Forget the Golden Gate Bridge.

Forget the trolley car.

Even the long awaited trip to Alcatraz was on hold.

First things first.

On the morning of our second day in San Francisco, our first outing was to the Legion of Honor Museum. Time was of the essence — first in line when the doors opened.

Located in Lincoln Park and perched above San Francisco Bay, the museum opened on November 11, 1924 in honor of the 3,600 California men who died on the battlefields of France during WWI.

The courtyard at the museum showcases one of approximately 20 large-scale bronze castings of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

Inside, everything from Rembrandt and Monet to Grecian urns and French biscuit figurines.

Every piece of art — whether permanent or borrowed — was exquisite.

The art, however, paled in comparison to the real reason I wanted to visit the Legion of Honor Museum.

It had everything to do with Jimmy Stewart and the 1958 movie “Vertigo.”

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and filmed in and around San Francisco, the thriller centers around retired detective Scottie Ferguson, who developed acrophobia and vertigo after a police officer died attempting to save him.

Ferguson is hired by Galvin Elster, an old college buddy, to follow his troubled and near suicidal wife Madeleine.

Hitchcock, who had a fondness for San Francisco, takes the audience to all the famous spots — Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco Ferry Building, and Muir Woods.

And, of course, The Legion of Honor Museum.

That is where my fascination begins.

I have always been drawn to the outside and inside shots of the museum.

So, there we were, standing right where Stewart stood while looking at The Portrait of Carlotta.

We then were on the hunt for two paintings which flanked Stewart in a close up shot. And find them we did. Much rejoicing.

Next to Frank Capra’s 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Vertigo” is second on my list. Both, of course, star Stewart.

To say our trip to the Legion of Honor Museum was thrilling is an understatement.

As our visit came to an end, and as Dan and I walked by the hall where Stewart stood, I said farewell to a place I will more than likely never see again.

The movie, well, I will have that for always.

“The great thing about the movies,” said Jimmy Stewart, “is you’re giving people a little ... a tiny piece of time ... that they’ll never forget.”

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at

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