Tahoe in the movies: In Oscar fashion, learn about films featured here | SierraSun.com

Tahoe in the movies: In Oscar fashion, learn about films featured here

Autumn Whitney
awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com
The Godfather Part II — produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola — had many scenes shot on Lake Tahoe's West Shore.
Courtesy Paramount Pictures |

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For more than 100 years, the Tahoe-Truckee region has been a feature film setting. There have been more than 120 films shot here, starting not long after the turn of the 20th century, when cinema as an artistic medium was introduced to the world.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The 89th Academy Awards are upon us at long last — on Sunday, Feb. 25, the hottest celebrities in showbiz will flood into Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre for the biggest night in Hollywood. From sci-fi to dramas about broken families, this year’s Best Picture nominees are as diverse as they come.

In honor of the movie industry’s greatest awards ceremony, we’ve brought a slice of the silver screen to our publication. Lake Tahoe doesn’t have all the glitz and glam of Hollywood entertainment, but some of the industry’s most well known faces have made the trip to our region for filming.

Chances are you’ll recognize a few of the films shot here in the Tahoe-Truckee region.

Movies made prior to 2000

Charlie Chaplin starred in a 1925 film entitled “The Gold Rush,” in which he portrayed a prospector who travels to Alaska in search of gold. Truckee’s own Donner Summit was the site of production for a few weeks, and is seen in the movie as the Chilkoot Pass.

In 1935’s “The Call of the Wild,” which starred Clark Gable, includes views of Lake Tahoe’s Nevada side, which is also seen in the 1936 movie “Rose-Marie.” The latter film, about an opera singer who searches for her fugitive brother in the Canadian wilderness, was shot in a variety of places around the Tahoe Basin: South Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove, Emerald Bay State Park and Cascade Lake, to name a few.

One of the most iconic movies known to film in Lake Tahoe is 1974’s “The Godfather: Part II.” In the second installment of the Corleone saga, the family’s compound, in addition to the wedding and horse head scenes, was filmed at the Kaiser Estate.

Comedy legend Robin Williams visited South Lake Tahoe for the production of the 1983 movie “Survivors,” about two men who become heroes after preventing a hold-up at a bar, while Stephen King’s 1990 film “Misery” was shot across the lake in Truckee (Donner Summit portrays the Colorado Rockies).

In 1992’s “The Bodyguard,” Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston’s characters go on a retreat — the scene was filmed at Fallen Leaf Lake, which is also seen in the 1998 movie “City of Angels” with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan (remember when she rode the bike through Tahoe?).

Movies made after the turn of the century

“The Deep End,” which debuted in 2001 and starred Tilda Swinton, was shot in a variety of places in the Tahoe Basin — in addition to Tahoma and Reno, Crystal Bay is seen as the casino where Margaret abandons Darby’s car.

Hallmark Entertainment movies “Straight from the Heart” and “A Place Called Home,” released in 2003 and 2004, respectively, were shot across El Dorado County. The former, a classic love story, filmed in South Lake Tahoe, Placerville and Sacramento. The latter features a young Shailene Woodley (star of “Divergent”) and the Tallac Historic Site.

The 2006 hit “Smokin’ Aces” shot primarily in Stateline at Caesars Tahoe (now MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa), which in the film went by the name “Nomad Hotel.”

Reno held a lengthy feature in 2011’s “The Muppets,” but Truckee’s Donner Summit was also featured in on-location driving scenes.

Most recently, the 2014 movie “Last Weekend,” about a dysfunctional family who vacations in a lake house, shot on location around Lake Tahoe, largely in Tahoma and Tahoe City.

Next time you watch these movies, keep an eye out for Tahoe’s iconic scenery!

Autumn Whitney is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and editor of Lake Tahoe Action, both sister publications of the Sierra Sun. Information featured in this article was obtained through IMDb.