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Cinematic SF Neon: Dark Passage to Vertigo

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Neon is the lens for this illustrated talk that glows with film clips of cinematic San Francisco.

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Hosted by Jim Van Buskirk with co-hosts Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon,  "Cinematic SF Neon" explores how  San Francisco’s significant cinematic history intersects neon’s luminous past featuring excerpts from such famous films as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (pictured) as well as more obscure clips including Lucille Ball & Henry Fonda’s first date in Yours, Mine and Ours). 

Jim Van Buskirk, co-author of Celluloid San Francisco: The Film Lover's Guide to Bay Area Movie Locations (and former SFPL librarian), uses film stills and clips to demonstrate the Bay Area's rich cinematic history. Among the many familiar (or not-so-familiar scenes) are The Conversation, Pal Joey, and Thieves’ Highway. Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan are the authors of several neon titles: Saving Neon, SF Neon Icons, and San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons. One of their favorite neon-filled movie scenes is from Vertigo, in which the Hotel Empire neon sign floods a hotel room scene with an unforgettable eerie green glow.

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This event is part of Seasons of Neon, an ongoing series of illuminating talks and tours presented by the Tenderloin Museum and SF Neon that celebrate the recent publication of Neon: A Light History (Giant Orange Press, 2021) and explore San Francisco history through the city’s rich legacy of iconic glowing signs.

Existing at the intersection of material culture and built environment, neon signs are emblematic of the many small businesses that comprise a vital thread in the dynamic tapestry of the urban ecosystem. The Tenderloin and Mid-Market sport the densest concentration of extant neon in the Bay Area, which makes the Tenderloin Museum an ideal forum to consider neon and its powerful, often overlooked ability to chronicle a city and its people.

Can't make it that night? Be sure to tune in to SF Neon's YouTube channel to view the recorded Zoom webinar. Videos will be available for viewing for up to one week.

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