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Bartell's Backroads Goes to the Movies: The Complete Special

John Bartell hosts a special celebration of some of Hollywood's most memorable movies and the towns across California where they were filmed.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is the home of Hollywood, the movie-making capital of the world. 

It's also the home of countless movie locations. From its deserts to its oceans and mountains, the wide variety of landscapes in California can stand in for just about any place you can imagine.

Bartell's Backroads has created a half-hour special featuring some of the state’s most iconic and recognizable film locations. Watch the entire show at the top of the page, or click on the links below to learn more from the comfort of your couch.

  • The Hollywood Sign – It’s one of the most iconic billboards in the world but originally it was only supposed to last two years. Here’s the odd backstory of how it has changed over the past 99 years.
  • Jamestown – They call her the “Movie Queen” because when Hollywood needs a locomotive, they cast the Sierra #3. See it in person and take a ride at 1897 Railtown State Historic Park.
  • Redwood National Park – The giant trees of Northern California have been the backdrop of multiple movies including "Star Wars Return of the Jedi," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."
  • Slab City – It’s known as “The Last Free Place.” The folk art community of Slab City welcomes all, including the cast of the 2004 film "Into The Wild." Visit the paint-covered Salvation Mountain and feel the love of an unusual artist.
  • Modesto: American Graffiti – The nostalgic sounds of the 1960s and the rumble of cars cruising come alive on the streets of Modesto in George Lucas’s film "American Graffiti."
  • Ferndale – The coastal town of Ferndale is on the National Register of Historic Places, and because its Victorian-style homes are so well preserved, film makers love to make movies here, like the 1995 film "Outbreak" starring Dustin Hoffman, and the 2001 movie "The Majestic" starring Jim Carrey.
  • Hotel Del Coronado – When Hollywood needs a hotel, they head to San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado. It was Marylin Monroe’s favorite place to stay in the 1959 movie "Some Like It Hot."
  • Bodega Bay - Alfred Hitchcock chose the coastal town of Bodega Bay to film his movie "The Birds" because it was small, intimate. Even after the movie premiered, tourists continued flocking to the community.
  • San Francisco– From the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island, San Francisco has hosted a number of flicks:
    • In Hitchcock's 1958 film "Vertigo," Kim Novak jumps into the water at Fort Point.
    • Clint Eastwood chased bad guys and shot up the city in the 1971 film "Dirty Harry."
    • On Steiner Street, you may recognize the Victorian buildings in the 1993 Robin Williams film "Mrs. Doubtfire."
    • And don't forget when Nicolas Cage escaped Alcatraz in the 1996 action blockbuster "The Rock."
  • Mendocino – This coastal town is known for its water towers it was also the backdrop for the TV series "Murder She Wrote" and one of the film locations for the movie "Dying Young," starring Julia Roberts.
  • Solvang - "Sideways" was filmed almost entirely on location in Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley. The 2004 film follows two middle-aged men and the women they meet on a wine tasting adventure/mishaps. The town of Solvang actually provides a road map of all the film locations for tourists to follow.
  • Angels Flight – It’s been featured in films like the romantic musical "La La Land" and it was the center of an investigation in the hit Amazon show "Bosch." Angels Flight is an LA icon, and you can ride it seven days a week.
  • Pioneertown - Chances are if you've seen a western, at least a portion of it was filmed in California and you may recognize this movie set which today is actually a real town.
  • Alabama Hills Museum of Western Film History - The unique rocks in the Alabama Hills were formed by wind and water erosion, but to Hollywood it's just a versatile backdrop mimicking places all over the world. In 1939, the Eastern Sierra was made to look like India in the movie "Gunga Din." And as recently as 2008, "Iron Man" blew up a portion of the Owens Valley. See all the movie magic at the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine.
  • Sacramento - Buster Keaton headed west to Sacramento in the 1928 silent film "Steamboat Bill, Jr." The set for this film had one of the most expensive budgets at the time, and death-defying stunts in this movie were all done by Keaton himself. And let's not forget "Lady Bird" a postcard picture of Sacramento. The 2017 coming of age film was directed by Sactown native Greta Gerwig.
  • Tuolumne River – Harrison Ford rode the raging waters of the Tuolumne River in the 1984 movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
  • Fox Plaza - Bruce Willis fought for his life inside Los Angeles’ Fox Plaza in the movie "Die Hard."
  • Lake Tahoe - Portions of "The Godfather: Part II" were filmed in here.
  • Burney - The boys in the movie "Stand by Me" narrowly escape being run over by a train crossing the now iconic “Stand by Me Bridge” in Shasta County, near the town of Burney in NorCal.
  • Foresthill Bridge - In "xXx," Vin Diesel jumps a Corvette off the side of the Foresthill Bridge into the canyon at Auburn State Recreation Area.


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