Filmed on campus: Pacific has a rich history with Hollywood

Filming on campus

R.P.M. was filmed at University of the Pacific in 1970, starring Ann-Margret and Anthony Quinn

Heralded for its New England charm and often cited as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, Pacific has served as the idyllic setting in film classics and Hollywood blockbusters since the 1940s.

The Stockton campus is featured in numerous films that have produced eight Academy Award nominees and have starred powerhouse actors and actresses including Ann-Margret, Bing Crosby, John Cusack, Harrison Ford, Joaquin Phoenix, Anthony Quinn and Christopher Plummer, among others.

“Pacific has such a distinguished history of being featured in so many films and television shows going back to the 1940s," said Scott Liggett, Pacific Regent and longtime Hollywood executive. "Film production companies love our aesthetic likeness to East Coast Ivy League universities and the fact that it’s a short hop up to Northern California."

Prominent Pacific alums Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Isaak have all found success on the big screen. Leigh, a Stockton native, achieved her biggest success starring in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960), where she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Pacific’s first appearance on the big screen was in the 1949 triple Academy Award winner "All the King's Men." Based on the career of Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, the film classic was shot entirely in Stockton.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas chose the Faye Spanos Concert Hall as the exterior setting for fictitious Marshall College in Bedford, Connecticut – the university where Indiana Jones teaches in the four-film franchise.

Disney’s 1997 film "Flubber" starring Robin Williams took place in and around Pacific. The university played the part of Medfield College, where Williams' character teaches and discovers his flying rubber creation. The beautiful exterior shots reveal Pacific's lush rose gardens and ivy-covered brick-faced buildings, architectural columns and gothic towers.

Other movies  filmed on campus include "High Time" (1960), "R.P.M." (1970), "Dreamscape" (1984), "The Sure Thing" (1985), "Inventing the Abbotts" (1997) and "Dead Man on Campus" (1998).

"Pacific is able to offer productions such a wide range of venues in which to film, from our traditional brick buildings to athletic venues to art galleries and gardens," said Liggett. "We want to share the beauty of our campus with the world."

Liggett and several other university leaders are collaborating with local film commissions in Calaveras, Sacramento, San Francisco and Stockton to recruit film production companies to the campus.

The team is also working closely with Hollywood writers, directors and location scouts to identify movies in pre-production that have campus settings.

“Location scouts are a very tight-knit group, and they are in constant communication with each other,” said Liggett. “Once word spreads that you are easy to work with and you have a visually appealing site, they make it a point to reach out when they seek locations for filming.”

Liggett and his team recently met with producers at Netflix, who are working on the original film, "A Million Miles Away" about the inspirational life story of Pacific alumnus and former NASA astronaut José Hernandez '85. Parts of the movie are planned to be filmed on the Stockton campus.

"I do want them to show Pacific’s campus, so I’m going to push to get some recognizable scenes at Pacific, whether it’s Burns Tower or the arch near Pacific Avenue," said Hernandez. "There is no doubt Pacific is a huge part of my life story."


Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby on set for the film High Time, which was filmed at Pacific in 1960.