Hitchcock & Sonoma County

When the powers that be in Hollywood decide that it’s time for a revival, they generally do it in a big way.

Not one, but two new Snow White movies released within months of each other. Not one, but three new Hobbit movies, to be released over the next few years. Not one, but three new movies about Abraham Lincoln – one in theaters now, one that is yet to be released, and one that depicts the 16th president of the United States as a vampire hunter.

I could go on but you get the picture. Given this tendency is it any real surprise that Alfred Hitchcock is enjoying a major renaissance of sorts at the moment?

The new film Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlett Johansson is lighting up theaters right about now and getting all sorts of awards season buzz, primarily for Helen Mirren who has earned nods for her portrayal of Alfred Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor’s Guild and the London Film Critics Circle, among others.

This all comes on the heels of the release of HBO’s The Girl which stars Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as his beleaguered muse, Tippi Hedren.  The latter film is of particular interest to fans of Sonoma County because it is largely about the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds, the most memorable bits of which were shot in and around Bodega Bay.

Though there are some inconsistencies between the film and real life, fans of the The Birds and HBO’s The Girl will be pleasantly surprised to find that many of the landmarks from the film are still intact and easily recognizable.

The Potter Schoolhouse, for instance, is not on the bay as the film suggests, but it still stands proudly on a hill in the town of Bodega, practically begging to be photographed (though it is closed to the public these days).

And of course there is St. Theresa’s Church – also in Bodega – and Bodega Bay itself to experience along with all the quaint shops where there is no shortage of Hitchcock memorabilia. (Bodega Bay is the name of the bay and the name of a separate town from Bodega. Yes, confusing, I know.)

Given that Bodega Bay is one of the most romantic spots in Sonoma County, this renewed interest in the locale only offers yet another reason to pay a visit. Maybe combine a little sightseeing and trinket shopping with dinner at The Duck Club at sunset?  Just a thought.

Diehard Hitchcock fans might also want to pop over to Santa Rosa and visit the house at 904 McDonald Avenue, where Hitchcock shot much of his film Shadow of Doubt which preceded The Birds but inspired the director’s love affair with Sonoma County.  He apparently loved Santa Rosa so much he had to come back. Sound familiar?

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