Movies Starring Lane County — What to Watch Tonight
Do you know the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region is in quite a few movies? Our small historic towns, lush valley, sweeping coastline and beautiful mountains have drawn film crews from across the country for decades. Discover places you know or have visited in Hollywood blockbusters, independent movies and popular TV shows. Here are some of our favorite Lane County movies to watch — and what better time then now to do so? Order a pizza, watch the movies and see if you can spot the filming locations.
Eugene, Dexter, Cottage Grove
This 70s cult classic is probably Eugene's most memorable movie and it bestowed a legacy of beloved traditions and tales in the community. The story centers on a rogue fraternity house and their outrageous exploits while trying to keep their house charter.
Viewed today, "Animal House" is rife with crude racial and misogynistic behavior and jokes — so be prepared. We advise watching it with a historic lens, as a reflection of its era. Look for many locations —and locals who filled in as "extras"— from Eugene's University of Oregon campus to Lowell/Dexter to Cottage Grove. And discover why "Shout" is played at every football game today! Once you've watched the original, you may wish to follow up with the documentary "Animal House of Blues" which delves into the making of the film.
Stand By Me
Brownsville, Eugene, Cottage Grove, Veneta, Junction City
This coming-of-age 80s blockbuster sprawled across Lane County with film locations from Junction City to Cottage Grove. Four best friends, age twelve, go on a journey to find the body of a missing kid. Their adventure becomes a defining moment in their lives and explores the importance and meaning of friendship.
Brownsville, north of Lane County, has a walking tour and museum exhibits dedicated to "Stand By Me", but many of the iconic scenes are here, so a road trip makes the movie tour complete. "Stand By Me" is not only jammed-packed with local sites, you may even note area residents (grown up now!) as extras. There is a lot of explicit language in the movie.
Filmed in the 90s, "Without Limits" tells the 70s biographical story of running champion Steve Prefontaine. Unlike the similar movie "Prefontaine" released a year earlier, "Without Limits" is filmed in Eugene and many argue is the better movie. Of course, we are biased to believe that too.
If you know anything about Eugene, you know the importance of running to this community, and "Without Limits" is a must watch for all track fans. Look for scenes at historic Hayward Field with the former grand stands, Heceta Beach on the Oregon Coast, and even glimpses of coach Bill Bowerman's house in Springfield. University of Oregon faculty and students also appear in bit parts.
A lessor known, but more recent depiction of Eugene's running scene, hit the screen in 2017. "Tracktown" was produced by University of Oregon runner Alexi Pappas who also starred in the fictional story of an Olympic-bound runner sidelined briefly by injury. With present day backdrops, this is a fun film for residents and runners alike.
Buster Keaton filmed this 20s silent, black and white, action-adventure-comedy in the historic picturesque town of Cottage Grove. Ranked in the American Film Institute's top 100 films (#18), this classic film has Oregon masquerading as the South during the Civil War, from Main Street to the famous train crash scene.
Okay, so technically this is a cartoon on Fox and an animated feature (2007), so it wasn't "filmed" here. But "The Simpsons'" Springfield is believed to be based on Oregon's Springfield since the show's creator, Matt Groening, was from Portland and lived in the Eugene area. He's even called it "the real Springfield" himself. And anyways, it is really fun to watch the shows and speculate on what cartoon depictions actually match brick and mortar locations here.
More Movies & TV Shows
So what about "The Goonies" movie and the TV show "Portlandia"? Well those were filmed in Astoria and Portland respectively, outside of Lane County. But they are still ones every Oregonian should be see. And there are a ton more filmed in Lane County and even more in Oregon, so if you want to catch up on your local movie lore, there is plenty of Hollywood material to keep you busy!