Fans who wax nostalgic over the 1990s classic “Free Willy” consider it a badge of honor to know the precise spot where Willy jumps over the seawall to freedom in the final scene. Now, thanks to a partnership between Oregon Film, its nonprofit OregonMade Creative Foundation, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Astoria Warrenton Chamber of Commerce and other local entities, you can visit that spot and more than half a dozen others showing the locations of local film classics. Here’s how to see these Coast-based movie sites along the Oregon Film Trail.
A great place to start is at the Oregon Film Museum, where a sign for “The Goonies” marks the spot of the jailbreak in the opening scene. It also notes the role of the Flavel House Museum (next door) in the film, where one of the characters works as a curator. You’ll find a wealth of film-buff info for the whole family at the jam-packed interactive museum, complete with a green screen experience, pretend jailhouse, memorabilia-filled Goonie Gallery, place to make and edit your own film, and and a spot to create your own mugshot to add to their gallery of prisoners.
Continue about 2 miles east to the East End Mooring Basin (at the east end of the Astoria Riverfront Trail), where a sign marks a viewpoint of the house where “The Goonies” was filmed. The sign also marks John Jacob Astor Elementary School, just two blocks uphill, used for the exterior shots in “Kindergarten Cop.” Fun fact: After filming “Kindergarten Cop,” the crew installed the playground equipment and hired local artists to paint murals on the school building.
Travel 2 and a half miles west to Alameda Park, under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, where a sign marks the part of “Short Circuit” where the robot, Number 5, escapes and falls from the bridge. It’s one of many times the bridge has appeared on the big screen; another was in the 1983 film “The Night the Bridge Fell Down.”
Visit the Hammond Marina, just west of Astoria, to imagine the sight of Willy the orca jumping to the open sea in “Free Willy.” The filmmakers used special animatronic whales to stand in for Keiko the whale during some of the more complicated scenes.
The lesser-known but still classic “Sometimes a Great Notion” was filmed on beaches and at a house on the Siletz River a few miles away from Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site, where the film-trail sign marks it. Based on Oregon son Ken Kesey’s novel of the same name, the 1971 flick starred Paul Newman and was filmed in the coastal towns of Kernville, Toledo and Newport as well as the Columbia Gorge.
Ecola Point at Ecola State Park is now home to two signs that commemorate four fan-favorite flicks: “Point Break,” Twilight,” “Kindergarten Cop” and “The Goonies.” Make the breathtaking 6.5-mile hike to Indian Beach to see the unforgettable end-scene location of “Point Break,” as Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves fight in a rainstorm before Swayze heads off into the surf.
After seeing the film sites, you may just be inspired to cozy up in your hotel room with a big bowl of popcorn and glass of wine, and then wake up to another morning at the ocean.
Still to come: Watch for signs denoting more coastal film spots, including one at Depoe Bay marking a secret film spot from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
By Jen Anderson
Photo courtesy of Oregon Film