Marilyn Monroe in front of the Hotel Del Coronado — Photo courtesy of Hotel Del Coronado
Though just a few hours away from Hollywood, San Diego provides film makers with a natural backdrop of beaches, military bases, historic homes, parks, and great weather. Pay attention next time you watch the 10 movies below as they all contain scenes filmed in San Diego. Better yet, visit the movie landmarks in person.
Citizen Kane (1941): In a fictional newsreel at the beginning of the movie, Balboa Park doubles as Kane's mansion in Florida. Also, included are shots of the El Cid statue, zoo aviary, the Museum of Art and the Prado. The film was directed by Orson Wells, who plays the starring role of a character based on William Randolph Hearst.
Some Like It Hot (1958): A substantial part of the movie was filmed at the historic Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Municipal Beach. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are the main stars in this comedy featuring romantic high jinks throughout the resort.
Freaky Friday (1976): A Disney classic where a mother and daughter, played by Jodi Foster, switch personalities. The end of the movie features a water skiing competition at Mission Bay where the two personalities finally revert back to normal.
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978): A spoof of B-grade movies, this low-budget cult favorite was filmed entirely in San Diego including a scene shot in the waterfront Star of India restaurant.
Top Gun (1986): When people discuss movies made in San Diego, this favorite about fighter pilots (played by Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards) training at Miramar Naval Air Station is often the first mentioned. The intersection of Union Street and W Laurel Street was the site of the famous motorcycle scene and you can sing like Goose at the Lafayette Hotel's Red Fox Room. The character played by Kelly McGillis lived in an Oceanside beach cottage on the corner of South Pacific and Seagaze Drive.
Hunt for Red October (1990): You can't really see San Diego in the film but the Navy submarines in the movie were docked here. Local submariners were cast as extras after it was determined that it was easier to hire real submariners rather than teach actors what to do.
Almost Famous (2000): This award-winning film tells the story of a teenage journalist reporting on a fictitious rock band called Stillwater, based on the real-life Allman Brothers. Re-creating a 1970s beach town was easy in San Diego's Ocean Beach neighborhood. Locals worked as extras, using their own casual dress and vehicles, and the opening scene features the famed Newport Avenue. Characters are seen walking through Cortez Hill and other parts of San Diego, too. The main character, William Miller, meets rocker Stillwater for the first time at the San Diego Sports Arena.
My Blue Heaven (2000): Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, and Joan Cusack star in this comedy about a gangster re-located to a fictional San Diego suburb under the witness protection program. Scenes were shot at the Hotel Del Coronado, City Hall and more.
Traffic (2000): An award-winning movie based on cross-border drug trafficking, this film featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas and Benicio Del Toro, has scenes from all over San Diego including Balboa Park, La Jolla, and even a real-life car explosion in downtown San Diego made possible by coordinating with business owners, public safety agencies, the San Diego Trolley and more.
Bruce Almighty (2003): When you shoot a movie on the east coast and then decide an extra scene is necessary after everyone has gone home to the west coast and beyond, even San Diego can double as Buffalo, NY. Jim Carrey plays a man who has been given almighty powers to rule the world. The extra night scene was shot on Harbor Island and the film crew had to work closely with local businesses to ensure that holiday lights were turned off during shooting.
Anchorman (2004): A comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate, Anchorman was set in 1970s San Diego but very little was actually filmed here. Aerial shots of modern-day downtown San Diego are seen in the movie and a consultant was a local anchorman, Jack White of Channel 10 news.
You never know what ultra-popular movie will bring this beautiful city to the big screen next!