Regular readers of this blog may recall that I am a movie nerd. I have successfully managed to inspire my sons into being movie nerds too, especially the middle two kids. I have not indoctrinated them, of course, but my enthusiasm for film has transferred to them and now we can all enjoy watching movies together, analysing them, comparing them, and obviously being entertained by them. As a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, I have given my kids a gentle introduction to his movies. We started with ‘The Trouble with Harry’, then moved on to ‘Rear Window’, and then ‘The Birds’. When I told them that we would be staying in the area where ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ (which they have not seen) and ‘The Birds’ were filmed, they were eager to go and visit the locations. I was happy to oblige. Mr Pict had accompanied me on the same mission 17 years before so was also happy to indulge us this time.
We decided to focus on Bodega and Bodega Bay since the kids had actually seen ‘The Birds’ and would recognise the locations. When we reached Bodega, we drove up to the church and parked up. The kids and I got out and wandered the few yards to the Potter House. This is a private residence so, rest assured, we were careful not to be intrusive or to cause a commotion. The house was built in 1873 and originally served as a schoolhouse and it served as the school building in the Hitchcock movie, the set of an important scene in the film and, therefore, featuring prominently. Of course, we could not resist acting out the film but we wanted to be respectful of the local residents so we acted it out as if it had been a silent movie. My kids are such ham actors. St Theresa’s church can be glimpsed during that scene so we took some photos and reenacted some silent action scenes there too.
The movie creates the impression that the schoolhouse and church are right on the coast but, in fact, Bodega is a short drive inland from the bay. We, therefore, jumped back in the car and headed to Bodega Bay. The main focus of our visit to the town was the Tides Restaurant. It plays a prominent role in the movie and is still identifiable as the key location, despite being remodelled a fair bit since the 1960s. When I was last there, it felt very much like Bodega Bay barely tolerated the Hitchcock connection. Apart from one leaflet, there was nothing that declared the place to have been related to the movie. This time, however, it appeared that the town had embraced the movie as a tourist opportunity. Inside the Tides there were ample references to the film, from stuffed ravens to a mock up of a building with smashed windows. More opportunities for ham acting, in other words. The kids bought some ice lollies and we stepped out onto the back deck to look at the bay. We could see the spit of land opposite where the Brenner house stood (it was torn down immediately after filming), the road where Tippi Hedren drove out to that house, and the jetty where she rented a boat to cross the bay.
Once everyone had finished their iced treats, we jumped back in the car and headed along the coastal road to Salmon Creek Beach. It was early evening by this juncture and the air was distinctly chilly. There was no way the kids were even going to go for a paddle, let alone a swim. However, we found a new way to keep them entertained. The beach was covered with little huts that had been built out of driftwood. They were really great, really competently built structures. I don’t know who had erected them and for what purpose but I do know they would fare a lot better than I would if marooned on a desert island. That inspired my kids to gather up driftwood and build their own structure. We ran out of time before they got anywhere near completed but it kept them entertained for over an hour. They also found a washed up, decaying cow carcass. I am sure most people’s kids would recoil at such a discovery but my kids reacted like they had found buried treasure and studied the corpse, fascinated. It’s possible I have exposed them to too much Hitchcock after all.