Mission San Juan Bautista, California
Mission San Juan Bautista is a Spanish mission in San Juan Bautista, California.
Founded in 1797 by the Franciscan order, the mission was the fifteenth and largest of the Spanish missions established in present-day California. Named for Saint John the Baptist, the mission is the namesake of the city of San Juan Bautista.
Hitchcock had originally planned to use the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo located in Carmel, but Herbert Coleman's daughter Judy suggested that the Mission San Juan Bautista would be a quieter location with more space for filming. 
Although the Mission had been built with a bell tower, it had been pulled down in 1949 due to storm damage and dry rot. A new bell tower was eventually built in 1976. For the purposes of filming Vertigo, the bell tower was added using special effects.
The scenes of Scottie entering the church and looking for Madeleine were filmed on location on the afternoon of October 10th, 1957. The doorway to the bell tower steps, along with the rest of the bell tower sequence, were filmed later in the studio.
Following Madeleine's death, an inquest is held at the Mission's Plaza Hall, which is located on the opposite side of the plaza to the church. The interior set was built back at Paramount and, unusually, Hitchcock requested that the set have a fixed ceiling, rather than a "wild" ceiling that could be removed to accommodate studio equipment — although this made it harder for Robert Burks to light the scene, it added an air of authenticity and enclosure to the scene.
Selection of film frames: San Juan Bautista
- official web site
- Wikipedia: Mission San Juan Bautista
- Reel SF: Mission San Juan Bautista
- Reel SF: Madeleine's inquest
Notes & References
- The Man Who Knew Hitchcock: A Hollywood Memoir (2007) by Herbert Coleman, pages 245-46
- Wikipedia: Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo
- Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco (2002) by Jeff Kraft & Aaron Leventhal, pages 140-142
- Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic (1998) by Dan Auiler, pages 84-85
- Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic (1998) by Dan Auiler, pages 104-5