What the Bleep Do We Know made Portland famous with its scenes in the Bagdad theater. And, so did Twilight with Madison High School. And how many people show up at 3333 NW Quimby Street to see if the Cullens are home?

It’s always fun to see how the filmmakers adjust the setting to suit their needs. For example, in The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character goes through a tunnel to go across the Golden Gate Bridge towards San Francisco. But, the tunnel he went through was the one you go through coming back from San Francisco towards Marin.

Recent Films

The Portland metro area is a favorite filming location for more films than you’d expect. In theaters right now is Pig with Nicholas Cage. There is one lunch scene at the fake restaurant called Eurydice that was a portion of the restaurant Saucebox.

In 2020, Metal Lords was also filmed. They had open casting calls to pull in local talent. And they filmed all around Portland. 

And finally, check out She’s In Portland. I think the name speaks for itself.

Gus Van Sant

The director Gus Van Sant loves filming around Portland. His first two famous films were shot there – My Own Private Idaho and Drugstore Cowboy. (Sadly, Good Will Hunting wasn’t filmed in Portland but we hear it’s a good film anyway).

My Own Private Idaho was filmed in various locations around Portland, and you may recognize the Grosvenor Hotel.

Drugstore Cowboy was filmed around the northwest parts of Oregon. Have you ever been to the Nob Hill Pharmacy on NW Glisan Street? And can you imagine living at the Irving Apartments on NW Irving Street? I wonder how many film buffs visit there?

He filmed Even Cowgirls Get the Blues in Portland, Bend, Sisters, Terrebonne, and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Sadly it didn’t get great reviews, so it’s up to you if you want to watch it on mute and fast forward for the scenery.

But That’s Not Colorado….

Where was The Shinning filmedBelieve it or not, but the Timberline Lodge was used in the filming of The Shining. It’s located on the south side of Mount Hood about 60 miles from Portland.

The lodge is still open if you’re brave enough to visit. It has been family-owned and operated since 1955. And, it is actually a great destination for all sorts of outdoor activities, for dining, and it is one of Oregon’s most popular wedding ceremony locations. 

Another classic horror flick filmed in Portland was The Ring. It was released in 2002 and scared the heck out of many people. It had some scenes filmed at the Columbia River Gorge at the Bridal Veil Falls and the Shepperd’s Dell State Natural Area.

Free Willy

While a lot of the film was shot in Astoria, you’d be surprised how much was filmed in Portland. When Jesse and his fellow orphans are panhandling, it’s in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Hawthorne Bridge and Morrison Bridge also have their special scenes as does the Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

There was an iHop on SW Broadway that was renamed Loco’s in the film. You could take your car to Splash-n-Dash Car Wash on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. It’s still open.

 And in a blink-and-you-miss-it, you can see the Oregon Convention Center in the background of a few scenes.

Do You Love Jack Nicholson?

One of his first big movies was Five Easy Pieces released in 1970. And Oregon is a big part of the movie. If you head down to Eugene, there’s a Denny’s that’s still open where the iconic scene was shot where Jack tells the waitress his order for a chicken salad sandwich, hold everything but the toast. 

Since it’s a road trip movie, you’ll see a lot of the Portland metro area as they drive through on their way to Seattle

Jack came back in 1975 to film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem. 

What Was The First Movie Shot In Portland?

This isn’t easy to answer as we don’t know what was lost over the years. We do know that Fast Mail, Northern Pacific Railroad was filmed in the Portland area and released in 1897. A Nugget in the Rough followed in 1917. There were numerous other shorts that followed. The most well-known were The Golden Trail in 1920 and Under the Roughe in 1925.

The first full-length well-known talkie film may have been Call of the Wild in 1935 with Clark Gable and Loretta Young. Some people believe there were some filming locations in Oregon, and others say it was only California and Washington.

There weren’t many other films produced there until the 1970s. Well, to be fair, there was about one film every 3-5 years from 1935 until 1970.

There are also television series that have been filmed around our hometown, but we’ll save that for another post. We’re sure you love Portlandia. Leverage and The Flash as well as Grimm were filmed in Portland. There has been some reality television series filmed in the area as well, but we enjoy the fun of fiction.

And look for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio coming up next year starring Cate Blanchett and Ewan McGregor. Don’t you love finding places you recognize that are up on the big screen? If there are any movies we missed, let us know in the comment section. 

If you are interested to learn more fun facts about Portland, CLICK HERE.