old Tuscon on occasion for nostalgic fun! Good stuff!

    • 6 johneaves
      March 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

      OH YEAH!!! all the westerns and old Tucson,, I love em all. Used Cars is a lot of fun and shot all over Mesa and west PHX & Buckeye My uncle lived in the orchards on the far East side of town. The big frogs would come out and then the big snakes would come out.. The road heading back to the freeway always looked like a rope truck that had lost it’s load for 7 miles… The streets were covered with snakes warming their bellies on the hot nights asphalt.. We did the same and played till dark..sure miss all that!

      • 7 Marc Fraley
        March 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        The snakes on the road is still a common sight, especially in the Spring. We like to drive up around Las Sendas mountain in East Mesa and always see them stretched out on the road once it starts warming up. 🙂

  2. March 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Wow, John! That’s terrific. I take those light-rail tracks to work every day. Tomorrow I’ll be looking with new eyes.

    In 1992 I spent the weekend at Westercon in the building that now says Copper Square. I spent a lot of time on the building looking to the north from the main balcony. Why is this important? Because when I got home that Sunday night I watched Psycho for the VERY FIRST TIME EVER. And what is the opening shot? That blasted building!

    • 9 johneaves
      March 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      How funny!!!!! you were right in the heart of Hitchcock country!!!!!

      • 10 Tallguy
        March 20, 2013 at 10:21 am

        I still am! Ok, I’ve got it all mapped out. I’ll be bugging my fellow light-rail riders about the buildings we pass now. “Hey, did you see Psycho? Did you know that THAT is the hotel at the beginning of the movie?”

      • 11 johneaves
        March 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

        very fun.. just posted part two and tomorrow I will put upso good maps for you.

  3. March 20, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Great way of showing a city’s development, John, but let’s not forget the movie! Simply one of the best thrillers of all time and very few have matched it since.

    • 13 johneaves
      March 20, 2013 at 6:02 am

      It is one of my all time favorites!!!! have you seen the DVD with the the extras on it.. The making of Psycho is brilliant and added so much.. Joseph Sefano, the man that wrote the screenplay has an extremely passionate conversation about working for Hitch and how he wrote the film from the book.. He subtly mentions what makes Norman snap… and kill Janet Leigh.. It’s not direct and it is very subtle but man does the little gesture that Perkins does at the right moment… WOOOOO gives you the willies.

      • 14 Marli Renfro Peterson
        March 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

        No I don’t have the DVD with all the extras, will have to buy one. I’ve been in contact with Stephen Rebello who wrote the book the new movie Hitchcock was based on. I will be at WonderCon the end of March at the Anaheim Conv Ctr. And of course I remember you from WonderCon SF where you gave me so many directions that I might take and quite a few that I did. Thanks again, Marli

  4. 15 Marli Renfro Peterson
    March 20, 2013 at 4:22 am

    WOW John, these photos are terrific and your due deligence is to be commended. Just the premise of this project is mind blowing – who would of thought? I love it !!! Congratulatlions on a work well done.

    • 16 johneaves
      March 20, 2013 at 6:05 am

      Oh Thank you Marli,,, I am so glad you made it over , and this was really a from the heart project….. I know this one means a lot to you and I am so happy your enjoying the images. There is more coming today

      • 17 johneaves
        March 20, 2013 at 7:10 am

        I hope I can make Wondercon… I have a rather busy schedule for the rest of the month but I am trying to get out if at all possible. If you don’t mind I would love to do an interview with you and write a special about all you did to go with this series..

  5. 18 DeanneM
    March 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Just seeing these posts…been working the past couple days. I watched Psycho after you told me to a few years ago and enjoyed seeing old Phoenix on the silver screen, but you have outdone yourself with this post!

    I’ll do a bit of magic, clean up the post a bit and dive into the details on here at work later. Just too sleepy to take both posts in at the moment. Having lived in the Valley all my life, it’s always fun to see what Hollywood has done here; but ya, things are changing at a rapid pace in the last 10 years downtown.

    Fill me in on your latest projects cause I always like your inside scoop. Call anytime!!

    • 19 johneaves
      March 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      HI BUSY DEA!!!! thanks.. my writing is atrocious!!! your help is always welcome!!! Yeah it is changing by the hour.. There is a new structure going up between the Psycho hotel and the Orpheum so when it’s done you’ll never be able to see the two buildings in one glance again.

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March 2013

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