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10 Famous Movies Filmed in Oregon Part 2


It shouldn’t be too surprising that Oregon with its amazing scenery and diverse natural landscape has been used to make movies for the big screen. Still, with such a relatively small population it is somewhat amazing how many movies have been filmed here over the years.

After naming 10 movies in part one, it became apparent there needed to be a part two, as these are just as famous, so here goes from oldest to newest.

1. Paint Your Wagon (1969): Having Clint Eastwood star in a musical isn’t likely, but he did star in this American Western musical in the late 60s and even did his own singing. The film also stars Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg and was directed by Joshua Logan. Most of the movie production happened near Baker City, Oregon, a small city in Eastern Oregon with around 10k residents and at 3451 ft. elevation. The plot centers around a mining camp in the California Golf Rush era in the mid-1800s.

2. Five Easy Pieces (1970): Starring Jack Nicholson, this early 70s drama was filmed mostly in the Pacific Northwest, including the coastal town of Florence and the big city of Portland, Oregon. There was also a scene filmed at a Denny’s along Interstate 5 near Eugene. Although not as famous as some other movies on the list, this movie received prestigious accolades such as being added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress and being nominated for four Academy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. The plot depicts an oil rig worker who used to be a piano prodigy in his privileged childhood traveling back home to visit his father on his deathbed. Also starring in the movie are Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Ralph Waite, and Lois Smith; Bob Rafelson directed the film.

3. Sometimes a Great Notion (1971): This is another great movie that came from a Ken Kesey book of the same name written in 1964. His first book was made into “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which was highlighted in famous movies from Oregon part one. Paul Newman directed and starred in this poignant drama that was filmed in western Oregon in Lincoln County along the coast. The cities of Newport and Kernville were used in the filming, including scenes from Mo’s Shanty Fish House in Newport. Also starring in the film were Henry Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, and Lee Remick. The plot revolves around a prodigal son story and the modern changes that threatened the logging community, which the family is part of. Secondary plots of marriage difficulties, suicide, depression, and drinking all make this an especially entertaining movie that is fully Oregon and American at its core.

4. Just Before Dawn (1981): Filmed on location at Silver Falls State Park in Sublimity, Oregon, this slasher horror film will make viewers wary of visiting this beautiful area. The relatively low-budget film stars Chris Lemmon, Greg Henry, Jamie Rose, George Kennedy and Deborah Benson, and is directed by Jeff Lieberman. The plot includes many disturbing details, including twin brothers born out of incest who murder a bunch of college-age teens around an old, abandoned church in the forest. The film met with mixed reviews and was distributed by an independent company named Picturemedia after Universal Pictures decided against acquiring it.

5. Short Circuit (1986): This is a movie I remember watching as a boy, starring Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton and G.W. Bailey, and directed by John Badham. This is a unique science fiction comedy that depicts a robot made by the military for Cold War operations being struck by lightning and serendipitously becoming sentient and escaping to Astoria, Oregon. An animal caregiver finds the robot and the plot thickens as the military wants him back. “The Goonies” was also filmed in Astoria, Oregon, which was highlighted in part one.

6. Kindergarten Cop (1990): It seems like yesterday when this movie came out, but it’s been around 33 years now since Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in this action-comedy film! Interestingly, it is another movie filmed in Astoria, Oregon, specifically at the John Jacob Aster Elementary School, as well as the Bayview Motel, downtown Astoria, and the Seafare Restaurant. The movie was also filmed at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach and the highway near Seaside. Pamela Reed, Penelope Ann Miller, and Richard Tyson also star in the movie. The plot includes Arnold as a tough undercover detective becoming a kindergarten teacher to catch an infamous dangerous drug dealer, not realizing the challenge the children would cause him in his serious duties.

7. Point Break (1991): Rolling along in the early 90s, we have the famous action-crime movie starring Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey and Lori Petty. Parts of the movie were filmed at the Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach, Oregon, including the final scene. That is the second movie in a row filmed partly at this state park, interesting. The movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The plot involves an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a group of bank robbers who are also surfers. There was a remake of the film in 2015.

8. Fire in the Sky (1993): Maybe the most interesting movie on the list, based on a true story of an alien abduction detailed in Travis Walton’s book called The Walton Experience. Starring in the film are D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick and James Garner. Robert Lieberman directed the film and although not related to the director of “Just Before Dawn” with the same last name, they were both born in 1947 in New York State interestingly. The actual experience and movie are set in a town called Snowflake, Arizona and the White Mountains. Parts of the movie were filmed in the towns of Oakland, Roseburg, Sutherlin, and Idleyld Park, Oregon. The actual abduction account was spiced up for the movie, as the scriptwriter found Walton’s original account boring.

9. Untraceable (2008): This more recent movie was filmed in Portland, Oregon. The movie plot was also set in Portland where star actress Diane Lane lives as a widowed single parent living in the suburbs who is an FBI special agent. Diane’s character is working with the cybercrime division to catch a sadistic serial killer who live-streams his murders online after the same victims visit his website. The Broadway Bridge and the roller-skating rink of Oaks Amusement Park are featured in the film as well. The plot thickens as the FBI can’t trace or shut down the website.

10. Twilight (2008): Oregon has also been part of producing romantic fantasy films about vampires. This movie is based on the 2005 novel by Stephenie Meyer and is the first installment of “The Twilight Saga” film series, which includes five movies. The movie stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and is directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The movie was mostly filmed in Portland, Oregon, including at the Cullen House, Kalama High School and Madison High School. Some scenes were filmed at St. Helens, Oregon as well. This may be the most monetarily successful movie on the list, making a total of over $400 million internationally.

While this list doesn’t cover all the movies made in Oregon, in addition to part one, it does cover most of the most famous ones. From musical westerns to fantasy thrillers about vampires, Oregon has helped create many interesting tales, some of them even based on true events. We can only wonder what the movie world has in store for this great state next.


Originally published at NewsBreak


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