You find yourself looking around San Jose with it’s not terribly high skyline, corporate offices, and lack of landmarks, and think that it’s not exactly a highly sought-after location for filming a major motion picture. Well, this is why you and I aren’t location scouts. Turns out there are PLENTY of nooks and crannies here in our beloved San Jose that film directors deemed perfect for a few key scenes. Here’s just a smattering:
Beverly HIlls Cop 3 (1994)
California’s Great America
Eddie Murphy appears to hang from a giant ferris wheel ride in a nightmare-inducing scene from 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III, and it happened right in the heart of what’s now California’s Great America. At the time, the park was owned by Paramount, who also released the movie. The ride in real life was called The Triple Wheel (called “The Spider” in the film), but is no longer in the park. Fun fact: my family was at the park the day they were filming this scene. I never went on the ride again.
The Rookie (1990)
The freeway chase scene in this 1990 classic was filmed on what appears to be I-680 (you can see street signs for Capitol Expressway and Alum Rock Avenue in one scene) and boasts actually really lovely aerial views of the city at night.
Alfred Hitchcock loved using Bay Area locations for his films, and Marnie is yet another example. This 1964 classic, crazy-female-pathological-liar thriller begins in Diridon Station in San Jose. It’s the very first scene of the movie, but was the last to be filmed.
And speaking of Alfred Hitchcock…
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Nha Trang Restaurant
Okay, yes. It’s not EXACTLY The Birds, BUT it sure wants to be! Birdemic was made on a $10,000 budget and is thought to be one of the worst movies of all time. The director, who went to school in San Jose, filmed a few scenes (potentially with birds? I mean, who actually has seen this?) at Nha Trang Restaurant located at 1820 Tully Road. And I hear their Nem Nuong Cha Ram Ninh Hoa is delicious.
San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA
The late Robin Williams lived in San Francisco, which might explain why movies like Flubber and What Dreams May Come include so many Bay Area locations. In Flubber, you see a house in the Rose Garden district, a classroom at San Jose State U, and the Adobe building at 345 Park Avenue.
At 1:48 in this trailer you’ll see the SAP Center and Ed riding on the zamboni machine. The scene was filmed during an actual game (Sharks v. Mighty Ducks), and the 17,483 game attendees got to be extras.
Lots of other movies including Kiss Shot (featuring Whoopi Goldberg), Larger Than Life (with Bill Murray), and Mad City (starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta traipsing ALL OVER San Jose) include scenes from San Jose as well, but I’ll let you schedule your own movie night to do those SJ sightings.