Bakersfield in the Movies
Sheltering in place means you probably have watched a lot of movies. But how many of those movies have scenes shot in Bakersfield?
Visit Bakersfield has found five movies with scenes showing recognizable places in Bakersfield. Each of these movies is available for streaming so you can watch them whenever you want. How many have you seen?
“Hard Country” (1981) (PG)
Kim Basinger makes her big-screen debut in this film that also stars Jan-Michael Vincent. The film shot several scenes at the Kern County Basque Club, 2301 South Union Avenue. In the film, the building was transformed into “The Stallion” and also was featured on the movie’s poster. Other Bakersfield locations include the Bakersfield Inn, 1101 Union Avenue; Calloway Drive; and Panorama Drive. Available on Prime Video.
“Best Laid Plans” (1999) (R)
The only good thing in Alessandro Nivola’s life is his new girlfriend, Reese Witherspoon. Together they scheme to make things better but end up bringing on more trouble. Watch for the old Sea Breeze building at 23rd and “R” streets. Available on STARZ.
“Hells Angels on Wheels” (1967)
(Unrated, but when it was released the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures gave this film a “C” for “condemned.”)
Jack Nicholson in a gas station attendant who longs to be accepted into the Hell’s Angels. But he did not count on their brutality, or falling for the gang leader’s girlfriend. There are several Bakersfield scenes in the film, beginning with the gang roaring along downtown’s 19th Street as they turn west from “M” Street toward Chester Avenue. This was filmed when 19th Street was downtown’s major east-west four-lane artery, before the street turned into today’s much quieter one-way parking mall. Other Bakersfield scenes include Panorama Drive, Hart Park, Pioneer Village at the Kern County Museum and the Desert Star Motel, 516 South Union Avenue. This was considered Jack Nicholson’s last “B” movie. Available on Shout! Factory TV with Prime Video Channels, as well as YouTube.
“Five Easy Pieces” (1970) (R)
Another Jack Nicholson film, this one garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The film itself was nominated for Best Picture and Karen Black was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. In this movie, Nicholson’s character gives up a career as a concert pianist to work in the oil fields. A memorable scene is on Interstate 5 at Enos Lane with Nicholson playing the piano during a traffic jam. This is right across the freeway from today's Kern County Raceway Park. Also watch for the old Freddie's Top of the Hill bowling alley at 2674 Mt. Vernon Avenue (now the site of Taco Bell), “Moler’s Barber College” at 1322 – 19th Street (today’s Downtown Fineline Tattoo and Piercing Shop), a palmist shop at 1214 - 19th Street (now a parking lot) and Nicholson walking past 1300 -19th Street (today’s 19th Street Antique Mall). Available on Prime Video.
“Any Which Way You Can” (1980) (PG)
This is a sequel to “Every Which Way But Loose” and stars Clint Eastwood as a former prize fighter. Traveling with his brother Geoffrey Lewis and pet orangutan Clyde, they wind up in a series of mishaps. Combined with the earlier film, they were two of the highest grossing Eastwood films. “Any Which Way You Can” opened on Wednesday, December 17, 1980 and it became the number one film at the U.S. box office during its opening weekend, according to Wikipedia. Watch for the gang to visit CALM, the Californian Living Museum. Available on Prime Video.
In addition to these movies that featured Bakersfield scenes, there are countless others that have been filmed in Kern County. Check out the list from Bakersfield Life Magazine for more movies filmed nearby. And if you know of other movies with Bakersfield scenes in them, please let us know. Send them to info@VisitBakersfield.com.
Now get ready to watch your city on the big screen and see how many Bakersfield places you recognize.
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