It should come as no surprise that the state of Oregon is the setting of a plethora of films. After all, it is just north of California, the center of the universe when it comes to the art of moving pictures. Every so often Hollywood extends it arms to the north and takes advantage of the pristine forest land, beaches and mountains to help it tell a magnificent story. Television shows such as Portlandia, Grimm, and Axe Men are all primarily filmed in Oregon. As for the movies, directors have been filming in Oregon since the 1920’s. Listing all of the movies here would take ages… but these are the most well-known of the bunch.
The River Wild
Featuring the great Meryl Streep, the entire movie was filmed along several rivers in the west, mostly in Montana. However, a few scenes were shot on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
Jack Nicholson rocks it as a lazy guy who tries to pass as a mental patient in order to live a life of leisure. Shot in the state mental hospital in Salem, Oregon, back in 1974.
Released in 1994 and starring Luke Perry, a lot of the film was shot in the rodeo capital of Oregon, Pendleton.
Kind of a cheesy animal movie, with voice overs performed by Michael J. Fox and Sally Field, but cute nonetheless. This film was shot all around Oregon, including Portland and the Columbia River Gorge.
Those of us over 35 will never forget this movie, made in the 1970’s and starring the incorrigible Jack Nicholson. The exterior shots of the lodge where filmed at the world famous Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.
Stand By Me
Starring a young Corey Feldman, the fictional town of Castle Rock in the movie was filmed in Brownsville, Oregon, with the junkyard scene filmed in Veneta.
This is an avant garde movie starring Johnny Depp, released in 1995. Parts of the film were shot at the Applegate and Rogue Rivers; along the coast and in Grants Pass. Mr. Depp is pretty good in this flick.
A troubled woman’s journey to find herself along the Pacific Coast Trail, starring Reese Witherspoon. Of course, part of the PCT runs all the way through Oregon, where part of the movie was shot.
The famous 80’s movie starring a young Josh Brolin, the majority of which was filmed in Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach.
Filmed in 1990 at Astor Elementary School in Astoria. Starring the lovely Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Another one filmed mostly in Astoria, with a few scenes shot in points along the Columbia River Gorge.
Mala Noche and Drugstore Cowboy
I put these two together since they were filmed practically back to back in the late 80’s in Portland by the late great Gus Van Sant. Portland’s most famous movie director.
A 1991 film staring Keanu Reeves The Australian beach scenes were actually filmed along the Oregon coast at Ecola State Park.
My Own Private Idaho
Another 1991 film starring Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix. Filmed in Portland and also directed by Gus Van Sant.
Much of this 1993 film was shot around Portland and the northern Oregon coast. Sadly, the killer whale who played Willy died of pneumonia in the waters of Norway a few years later, 18 months after being released into the wild.
Pay It Forward
Filmed in 1999-2000, and starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and a young Haley Joel Osment. I’m cheating a little bit here, since only one scene, the bridge scene, was filmed in Portland. The rest was filmed in Las Vegas and L.A. But it’s a great movie, with great actors. Have a tissue handy while watching this one!
What the Bleep Do We Know?
This is more of a documentary, but it’s got a wonderful message, and will leave you contemplating your own existence in the world. The outside shots were filmed entirely in Portland.
Into the Wild
This 2007 film had shooting locations all over the U.S. but many of them were in several locations in Oregon: Astoria, Beaverton, and Mt. Hood. This is a good film…a tale about a young man giving up security for adventure. Right up my alley!
Well, I couldn’t leave this one out, could I? The film version Stephanie Meyers’ well-written saga of vampire books is actually set in the tiny town of Forks, Washington, but many scenes were actually filmed in St. Helens (Bella and Charlie’s house), Portland and Damascus.
That’s All Folks!