Saturday, June 09, 2007

In Search of Hitchcock's Santa Cruz

After moving to the U.S. to work in Hollywood in 1939, famed director Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, recognized the need for a second "country" home away from Los Angeles. One of their desires was for a place where they could cultivate wine grapes.

Joan Fontaine, the star of Hitchcock's Rebecca, who had grown up in Los Gatos, recommended (or, according to some stories, her mother recommended) that the Hitchcock's look in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1940 Hitch bought a 200 acre ranch in Scotts Valley, just outside of Santa Cruz, which served as his second home for more than thirty years (picture at right).

I've known about Hitch's local history for a while, but only this week did I finally go in search of the Hitchcock ranch. All I had to go on were a few photos and the nonspecific address of "the end of Canham Road."

Well, I didn't find the precise house. From the way it seems, the house is probably gone, and the property subdivided into several new lots. That, or the road has moved somewhat from where it lay before. There are a couple of driveways (with severe no trespassing warnings) that may yield clues, but when I checked them on Google Earth they appear to have newer and larger structures than what I've seen in the old photos.

What I did find:

Just up the street from the Santa Cruz Pier, on Beach Hill, are two structures credited for inspiring the Bates Motel and mother's house from Psycho. (Another local house, also part of the Bates house lore, was torn down years ago.)

Of course, I captured this whole little adventure on video, including a bit about Hitch's Northern California Filmography, and an explanation of the Santa Cruz connection to The Birds.

To play the video, click on the big arrow in the center of the screen below. It's only about 3-1/2 minutes.

For more on Hitchcock in Santa Cruz, see this story from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

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