Film making on the Monterey Peninsula over the years

For the past century, the scenery and beauty of the Monterey Peninsula have lured many filmmakers and their movie making magic.

Classics such as “Play Misty for Me” and “A Summer Place” have been filmed for Monterey’s iconic scenery, while the scenery has also stood in for other places around the globe.

“We’ve been the shores of Corsica, the coast of England and Australia and many more locales throughout the years,” says Doug Lumsden, owner and guide of Monterey Movie Tours. “We have a certain Mediterranean look.”

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur is an iconic scene of the Monterey Peninsula. Courtesy of Ellie Alto.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur is an iconic scene of the Monterey Peninsula. Courtesy of Ellie Alto.

The picturesque lonely cypress tree in-Point Lobos is an iconic spot of the Monterey Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Monterey Movie Tours.

The picturesque lonely cypress tree in-Point Lobos is an iconic spot of the Monterey Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Monterey Movie Tours.

Here are some local spots filmed many times over the years:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Besides the gorgeous outdoor scenery of the peninsula, the Monterey Bay Aquarium was shot for many scenes during the filming of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”

The adventure begins when a probe circulates Earth, disabling ships and global grid power and resulting in the generation of storms and a sun-blocking cloud. The plot leads the heroes of the planet Vulcan to travel back in time to planet Earth to find the extinct humpback whale, whose song matches the probe’s signal.

Many scenes were shot in front of the kelp forest tank and the aquarium’s staircase with a window looking out over the bay.

The Pacific Coastline

A famous stop on the Monterey Movie Tours is Bird Rock, just off the coast of the peninsula. The late-‘50s romantic drama “A Summer Place,” starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue, took place on the beach in front of this spot.

In the film, directed by Delmer Daves, the peninsula stood in for Pine Island off the coast of Maine. Nearly all scenes were shot throughout the Monterey Peninsula.

Other films have been set in the beautiful coastlines of Big Sur, including “The Sandpiper,” (no relation to the newspaper). The film stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who fall in love while on the peninsula. Taylor plays a free-spirited single mother whose son attends school nearby. She falls in love with the married headmaster of her son’s school (Burton). This is one of the few films shot and set in Big Sur.

Big Sur’s landmarks, including Pfeiffer Beach, Point Lobos State Reserve and Bixby Creek Bridge, are also included in the film.

Pacific Grove

1989’s “Turner and Hooch” was filmed in Butterfly Town, USA, also known as Pacific Grove. The motion picture stars Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog.

Hanks acts as Scott Turner, an obsessively neat police investigator, tired of working in the fictional town of Cypress Beach. Turner’s friend Amos is killed, and the investigator believes that Amos’ energetic dog, Hooch, is the only witness in his owner’s murder.

Although the pooch turns Turner’s life upside down, they slowly form strong loving relationship between a man and a dog. Pacific Grove stands in for many of the scenes of the town, with a major car chase down Ocean View Avenue. Other scenes were shot in Moss Landing.

Carmel Beach

Along with the beautiful scenery of the peninsula are breathtaking views of Carmel Beach, depicted in scenes from Clint Eastwood’s film “Play Misty for Me,” the first film he ever directed and filmed completely on the Monterey Peninsula.

Besides Eastwood’s film, the Mrs. Clinton Walker Residence on Scenic Road in Carmel was used in the film “A Summer Place.”

If you want to learn more about cinematography on the peninsula, join Lumsden with Monterey Movie Tours.

-Joyce Doherty