By Daniel Lahr,

Executive Director of Central Coast Film Society

So, it looks like we have all been spending some quality time inside for our own good lately. Lots of people are now caught up on films and television shows they’ve been wanting to see, but what do you do when you have finished your list? Why not revisit some classic films with ties to right here on the Central Coast? 

The Central Coast Film Society has put together a Top 10 list of things to watch while sheltering at home. Here’s what you might want to dust off and enjoy. 

10. Little Giants – Arroyo Grande

In the small village of Arroyo Grande came this feel good film with Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill. They play brothers living in Urbania, Ohio. Only, it’s actually Arroyo Grande. Watch as the misfit team lead by Moranis trains to go up against the big team coached by O’Neill. A perfect small-town, homegrown family comedy.

9. Spartacus – San Simeon 

At 197 minutes long, Spartacus is the type of movie to make a viewing event out of, or when you’re stuck at home all day. Which makes pausing for bathroom breaks a little easier. This classic movie, with Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier and directed by Stanley Kubrick, will have you transported back to the glory days of Rome by stopping at Hearst Castle as a backdrop.

8. The Spirit of St. Louis – Santa Maria

Billy Wilder’s production starring James Stewart was filmed all over the world, following the story of Charles Lindbergh and his monumental flight from New York to Paris. However, in this movie, they were flying out of Allan Hancock Field (now the site of Allan Hancock College) in Santa Maria. The film was released in 1957 and only a couple years later the airport closed as Highway 101 was rerouted to its current location.

7. Pete’s Dragon – Montana De Oro State Park

This classic Disney film (not to be confused with the 2016 remake of the same name) was set in Passamaquoddy, Maine, but was filmed on this coast. The lighthouse seen in the film was built at Montana De Oro State Park on Point Buchon. You can still hike to that location, but you won’t find a lighthouse anymore — it was quickly dismantled after production so it wouldn’t confuse passing ships. 

6. Of Mice and Men – Santa Ynez Valley

Directed and starring Gary Sinise, this film was filmed extensively in the Santa Ynez Valley at Gainey Ranch. This adaptation of the classic John Steinbeck novel is a heavy drama that was praised by critics but didn’t do that well in the box office. The 1939 version of the story was filmed a little further north in San Luis Obispo and the Hearst Ranch. 

In “Outbreak,” watch carefully when Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr. are in a helicopter trying to divert an Air Force plane towards the end of the movie. You can see they’re flying over the Santa Ynez Mountain Range.

5. Outbreak – Santa Ynez Valley

What is a pandemic without watching a movie like this? With its huge ensemble cast, most of the movie takes place in Northern California. But watch carefully when Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr. are in a helicopter trying to divert an Air Force plane (that flew out from Vandenberg AFB). You can see they’re flying over the Santa Ynez Mountain Range over Nojoqui Grade. (Fun fact: our president, Raiza Giorgi’s, family property is Nojoqui Falls Ranch, and her husband was watching them fly over as they were filming. 

4. The Rocketeer – Santa Maria 

Walt Disney Pictures got its toes wet in comic book superhero films with “The Rocketeer” in 1991. Much of the film’s non-Los Angeles scenes were shot at the Santa Maria Airport and surrounding areas. The film was well-received, but plans for sequels were scrapped after the movie only performed “modestly” at the box office. Director Joe Johnston would go on to make another comic book film, “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

3. Batman: The Movie – Santa Barbara

Bam! Pow! Batman’s first big screen appearance, in 1966, showed the caped crusader running along Stern’s Wharf in Santa Barbara looking for the villain’s secret lair. While most everyone enjoys all the various and recent versions of Gotham City’s superhero, it might be time to go revisit what started all the fun with this campy and fun movie. 

2. Scarface – Santa Barbara

The story of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana is one that Walter White could only dream of. In the carnage-infused climax at Tony’s Miami mansion, you may recognize that it’s actually in Santa Barbara. The scene also seems to have inspired part of the Harold Ramis comedy, “Bedazzled” with Brendan Fraser, which had an action-packed drug lord compound scene that was also filmed in Santa Barbara.

1. John Adams – Santa Maria

Yes, this isn’t a movie, but this Golden Globe-winning series is a masterpiece from HBO and perfect to binge at home as we head into Memorial Day and Independence Day in an election year. Earlier this year was the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, which is depicted in the opening parts of this series. It follows the Paul Giamatti as John Adams in a remarkable telling of the man’s life. What you may not know is a good portion of the visual effects were done in Santa Maria by CafeFX, also known for doing effects in movies like “Pan’s Labyrinth” or “The Mist.” 

Honorable Mention

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Touch of Satan, S10, E8 – Santa Ynez Valley

Alright, this one is so special it needs its own category. Ever see movies that are so bad they’re funny? Well, that’s what “Mystery Science Theater 3000” does all the time. You can binge bad movies until the cows come home, but if you want something with a local backdrop then watch this beauty. Filmed in 1971 Santa Ynez Valley, this horror film is worthy of the bad jokes that two robots and a trapped spaceman fire at it. 

Be sure to check out all of Central Coast Film Society’s spotlights of other Central Coast films on their social media or website: