Thursday, August 12, 2010

Out of the Past in Bridgeport, California

OUT OF THE PAST (1947), one of the quintessential examples of the film noir genre, stars Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer. It was directed by Jacques Tourneur.

It just so happens that the film's opening scenes were shot in Bridgeport, California, a small town in the Eastern High Sierras where I vacation most summers.

Most of the town's main street can be glimpsed at one point or another in the movie. Last month I took some photos of a few spots in town which are seen clearly in the film.

The town draws its name from the bridge over the East Walker River which is crossed as one enters town driving north on the 395. Here's a photo of the river shot from the area of the bridge:


Just past the bridge and to the right is this house, which is the home of Ann (Virginia Huston) in the film:


It's a private home so I decided not to go around and shoot the front porch. The distinctive three chimneys can easily be matched up with shots in the film.

In this bottom photo there is also a glimpse of the the columns of the front porch, seen in the film when Ann walks out to meet Jeff (Mitchum).


In the first shot after the credits, a car drives up Main Street heading this direction...


...and then pulls in to the left at Jeff's gas station, which was once located at the current site of the fire station:


Another shot of the fire station is below. At the end of the road to the left of the fire station is the current elementary school. In the film a small white building can be spotted in the same location.

That white building, the town's former schoolhouse, was relocated to the town park in the mid-'60s, where it now serves as the Mono County Museum; the museum website and a photo of the building seen in the film are here.


The 1880 Mono County Courthouse is also seen in the film.

The restaurant in the film was located in what is now Ken's Sporting Goods, at the left:


The courthouse can be glimpsed to the left of Ken's. Click to enlarge this or any of the photos.

The porch posts seen next to the restaurant in the film, which are also visible in vintage postcards I've collected, were removed decades ago, but otherwise the building has changed little over the years.

Lower Twin Lake, a few miles outside of Bridgeport:


IMDb credits Lower Twin Lake as one of the film's locations, but the location detective who also put together this wonderful video of the OOTP sites believes, based on the way the mountain ridges line up in the scene where Jeff is fishing, that it was actually filmed at Upper Twin Lake further up the road.

Bridgeport is also part of the background history of another classic, George Stevens' SHANE. In an interview Stevens once described Bridgeport as the inspiration for the little town in his Western, although he actually filmed it in Wyoming. An article on SHANE at Big Hollywood recently included a Stevens quote describing Bridgeport, which I believe I first read in the book George Stevens Interviews.

Further south on the 395, Stevens had filmed the epic GUNGA DIN (1939) in the Movie Rocks outside Lone Pine, California. The Film Museum in Lone Pine has a number of nice mementoes from that film.

A couple final photos of popular spots in the Bridgeport area. The Jolly Kone on Main Street has been in existence for decades; I ate there as a five-year-old. It's quite common to hear languages from all over the world in the little parking lot, as tourists who have been to Yosemite continue up the 395 and stop in Bridgeport.


Alas, the town's very fine bakery, also in existence for decades, was closed by its relatively new owners before Summer 2009. Everything is still inside the building, hopefully awaiting a new owner. It is greatly missed. (2012 Update: The original owners have reopened the bakery!)

Virginia Creek Settlement is located south of town, near the turnoff to the ghost town of Bodie. Bodie, a State Historic Park, is a "must" for newcomers to the area. When I was a child it was a 13-mile drive on a dirt road to get to Bodie; now only 3 miles are unpaved.


The food at this cozy restaurant is excellent, including the Best Pizza Anywhere:

A visit to Bridgeport isn't complete without breakfast at Hays Street Cafe. You'll want to return!

Bridgeport is one of my very favorite places. I highly recommend visiting the area and spending time in Bridgeport to discover what makes it so special.

Previously: Back From the Sierras!, The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History, and Independence Day in Bridgeport, California.

August 14th Update: There's a brand-new post at Dear Old Hollywood on OUT OF THE PAST locations in Los Angeles.

Update: Laura's Miscellaneous Musings in The Dark Pages.

2014 Update: Bridgeport, California Movie Locations. More movie locations from OUT OF THE PAST plus Jacques Tourneur's NIGHTFALL (1957).

September 2014 Update: Tonight's Movie: Out of the Past (1947) - A Warner Archive DVD Review.

15 Comments:

Blogger Raquelle said...

Thanks for taking me on a virtual tour of Bridgeport, CA! I hope to visit there some day.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Raquelle! I hope you're able to make that visit one day. :) :)

Best wishes,
Laura

1:11 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

I have not been there for so long, it still looks the same. I've snitched the first photo for my screensaver.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Other than the periodic closure or a store changing to another building on Main Street, the town is very unchanged over the years, Panavia. In this crazy world the constancy is rather reassuring. :) I feel very sentimental when I hear the courthouse chimes ring.

Glad you enjoyed the photos!

Best wishes,
Laura

5:21 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Missy http://www.missyisms.com

10:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad you liked them, Missy! :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:16 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

This was terrific. I love seeing photos of movie locations. Thanks.

4:49 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

It helps keep development low when your town is surrounded by National Forest. Real Estate is very expensive in Bridgeport.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks very much, Jacqueline!

Best wishes,
Laura

7:07 PM  
Blogger Robby Cress said...

How funny that we posted on this film on the same weekend. Thanks for sharing the link to your post!

8:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Robby! That was a great coincidence!

Best wishes,
Laura

8:43 PM  
Blogger The Kid In The Front Row said...

mmmmmmm PIZZA.

9:21 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I took a bunch of similar photos of Bridgeport on one drive through so I could match them up to the movie. I used to live in the Sierra Mts. so drove through the town all the time on the way home. I love it there, and I also love that, like you said, it really hasn't changed.

Great location post!

9:27 AM  
Blogger John said...

This is a great page. Thank you.
From Bridgeport to Walker my favorite place in the world. Have not missed a summer in 37 years since I 6 months old. It is my home away from home. I really want to see this movie. My dad watched it for the first time a couple months ago he loved seeing old Bridgeport.

8:26 PM  
Blogger JIM RICK said...

I LIVED JUST OUTSIDE (SOUTH) OF BRIDGEPORT FOR SEVERAL YEARS BACK IN THE LATE 90'S...THE MOVIE STARRED ROBERT MITCHUM AND I MET SOMEONE WHO HAD MANAGED A MOTEL MR. MITCHUM OCCUPIED WHEN SHOOTING "OUT OF THE PAST" IN 1947...HE LEFT HIS ROOM A TOTAL MESS AND HE WAS HIGH ON MARY JANE MOST OF THE TIME. GUESS THAT ACCOUNTS FOR HIS "SLEEPY" PERFORMANCE IN THE FILM...BRIDGEPORT IS ALSO THE HOME OF THE PIUTE INDIAN RESERVATION WHICH FINALLY GOT SOME FINANCIAL HELP AFTER MANY YEARS OF BEING IGNORED BY OUR GOVRNMENT.

7:28 AM  

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