If you go to the movies, you've been to California. It's no surprise that Hollywood's dream merchants often don't look too far from the studio gates when looking for inspiration or locations. Okies, terminators, dirty cops and valley girls have all found a place in California's cinema story. Here's ten of the best.
Maltese Falcon (1941) – John Huston directs Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, the classic San Francisco private eye.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) – Billy Wilder’s classic stars Gloria Swanson and William Holden in a bonfire of Hollywood vanities.
Vertigo (1958) – The Golden Gate Bridge dazzles and dizzies in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak.
The Graduate (1967) – Dustin Hoffman flees status-obsessed Californian suburbia to search for meaning, heading across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley (in the wrong direction).
Harold and Maude (1971) – The ultimate May to December romance features the eternal spring of San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers and the fabulous ruin of the Sutro Baths.
Chinatown (1974) – Roman Polanski’s gripping version of the early-20th-century water wars that made and nearly broke LA.
Blade Runner (1982) – Ridley Scott’s sci-fi cyberpunk thriller projects LA into the 21st century, with high-rise corporate fortresses and chaotic streets.
The Player (1992) – Directed by Robert Altman and starring Tim Robbins, this satire on the Industry features dozens of cameos by actors spoofing themselves.
The Big Lebowski (1998) – The Coen brothers’ madcap film of the Dude’s SoCal misadventures spawned San Francisco’s annual Lebowski Fest.
Sideways (2004) – An Oscar-winning bachelors’ romp through the Santa Barbara Wine Country maligns merlot and scores points for pinot.