In spite of the grand scenery, few movies have been shot in Idaho. That’s largely for logistical reasons, i.e., lack of motels in remote regions, lack of local production talent, lack of roads, etc.
Here are some movies that were shot in Idaho or had scenes in Idaho. Note that the links lead to an Amazon page about each movie. I get a few pennies if you buy something from Amazon after following that link. I don’t care if you buy anything, Amazon just wants you to know.
1923, The Grubstake, written and directed by Nell Shipman, she also starred in it. This and a series of short movies were shot at Priest Lake.
1931, Call of the Rockies, was partially filmed near Heise Hot Springs. It was also shown as All Faces West.
1936, I Met Him in Paris, starring Claudette Colbert, Melvyn Douglas, and Robert Young. Shot in Sun Valley, it was the first movie to take advantage of the new resort.
1936, Come and Get It, starring Edward Arnold, Joel McCrea, Frances Farmer, and Walter Brennan. A logging film where some of the exterior scenes were shot along the Clearwater.
1940, Northwest Passage, Starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, and Ruth Hussey. Shot near McCall at what is today the North Beach Unit of Ponderosa State Park. See previous post about the movie.
1941, Sun Valley Serenade, starring Sonja Henie, John Payne, and Glenn Miller. Shot partially in Sun Valley, you can still see it showing there every day.
1947, The Unconquered, starring Gary Cooper, Ward bond, and Paulette Goddard. Set in the 1760s, Fremont County became Virginia and other East Coast locations in this Cecil B. DeMille movie, though most of the “outdoor” scenes were shot on a Hollywood sound stage.
1950, Duchess of Idaho, starring Esther Williams, Van Johnson, and John Lund. The romantic comedy was shot in Sun Valley, where Esther Williams trades her trademark swimsuit for a ski parka.
1953, How to Marry a Millionaire, starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, and Lauren Bacall. Allegedly some scenes were shot in Idaho, though this is suspect. The movie largely takes place in New York City.
1955, Storm Fear, starring Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, and Dan Duryea was a crime noir filmed partly in Sun Valley.
1956, Bus Stop, starring Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, and Arthur O’Connell. Some scenes were shot in Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley. The movie was a highly acclaimed drama in which Monroe sang “That Old Black Magic.”
1959, Last Clear Chance, starring no one, really. It was a film sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad to promote safety at railroad crossings. It’s of some interest because it was shot in Idaho and William Agee, 21 at the time, appeared in it. Agee was later the CEO of Boise Cascade, Bendix, and finally Morrison Knudsen at various times. Many blame him for the demise of MK.
1965, Ski Party, starring Fankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman was a sex comedy shot in and around Sun Valley. It is noted (?) for the music in the film, including Lesley Gore’s “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” James brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good,” and a couple of songs sung by Avalon. It was the last in a series of teen films that included Beach Blanket Bingo.
1973, Idaho Transfer, starring some people you’ve never heard of and Keith Carradine. It was an apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Peter Fonda. Most of the film was shot at Craters of the Moon, with some scenes film at Bruneau Dunes State Park. One critic called it a “usless piece of drivel about an obnoxious group of teens.” (Jay Robert Nash, The Motion Picture Guide).
1975, Breakheart Pass, starring Charles Bronson, Richard Crenna, Jill Ireland, and Ben Johnson. Filmed in North Idaho around Pierce. Many of the Native American extras were Nez Perce from Lapwai. It was notable as the last movie for veteran stuntman Yakima Canutt.
1980, Bronco Billy, starring Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, and Scatman Crothers. Filmed in and around Boise, Eagle, and Meridian. A lot of local talent became extras in the movie.
1980, Heaven’s Gate, starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Jeff Bridges, Willem Dafoe, Micky Rourke, Joseph Cotton, and others. Shot partly in Wallace, it is best known for being a big flop. It cost around $44 million and brought in less than $4 million at the box office. Subsequent re-edits have received some acclaim.
1985, Pale Rider, starring, directed, and produced by Clint Eastwood. It was shot mostly in the Boulder Mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It was the first big-budget western shot after Heaven’s Gate and its impact was about 180 degrees from that failure. It received critical acclaim and pulled in more than $41 million on a budget just shy of $7 million.
1988, Moving, starring Richard Pryor. The setting is Boise, but only a couple of shots were actually filmed there.
1990, Ghost Dad, directed by Sidney Poitier and starry Bill Cosby. It was a seriously unfunny film, according to reviews. Some scenes MAY have been shot in Idaho.
1991, Talent for the Game, starring Edward James Olmos and Lorraine Bracco, used Genesee as its backdrop, with some scenes shot in Kellogg. It went quickly to video.
1992, Dark Horse, starring Ed Begley Jr, Samantha Eggar, Ari Meyers, Mimi Rogers, and Tab Hunter. Hunter wrote the original story. David Hemmings directed the film, which was shot not far from his home in Sun Valley.
1992, Toys, starring Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, and LL Cool J. Directed by Barry Levinson, much of it was filmed in and around Moscow. Levinson was nominated for a Razzie for the film. Un, not an honor.
1997, Dante’s Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton. Wallace became a town covered in ash for this (putting on my reviewer hat, now) ridiculous movie. It did well financially in spite of mostly negative reviews.
1998, Smoke Signals, starring Irene Bedard, Adam Bent, and Evan Adams. Shot on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation around Worley and Plummer and based on a short story by Sherman Alexie. It was an all native production that won numerous awards.
1998, Breakfast of Champions, starring Bruce Willis, Albert Finney, Nick Nolte, Barbara Hershey, and Lucas Haas. Based loosely on the Kurt Vonnegut novel of the same name it was shot in and around Twin Falls. It was a box office bomb that was widely panned by critics.
1999, Wild Wild West, starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline. This steampunk western comedy was loosely a take-off from the 1960s TV series of the same name. Some of the train exteriors were filmed on the old Camas Prairie Railroad, which has an abundance of dramatic trestles.
2001, Town and Country, starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Gary Shandling, Andie MacDowell, Nastassja Kinski, and Charlton Heston. In spite of its stellar cast and a rewrite by Buck Henry, this one was a legendary flop, costing more than $100 million to make and bringing in just over $10 million. It was shot partially in Sun Valley.
2003, Shredder, starring Scott Weinger and Lindsey McKeon was a slasher film sohot at Silver Mounta Ski Resort, Kellogg.
2004, Napoleon Dynamite, starring Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Aaron Ruell, Jon Gries, and Sandy Martin. Shot on a budget of about $400,000, this collaboration between BYU film students using mostly friends as actors earned about $45 million. Written by Preston natives Jared and Jerusha Hess, and directed by Jared, it remains a cult classic.
2012, The Mooring, starring Hallie Todd, and others. This was a straight to DVD movie that was shot in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Chatcolet Lake, and the St. Joe show up in the film, along with camping scenes from Rocky Point and Plummer point in Heyburn State Park.
And, what have I missed? Do you know of some scenes that were shot in Idaho, or maybe an entire movie? Send me details or comment.