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Sonoma County on the Big Screen

Move over Hollywood! Can you believe that nearly 80 moves have been shot on location in Sonoma County? I’m proud to share the intrigue for this wonderful area with the major filmmakers and directors like George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Wes Craven, and many others who have brought their crews and cameras to the North Bay area, sealing Sonoma County’s claim to movie magic fame. Following are a few favorite, and very famous flicks filmed right here in my hometown:

  • In 1943’s “Shadow of a Doubt,” Alfred Hitchcock’s filmed his personal favorite movie at Santa Rosa Railroad Depot, NWP Engine #140, Old Courthouse Square, the old ivy-covered public library and McDonald Avenue. He returned in 1963 to shoot “The Birds,” filmed in Bodega and Bodega Bay. One terrifying scene was shot at the 150-year old Potter School in Bodega.
  • In 1972, Robert Redford shot “The Candidate” with a big rally scene at Santa Rosa’s Howarth Park as well as other parts of town. In the 1973 classic “American Graffiti,” young George Lucas (before his “Star Wars” days) turned Petaluma into an American small town where teenagers came to play.
  • The 1986 cult classic “Peggy Sue Got Married” was created by Francis Ford Coppola in Santa Rosa, featuring Santa Rosa High School and Petuluma’s D Street, along with other sites. Coppola came back in 1988 to film “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” a true story about a visionary car designer showcasing a home in Sonoma and the Petaluma Speedway.
  • Stunning vineyard shots are found throughout “A Walk in the Clouds,” made in 1995. The story is set in Napa Valley, but scenes were shot at Sonoma County locations, including Haywood’s Winery.
  • 1996’s “Phenomenon” with John Travolta shot many scenes at the Wagon Wheel Inn in Santa Rosa. That same year, “Scream” Director Wes Craven, creator of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” shot on McDonald Avenue and at the Bradley Video Store on Marlow Road.
  • In 2003, Steve Martin’s “Cheaper by the Dozen” was filmed at Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square area.
  • Based on the true story of California wines’ historic victory over French wines, “Bottle Shock” (2008) focused on Chateau Montelena, a historic cabernet and chardonnay producer in Calistoga, and included scenes of Sonoma County.