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In 1946, 20th Century Fox purchased what was then the Crags Country Club, shortly after filming 1941’s “How Green Was My Valley”. From that time until 1974, the property was used as the company’s movie production ranch. During that period, countless movies and television shows were filmed there, doubling for countries all over the world. The versatile landscape was used for time periods from the Old West, old Europe and even Earth’s apocalyptic future.

 

Even before the Fox owned the property, movies had been shot there dating back to the early part of the century. In 1919, “Daddy-Long-Legs”, with Mary Pickford, filmed a sequence at the Rock Pool. Throughout the 20’s and 30’s, not only did 20 Century Fox film at the park, but MGM, RKO, Columbia Pictures and United Artists all utilized the beautiful and adaptable scenery for their motion pictures.

 

In 1974, the studio sold the land to the State of California. Two years later, it would be opened to the public as Malibu Creek State Park. Even today, films, television shows, and commercials are still being shot here. Keep an eye out. You want to be ready for your close-up!

Download a Full list of Films and Television filmed at the park (PDF)


NOTABLE FILMS

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

One of Roddy McDowell’s early foray into filming at what is now Malibu Creek State Park (and he had many), was Best Picture winner “How Green Was My Valley”, an epic motion picture set in a Welsh mining town. As a budget saving measure, as well as the fact that World War II was raging on in Europe, it was decided to build a Welsh town to shoot in the park. Hiking or biking up the Grasslands Trail from the High Road, the location of where the town was built is just at the top of the steep climb. Legend has it, that the 3 Bells Tavern set, which was located just as the trail levels off, was stocked with real liquor at the insistence of director John Ford. Directing movies is thirsty work.

Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House (1948) and Invaders from Mars (1986)

Constructed for the 1948 Cary Grant feature, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”, the titular house still stands just off of the campground.  It was prominently featured in the 1986 remake of “Invaders from Mars”. Today, the house is used by the Malibu Creek State Park rangers.

 

The Sersen Tank (Various Films, 1962 – 1968)

In 1962, 20th Century Fox built the Sersen Tank on their movie ranch.  It could hold 3 million gallons of water and was 3 feet deep.  At the back of the tank was a giant screen, angled back slightly to catch the sun. The screen was 366 feet wide by 85 feet high and was covered with plywood panels with a layer of canvas depicting a painted sky scene.  It was built for “Cleopatra” and named for special effects artist, Fred Sersen. In addition to “Cleopatra”, the tank has served as “sea and sky” to many motion pictures, including “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, “Planet of the Apes”, “Batman-The Movie”, and even “The Towering Inferno”. In August of 1982, the sky-backing was removed and the Sersen Tank was filled with dirt.  In the years since its removal, the location had been given the nickname, “Skypool”, but that was never its official production location name when the studio owned the land.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Though most of the popular Newman/Redford western classic was filmed in Colorado and Utah, arguably, the film’s most famous scene was shot right here in Malibu Creek State Park. In the sequence where Butch and Sundance are cornered at the top of mountain and they decide to jump off into the river, that “river” was, in fact, Century Lake. Two stuntmen, dressed as Butch and Sundance, jumped from a high crane over the lake. The footage was “flopped” to match the action from the movie and a matte painting disguised the background of the Santa Monica Mountains. Voilà! Movie magic.

Planet of the Apes (Original Films 1968-1973)

In 1968, 20th Century Fox released the original “Planet of the Apes”, which was largely filmed at Malibu Creek State Park.  The film was followed by four sequels, of which “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” (1973), also filmed extensively in the park. Among the location highlights were, the Rock Pool, the meadow near the campground (which was turn into a cornfield in the first film and a battlefield in the last film), and the former site of the Crags Country Club, which served as the location where Taylor attempts to write in the dirt while trapped in the large cage. One cinematic artifact can still be seen in the park.  A cage used in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” is still present, just off of Cage Creek Trail.

Pleasantville (1998)

Needing a quaint mid-century town for the film to stand in for the town of Pleasantville, director Gary Ross and New Line Cinema opted to build the town from scratch in Malibu Creek State Park.  This would keep the production from being disturbed by on-lookers and outsiders.  The town was built in the shadow of the hills that served as the set for “How Green Was My Valley” and in the area of what is now the main and lower parking lot. The town was constructed of dozens of buildings and the entire area was paved to make it look like a real town.  When production was finished, the set was removed, but the new asphalt paving remained to become our parking lots.


NOTABLE TELEVISION

The Rifleman (1958 – 1963)

Filming of the popular western series, starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, was frequent over its five seasons.  However, it was the very first episode with the very first scene featuring Lucas and his son, Mark finding their new ranch that spectacularly featured Malibu Creek State Park. The scene was shot on the north side of the High Road, very near the picnic table on the way to the Visitor Center.

The Partridge Family (1970 – 1974)

The world’s most famous singing family, the Partridges, once drove there Mondrian painted bus right down the High Road, ending up at the Rock Pool for a picnic. In the episode “Where Do Mermaids Go?”, from the second season, the Partridge Family is having a picnic when they spy a young runaway girl swimming in the Rock Pool.

ARK II (1976)

The short-lived, live action Saturday morning kids show, Ark II, split the filming duties between Paramount Ranch (just a few miles away) and Malibu Creek State Park.  Almost exclusively filmed outside during the day, one great view of the park is in the final episode, “Orkus”.  Jonah, the Ark II commander, flies an actual working jet-pack over Century Lake.  He then lands on Crags Road and enters the re-dressed amphitheater from the original “Planet of the Apes”.

Charlie’s Angels (1976 – 1981)

Everyone’s favorite television detective threesome shot a few episodes here at the park over the five year run. Season 1 episode, “Angels in Chains” saw the angels hiding under the bridge to the Visitor Center, followed by a high speed chase down the High Road in a dirty potato truck. Season 4’s “Angel Hunt” has a good deal of scenes filmed at the Rock Pool.

The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (1975 – 1979)

Wonder Woman, herself, graced Malibu Creek State Park for an episode. In Season 2’s “The Bermuda Triangle Crisis”, Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman rescues Steve when his parachute is caught in a tree by Century Lake.


FILMING LOCATIONS MAP


M*A*S*H LIVES ON

Malibu Creek State Park is proud to be home to the outdoor set of television’s legendary program M*A*S*H. The site still draws visitors from all over the world decades after the show left the air.

 

Learn More about M*A*S*H at MCSP


THREE MAGICAL MILES

Written by Malibu Creek Docent Brian Rooney, the exciting new edition of the bestselling local history book covering Malibu Creek State Park and the surrounding area is full of fascinating history that few people know about. The book is packed with over 500 photographs covering many local movies and television shows. A must-have for any fan of MCSP, this book is sold at the park visitor center and online below.