Welcome to part 3 of the “then and now” filming locations from Mr Alfred Hitchcock’s incredible motion Picture, “PSYCHO” Growing up in Phoenix Arizona and being a huge fan of movies, I was always very excited when I would hear about a film that was made in my own home town. four favorites come to mind. Robert Zemeckis’s “Used Cars”, John Carpenter’s “Starman”, the Coen Brother’s classic “Raising Arizona” and a little movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock called “PSYCHO”. When I got the Psycho on DVD a few years back I loved being reintroduced to this masterpiece. There was even a bonus disc filled with extras and a brilliant documentary on the making of the film. When I was watching all of this very new information about the movie I started to wonder if any of those old locations in Phoenix still existed. On my next trip home I was downtown and found the hotel and was amazed it was still standing. from there on my curiosity got the best of me and I was inspired to document what I could find of Hitchcock’s original filming locations. Today’s insert features all the street level locations, that were used as background materiel for a series of processed shots to be mixed with live action scenes shot at Universal Studios. I have made a couple of maps that will piece all of the Phoenix shots into perspective as well as some vintage imagery that helped solve a lot of mysteries. Two of the shots were giving me a lot of difficulty in locating and I was almost ready to write them off as spots that no longer existed. While searching the internet for old downtown PHX pictures I kept coming across a series of pictures in large formats from the 30’s through the 50’s. By following the pix to their origin I came across the website of a gentleman named Brad Hall. Brad was a graphic designer for Valley national bank ( which is one of the featured landmark buildings in Hitchcock’s pan across PHX) and is also a very passionate historian in regards to everything Phoenix. I wrote Brad about some of his pictures and we became fast friends and fans of Arizona and motion picture history. When ever I would have a question I would send it over and within a few hours a cornucopia of images would be sent my way.. It was easy finding the shots looking North on central. but the shot looking out of the real estate office was making me crazy. Brad solved this one single handily and it also helped to figure out what the second unit was up to 50 years ago. Back then movie making was much simpler and looking at the shots in the film verses where they were filmed was completely done with common sense. basically all of the street level shots were done at the intersection of Central and Adams. For the intersection shots the camera is looking North and one shot is slightly to the NE. The street scene viewed from the Real estate office is from the SE corner of Adams looking to the East. Janet Leigh’s hotel is 2 blocks to the south also on Central Avenue, and the Orpheum lofts (the roof top Panorama shot) is one block to the West down Adams. The rear view mirrors shots start at Central and Adams, looking to the South down Central as the camera car drives North. The final shot of Janet Leigh driving out of town was probably the most difficult place to find of all. the scene is a POV shot looking out of the window of the car. There is a divided roadway and a set of train tracks to the right. From the direction from which the sun is setting in the shot, you could tell that the road was heading N.W. diagonal to the more common compass point roadways in Arizona and California. Mr. Hitchcock also filmed in Bakersfield CA and I was sure that he had filmed this shot on the 5 freeway (the 99 in 1960). The roadway is diagonal and looks exactly today as it does in the film but there are no train tracks. I thought then that perhaps it was San Fernando road by Universal Studios. It’s diagonal with train tracks on the right but there are to many mountains all around to get the same clean shot. I was at a loss.. During one of Brad and I’s conversations, I asked if the train Tracks were on the right side of Grand AVE. Grand Ave, is a diagonal roadway that starts a few blocks away from all of the downtown PHX locations. He said yes and I sent him over the film grab and sure as night is black we had found the roadway used for this scene. Brad knew all the history of Grand Ave, and in the 60’s this was the only way to get from California to phoenix. There was a small town called Marinette (which is now called Sun City) and this is where we thought these road shots were taken from.. I raced out to Phoenix and did some shots on Grand and the are was no longer an open road but a sprawling city scape with no open areas to be found in the old Marinette city limits. Aside from the build of of business’s, the street and tracks were in correct placement so I did a possible then and now picture correlation. To help tie in the “then and now” images I pictured everything in B&W and added car hoods and set exteriors from the original film to help tie in the difference from the same point of view. It was very nice to do this section with Brad and we look forward to one day meeting in person.. All of our correspondents were via email. As much as I wanted to think we had found the right road, the more I looked at the pictures the more I was realizing we were wrong… I did a bit more research and found that the second unit actually filmed the road shots on Highway 99. As I had mentioned earlier the 5 and the 99 en-route to Bakersfield looked right but did not have the train tracks. A big tip from Universal stated that the filming was done on the 99 but on the other side of Bakersfield. More research shined a light on the fact that Hitchcock traveled this road to the cornfield used in his film “North by North West” I took a quick trip out and the roadway started to look like the right filming location. The route used was the 99 between Bakersfield and Fresno. So in addition to the mistaken Grand Avenue shot, I have just added the route 99 shot and I hope you all enjoy the comparisons. Be sure to check out Brads page linked below and get ready for a lot of pictures.
This will conclude the Arizona portion of the then and now series of locations. Next we move on to Gorman California.