Movie Locations in Sonoma County

Sonoma Valley Wine tours in CaliforniaThe movie business has had a love affair with Sonoma County for 70 years.  Movie stars liked to film in laid-back Sonoma County—an easy distance from Los Angeles but a world away.   Movie stars also appreciated the friendliness of the area, the fact that they were treated as regular folks, the hot springs, and great wine.  Sonoma has served as a location for many major films, including:

  • The Happy Land (1943) Shot in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. Natalie Wood‘s first movie, at age four.  Natalie Wood was a Sonoma native.
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Alfred Hitchcock‘s personal favorite, filmed at Santa Rosa Railroad Depot, NWP Engine #140, Old Courthouse Square, Public Library, and McDonald Avenue. The 1991 telefilm involved eight weeks’ filming on McDonald Avenue.
  • The Sullivans (1944) Shot on Morgan Street.
  • All My Sons (1948) Shot on McDonald Avenue.
  • The Wonderful World of Disney The “Inky the Crow” episodes (beginning in the late 1960s) filmed in the Fountain Grove area.
  • Storm Center (1956) Bette Davis spent six weeks on location at the Santa Rosa Main Library, which keeps a collection of clippings. It also includes scenes from downtown and a house on Walnut Ct.
  • Pollyanna (1960) Featured the Mableton Mansion (also known as the McDonald Mansion), on McDonald Avenue.
  • Little Dog Lost (1963) Filmed in Santa Rosa and Cloverdale.
  • The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock’s tour de force filmed entirely in Bodega Bay and the town of Bodega.
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) The sequence involving the plane flying full bore, at about 150 knots, through an airplane hangar in less than a second, was shot at the Sonoma County Airport (in unincorporated Sonoma County between Santa Rosa and Windsor).
  • The Candidate (1972) directed by Michael Ritchie was shot in Howarth Park and Schlumberger Gallery.
  • Slither (1972) Highway 101 south of Santa Rosa, and Cloverdale.
  • Steelyard Blues (1973) Shot in downtown Santa Rosa and at the Sonoma County Airport.
  • Smile (1975) Shot at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and many other nearby locations. Made into a 1986 Broadway musical of the same name with music by Marvin Hamlisch.
  • Little Miss Marker (1980) Shot at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
  • Shoot the Moon (1982) Used a real Carl’s Jr. on Industrial Drive at Cleveland Avenue. Also filmed at Wolf House at Jack London State Park.
  • Cujo (1983) Locations include Santa Rosa and Petaluma.
  • Smooth Talk (1985) Locations include Santa Rosa shopping malls and Sebastopol.
  • The Blue Yonder (1985, TV) “Lower” 4th Street (west of Highway 101) in Railroad Square.
  • Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) Locations include Santa Rosa High School, the Railroad Square neighborhood, and Petaluma.
  • Wildfire (1988) Wood Pontiac & Cadillac on Corby Avenue.
  • Wired (1989) Filmed in Santa Rosa.
  • Die Hard 2 (1990) Scenes shot at Santa Rosa Air Center.
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1991, TV) McDonald Avenue and the Train Depot.
  • Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! (1992) Shot over a four-week period at Santa Rosa Air Center.
  • Phenomenon (1996) Used Santa Rosa Junior College as an establishing shot for UC Berkeley. Also used “The Wagon Wheel” bar off of Highway 101 for bar scenes.
  • Scream (1996) A house on McDonald Avenue, a local grocery store and the Bradley Video Store on Piner Rd.
  • Inventing the Abbotts (1997) Shot at Santa Rosa High School and in Petaluma.
  • Mumford (1999) Shot at Santa Rosa Junior College, other Santa Rosa locations, and in Guerneville and Healdsburg.
  • Bandits (2001) Locations included the Flamingo Hotel
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) Set in Santa Rosa.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) Filmed in Railroad Square.
  • Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Set in Santa Rosa during the 1980s

Stars have rented homes and have stayed at the retro-hotel where Marilyn Monroe stayed, the Flamingo Resort.  (One star from Mumford even asked them if he could buy their bedding!)  Unbelievable with a list this long, but there are two more lists this long from shots in Sonoma County.  It is a visual artist’s dream.

Writer: Meredith Blevins, featured writer for www.authenticwinecountry.com. Join her at www.blevinswordworx.com for wine-country mysteries, classes, and the untamed west.

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