The Oscars are just around the corner! Monterey County has provided Academy Award-winning backdrops for film directors and cinematographers from the silent-movie era through today. So, we thought it would be fun to celebrate some Oscar-worthy settings from among the nearly 200 movies that have been filmed here.
Best Actress: Carmel-by-the-Sea & Carmel Valley
Joan Fontaine won the Best Actress Award for her role in Suspicion (1941). Scenes for the movie were shot along the dramatic coastline between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Big Sur, standing in for the English coast. Carmel’s quaint architecture and shop-lined Ocean Avenue have also appeared in some Hollywood favorites, including Julie (1975), Five Finger Exercise (1962), The Lady Says No (1951), Seems Like Old Times (1980), Thumb Tripping (1972) and Play Misty for Me (1971).
And speaking of Play Misty for Me, the film’s star, five-time Oscar winner (and former Carmel-by-the-Sea mayor) Clint Eastwood owns Carmel’s Mission Ranch. The former 1800s dairy ranch was restored by Eastwood and now houses a hotel and restaurant. You can also tour historic Robinson Jeffers Tor House, the distinctive stone cottage served as Eastwood’s home in The Eiger Sanction (1975) thriller.
Best Actor & Best Picture: Monterey Bay
Take in stunning views of Monterey Bay and imagine the dramatic sailing scenes that led to Spencer Tracy’s Best Actor Award in Captains Courageous (1937), and a Best Picture Award for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). And while you’re there, visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, where dramatic Humpback whale scenes from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) were filmed.
Best Supporting Actress: Salinas Valley
Charming Salinas maintains its small-town vibe with quaint Victorian houses, unique boutiques and art galleries. Author John Steinbeck grew up here, with the town and valley playing a significant role in his work and subsequent movies. Jo Van Fleet won an Oscar for her performance in East of Eden (1955). Relive moments from the film as you roam the town, including the Spreckels neighborhood. Grab lunch at Steinbeck House, Steinbeck’s boyhood home, before exploring the agricultural gems and vineyards of beautiful Salinas Valley.
Best Supporting Actress: Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach’s windswept cypress trees, fragrant pines and elegant Lodge have been backdrops for memorable scenes in more than 40 films, including Joan Crawford’s breakthrough role in Our Dancing Daughters (1928). Actress Anne Revere won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Elizabeth Taylor’s mother in National Velvet (1944).
Book a round of golf at gorgeous Pebble Beach Golf Links. And when you hit the 9th and 10th fairways, imagine the moving scenes of Taylor and her horse that played out here, as they worked towards their dream of conquering England’s famous horse race.
Best Picture & Cinematography: Point Lobos
Point Lobos’ scenic splendors has been showcased in nearly 40 films, including Evangeline (1929), for which an entire village was built on site, then intentionally burned down. Point Lobos also served as a striking setting for the dark, romantic film Rebecca (1940), which won Oscars for both Best Picture and Cinematography.
From enchanting Salinas to the rolling hills and vineyards of Carmel Valley to the wild coastlines of Point Lobos and Big Sur, the magnificent landscapes and delightful towns of Monterey County have helped make filmmaker magic for nearly 100 years. And film buffs can delve even deeper into the area’s Hollywood history with info from www.FilmMonterey.org and Monterey Movie Tours, a fun scenic tour that takes you through the many historic sites in Monterey County that have appeared in countless films over the years.