The proximity of Lake Arrowhead mountain communities to Hollywood always made it a popular location for the Film Industry and vacationing for the stars. By 1909, Los Angeles had already become a mecca for the booming industry and early filmmakers found the San Bernardino mountains with its distinct four-seasons ideal for moviemaking. Location shooting was easy because of the close proximity to the studios, plus hunting and fishing lodges were already available to house the film crews. From silent movies to the “talkies” to today’s blockbusters, Lake Arrowhead has been a favorite motion picture backdrop. Many of the Hollywood stars who have made movies in the area have built and continue to own homes here.
The Cattle Rustlers
The earliest documentation on filmmaking in the area was an article in the Redlands Daily Review, January 19, 1913, indicating that the Selig Bear Valley Co. was in our mountains filming “The Cattle Rustlers”.
The Squaw Man
Around that time Cecil B. DeMille came up to Pinecrest Lodge with a group of actors to film his famous moving picture “The Squaw Man”. This film was considered one of the first to start a trend toward longer films with quality writing and first-class actors.
In 1925 a whole fishing village was constructed along the shore of Lake Arrowhead for the silent movie “Mantrap” starring Clara Bow. The film was directed by Victor Fleming and became a Hollywood hit.
The 3-time Academy Award winning movie “Sunrise” was filmed in Lake Arrowhead in 1927 starring Janet Gaynor and George O’Brien. It was one of the first feature films with a synchronized musical score and sound effects soundtrack.
The 1930’s and 1940’s are considered the Golden Age of Movies and Lake Arrowhead was now known in Hollywood as the ‘Swiss Alps of Southern California”, so no wonder in the fall of 1937 a Laurel and Hardy movie “Swiss Miss” was set in Arrowhead. It is a comedy about two guys who go to the Swiss Alps to sell mousetraps.
Again, in 1937 all the alpine scenes in the movie “Heidi” starring Shirley Temple were filmed here at a current mountain Picnic Area called Switzer’s Park. Shirley Temple is perfect in the role of Heidi, the little eight-year-old orphan who is taken by her cruel aunt to live in the Alps with a grandfather. Later Shirley Temple bought a home in Lake Arrowhead that she enjoyed for years.
Now Voyager & The Yearling
In 1942 “Now Voyager” starred Bette Davis, and one famous scene filmed is the actress playing tennis at the current UCLA Arrowhead Lodge & Conference Center, and in 1946 “The Yearling” starring Jane Wyman and Gregory Peck was also filmed in Lake Arrowhead at Point Hamiltair where a movie set was constructed next to the lake.
Jane Wyman had a home in Lake Arrowhead for some time before and after the filming of this movie. Many stars bought a home after or while shooting a movie here. We recommend you take a narrated boat tour around Lake Arrowhead on the Arrowhead Queen to see former stars homes.
You’re Never Too Young
The comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis also made a movie in Lake Arrowhead when in 1955 they filmed “You’re Never Too Young”. The movie is filled with lots of crazy shots of Jerry Lewis waterskiing around the lake.
The classic love story “Magnificent Obsession” with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman was filmed in 1957. There are lots of scenes of the lake as well as our local Mountains Community Hospital. The first 1935 version of Magnificent Obsession was also filmed here.
Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number and I’ll Take Sweden
In the 1960’s Bob Hope filmed two movies here, “Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number” starring Phyllis Diller and “I’ll Take Sweden” with Frankie Avalon, who later bought a home in Lake Arrowhead.
More movies filmed over the years include “American President” in 1995, a romantic comedy-drama film starring Michael Douglas and Annette Benning and directed and produced by Rob Reiner. Camp David in the film is really UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge and Conference Center situated next to Lake Arrowhead. Both interior and exterior scenes were filmed on the property.
Space Jam and Parent Trap
In 1996 “Space Jam” was filmed here starring Michael Jordan and Bill Murray where Lake Arrowhead Country Club is part of the movie set. Then in 1998 “Parent Trap” starring Lindsey Lohen, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson was filmed at Camp Seely near Lake Arrowhead that was used as the summer camp set.
“Next” is a 2007 American science fiction action thriller film directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel. A scene was filmed at the historic Cliffhanger Restaurant on Hwy-18 overlooking the valley below. Today the restaurant is called Hortencia’s Cliffhanger Mexican Restaurant.
For decades, many films have been made in the area, and most recently the movie “Laundromat” starring award-winning actress Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman was filmed at the docks in Lake Arrowhead Village. In the film Streep plays Ellen Martin, a woman left widowed when her husband dies in a tour boat accident.
Learn more at our Mountain History Museum
Visit our local Mountain History Museum and spend some time in the Cozad Theater, where you will marvel at the scores of movie titles featured in a presentation. Our historian Russ Kelleroften holds popular lectures with behind-the-scenes highlights of films with a mountain connection. CLICK HERE to discover books on movies made locally, as well as other history books.
A List of Some Movies Made in the Lake Arrowhead Mountain Communities
The Squaw Man 1913
Call of the North 1914
Heart of Nora Flyn 1916
Devil’s Double 1916
Don’t Tell Everything 1921
Three Smart Girls 1936
Swiss Miss 1937
Of Human Hearts 1938
Now, Voyager 1942
The Yearling 1946
Just For You 1952
Magnificent Obsession 1954
You’re Never Too Young 1955
Mister Cory 1957
Summer Love 1958
Hound Dog Man 1959
North To Alaska 1960
Kissin’ Cousins 1963
The Candy Web 1963
I’ll Take Sweden 1965
The Devil’s Eight 1965
Family Pilot 1969
The Hand 1976
Walk Like a Man 1986
To Die For 1987
To Die For II 1989
Seed People 1991
The American President 1995
Space Jam 1996
Parent Trap 1997
Somebody Help Me 2005