James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
San Francisco has always been a popular setting for detective movies. From 1940s film noir like The Maltese Falcon through the gritty ’60s and ’70s era with movies like Bullitt, Dirty Harry, and McQ, Hollywood has made the most of its picturesque neighbor to the distant north.
Though Alfred Hitchcock had filmed in the Bay area before, Vertigo was his first cinematic effort actually set in San Francisco and he makes the most of his setting.
One pivotal scene finds Jimmy Stewart’s ex-cop character Scottie Ferguson on the trail of “Madeleine” (Kim Novak), a mysterious beauty who he was asked to tail by an old college buddy who was concerned about his wife’s activities. Scottie’s surveillance leads him to the San Francisco Bay itself, where he arrives just in time to fish Madeleine out after an apparent suicide attempt.
Today’s post is the first of two this week to feature a San Francisco cop clad in a green V-neck sweater after a pivotal run-in with a blonde femme fatale…
What’d He Wear?
“Scottie, in a pair of grey trousers and an old sweater, is wandering about the room, trying to think things out,” describes Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor in their original screenplay for Vertigo.
Scottie spends most of the film in suits or sport jackets with ties, but he chooses a more dressed down approach after fishing Madeleine out of San Francisco Bay, sporting a V-neck sweater in a peaceful, muted shade of green with a white shirt and dark gray pleated slacks. The sweater has a ribbed hem and long ribbed cuffs.
Scottie’s white poplin shirt appears to be one of his usual dress shirts with a front placket and two-button rounded cuffs. He wears it sans tie and open at the neck here, allowing the long point collar to flap over the neck opening of his sweater.
When not wearing a full suit, Scottie’s trousers of choice are a pair of dark gray pleated flannels. In addition to this scene, he also appears to wear them with his brown birdseye tweed sport jacket and the blue ribbed knit cardigan.
The dark gray pleated slacks have a full fit characteristic to the ’50s with double reverse pleats and cuffs (turn-ups) on the bottoms. The high rise keeps the waistband mostly concealed under his sweater, but he bends over to reveal a slim black leather belt around his waist. There is a straight pocket along each side seam and two jetted back pockets; only the left back pocket appears to have a button closure.
Scottie still wears his well-traveled cordovan brown leather oxford brogues with medallion perforated wingtips. His socks appear to be black.
Scottie’s wristwatch is yellow gold with a round case and a black ring on the white dial, worn on a black leather strap.
Go Big or Go Home
…and Scottie’s home is a swell one!
Scottie’s apartment is located in Russian Hill, one of the original “Seven Hills” of San Francisco. The exterior shots were filmed at 900 Lombard Street, placing his bachelor pad about a block away from the famous steep and winding thoroughfare claimed to be “the crookedest street in the world.”
Inside, Scottie’s abode is decked out to define masculine mid-century modern. The long, low sofa is upholstered in a flecked taupe fabric, there’s a burgundy leather chair and ottoman for reading important books, and the entire back wall is a window shaded with Venetian blinds and peach curtains battling for supremacy at perpendicular angles.
To read more about Scottie’s apartment, check out this well-researched piece from Reel SF.
Interested in putting together your own mid-century aesthetic for your own residence? Check out Primer’s Mid Century Modern on a Dime for tips.
Scottie takes a classic and comfortable approach to his casual attire for a night in, pulling together several menswear staples for a timeless ensemble.
- White poplin dress shirt with long point collar, front placket, and 2-button rounded cuffs
- Green wool v-neck sweater with ribbed cuffs and hem
- Dark gray flannel double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Slim black leather belt
- Cordovan leather wingtip oxford brogues
- Black socks
- Gold wristwatch with round case, black-ringed white dial, and black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.