Basic Instinct, 1992


Paul Verhoeven


visit the film locations

San Francisco: Flights: San Francisco International Airport

Tourist info: San Francisco tourism

Tosca Cafe, 242 Columbus Avenue, (between Broadway & Pacific) Northbeach San Francisco Hours:M-S 5pm-2am (tel: 415.986.9651)

Petaluma Visitor Center


Director Paul Verhoeven borrows heavily from Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco-set Vertigo.

See more of picturesque Petaluma in George Lucas's American Graffiti.

Basic Instinct filming location: Montgomery Street, San Francisco

Basic Instinct filming location: the apartment of troubled cop Michael Douglas: Montgomery Street, San Francisco

By wrapping a potentially interesting idea (role-reversal serial killer movie) in a Hitchcock pastiche, Paul Verhoeven’s movie comes over as a confused piece of homophobic misogyny. Nevertheless, the brazenly melodramatic style and lush score render this trash classic an guiltily irresistible pleasure.

The director chooses a Vertigo-esque San Francisco, with the sexually profligate Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) sporting the inappropriate Hitch uniform of sexual repression, all tightly-clenched hair and severe grey suit.

The apartment of Det Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) – where even the staircase is modelled on that of the belltower in Vertigo – is 1158 Montgomery Street.

Basic Instinct filming location: Tosca, 242 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

Basic Instinct filming location: Michael Douglas needs a stiff drink: Tosca, 242 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

After grilling writer Catherine Tramell in the film’s most notorious scene, teetotal Curran decides to desert the Evian at Tosca, 242 Columbus Avenue, a pricey media persons’ hangout (this is obviously a well paid police force).

The Police HQ where Stone does for knickers what Clark Gable did for vests, filmed at Warner Bros’ studio in Burbank, as did Johnny Boz’s churchified rock club – a set based on New York’s Limelight Club.

Basic Instinct filming location: Rawhide II, 280 Seventh Street, San Francisco

Basic Instinct filming location: the interior of the ‘Stetson Bar’: Rawhide II, 280 Seventh Street, San Francisco

The ‘Stetson Bar’, though, is real. It’s Raw Hide II, 280 Seventh Street, south of Market, a lesbian C&W bar in San Francisco. The exterior, and the diner next door, were false fronts constructed in a deserted alley beneath the Transbay Terminal Deck, Mission Street at First Street.

Tramell’s luxurious town house is 2930 Vallejo Street at Baker Street, east of the Presidio in upscale Pacific Heights.

The ‘Salinas Medical Center’ is Rohnert Park Healthcare Center, 1450 Medical Center Drive; and at there was filming at the Dominican College in Marin County. Det Curran tails Tramell to Petaluma (the northern California town where George Lucas filmed American Graffiti). Tramell is visiting murderer Hazel Dobkins (Dorothy Malone), at 26 Liberty Street, opposite St Vincent Church.

Back in San Francisco, the car chase filmed up Kearney Street’s steep sidewalk steps on Telegraph Hill.

Out of town, Tramell’s swish ‘Stinson’ pad actually filmed south of San Francisco at a beachfront estate on a rocky bluff, on Spindrift Road, Carmel Highlands (which is why it seems to be reached via the Bixby Bridge on Highway 1, California’s Big Sur coastline). The plush home, on the same road as Clint Eastwood’s place in Play Misty For Me, is not visible from the street, but you can visit Garrapatta State Beach, Route 1 about eight miles to the south, where the beach scenes filmed.

The climax, with Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) taking the bullet, filmed at 2201 Broadway, Oakland, just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco.

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