Art & Culture

UPDATED: SJB devotes day to Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ this weekend

San Juan Bautista's State Historic Park will host "Vertigo" Day Sept. 27, with tours of film locations, a dinner with a guest lecturer and a free screening of the 1958 classic film.

San Juan Bautista’s State Historic Park will be bringing some movie magic to the Mission City on Sept. 27, with “Vertigo” Day at the Park. The event honors the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak that was partially filmed in San Juan Bautista, including an iconic scene at the Mission.

This year marks the second time San Juan Bautista’s State Historic Park will be host to “Vertigo” Day. This year’s event, sponsored by the SJBSHP, the Plaza History Association and Earthbound Farms, will feature a guided tour, dinner and a screening of the movie. The hour and a half tour of the Mission and State Historic Park will emphasize film locations and fun facts about the film, beginning at 3 p.m., according to the California Parks website. Tour admission is $15 per person.

“We’ve expanded it a bit more,” said Nikki Combs, a State Park Intrepreter I. “The tours are going to be more inclusive.”

Combs said the movie-themed day developed out of past years when the park hosted a monthly movie night during the summer months.

“We always ended the season with ‘Vertigo,’” she said. “It was always the best attended and had the best weather.”

After the tours, visitors can join guest speaker Luis Camara for dinner at 5 p.m., with catering by Dona Esther Restaurant, for $35 a person. Tickets are still available and sales have been extended beyond the original Sept. 24 cutoff date. Camara will give a lecture entitled, “The Mastery and Mystery of Hitchcock.” Combo tickets for the tour and dinner are available for $45.

"I remember the first time I watched 'Vertigo' very well at 14 years old," Camara said. "I watched it on a betamax tape. It is the strongest memory – it was frustrating becuase the tape ended two minutes before the movie ended. I lived in a small town in Mexico and I didn't get to see it again for three years."

He said it was 1983 in a small town in Mexico "so its not like there were tons of copies of 'Vertigo' lying around."

Combs said organizers connected with Camara last year when they reached out the California State University Monterey Bay cinematography department to find an expert on Hitchcock. Camara teaches in the Cinematic Arts and Technology department on campus. His most recent feature film "Silencio (Silence)" is making its round on the film festival circuit and recently won best feature film at the Los Angeles Fear and Fantasy Festival. He describes the film as a surreal fantasy film with a touch of horror. He also has plans to begin shooting on a short film soon that he has dubbed experimental horror that is inspired by the story of Frankenstein, entitled "Rage In Me."

He teaches his students about Hitchcock's work and has also been influenced by the director in his own work, which includes short and feature filmes he's director as well as some he has written.

"It is impossible to escape his influence," Camara said. "He had such an impact in the way he narrates. I always learned from him the emphasis on using the camera to tell the story as opposed to the dialogue."

“He is just fabulous,” Combs said, of Camara. “We got so many insights on Hitchcock and the way he filmed. It was really fascinating to listen to (Camara) talk.”

Camara said he is looking forward to talking about films with an audience that might not be as familiar with "Vertigo" as he is.

"I always learn something new and this takes place at one of the most famous locations in film history," he said. "You are watching it where it was filmed. That's always a big kcick for an audience and any film lover. You are at the scene of the crime, so to speak."

At 8:15 p.m., the film “Vertigo” will be shown outdoors on the Plaza Lawn. The movie screening is free. Viewers are invited to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs. Refreshments will be available for purchase from the volunteer association.

“There is nothing like sitting on the lawn and watching Kim Novak run across the screen and realizing she ran right through where you are sitting,” Combs said.

She added that she would encourage those who haven’t seen the film to come out.

“If they haven’t seen it, they can go on the tour and hear the lecture,” she said, “Then finally see the film where part of it happened. It really makes a great evening.”

The film “Vertigo” stars James Stewart as Scottie, a retired San Francisco detective who has an extreme fear of heights who is asked to investigate an old friend’s wife (played by Kim Novak.) Much of the movie is filmed in San Francisco where Scottie finds himself becoming obsessed with his friend’s wife. One of the climatic scenes in the movie takes place in San Juan Bautista, in the Mission bell tower, where Scottie’s acrophobia gets the best of him. The film has been nominated for 17 awards and has won 12 of those awards. It was most recently nominated for a Saturn Award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 2013 as part of best DVD/Blu-Ray Collection, along with 10 other Hitchcock films.

“Vertigo” Day at the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park

Tour begins at 3 p.m. and runs for 1.5 hours. The tour will include film locations in the State Historic Park and the Mission, along with fun facts about the film. $15 admission

Dinner begins at 5 p.m., with catering by Dona Esther Restaurant and guest speaker Luis Camara’s lecture on “The Mastery and Mystery of Hitchcock.” Tickets are $35 for dinner or $45 for a combo tour/dinner ticket.

Movie screening begins at 8:15 p.m. on the Plaza Lawn. Admission is free to all. Bring blankets and lawn chairs.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 831-623-4881.

Melissa Anderson

Melissa (Flores) Anderson is the former city editor of the Weekend Pinnacle and Hollister Free Lance, where she covered education, county government and more. She currently works for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at San Jose State University, where she manages the College blog, newsletter and website updates. She has a master's in print journalism from the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism.