A house just a couple of blocks away from our apartment is regularly used for film shoots. This week the big trailers sit on the cross streets and last night the light trees illuminated the front yard of the house so that at first I thought there was some night crew from CalTrans fixing a pothole. Based on the cars parked on the street as I drive by the location on my way home from work, it appears the film or television show takes place in the 1940’s-1950’s.
I’ve lived here for nearly four years now and I still cannot get it in my head that entertainment is one of the the main industries in Southern California. Part of me still finds these crews mysterious, magical, and other words that begin with “m”. When I was a kid in Sanger, one of the biggest events that ever happened was a movie was filmed at a nearby ranch. Our small town was abuzz for the few weeks the production was in town. As the owners of the closest hardware store to the production, my parents benefited greatly from the film. People in the town daydreamed aloud of hoping to see the film’s stars drive through on Academy or Jensen avenues, or eating at one of the restaurants. At the time, the film’s star was one of the biggest in Hollywood.
For Sanger, seeing the movie trucks and trailers was a unique experience. In Southern California, however, those trucks and trailers are the equivalent of John Deer combines in the San Joaquin Valley—they are the standard equipment of the industry driving the economy. Still, I do not respond to seeing film locations the same as I do when I see a tractor tilling a field in the Sanger countryside. I rubberneck whenever I pass a film crew, hoping I can catch a glimpse of some celebrity. I tell myself it is so that I can later relay to my friends in a superior and demystifying tone, “He’s actually really short.” In all honesty, there is still some glamour attached to celebrity for this small town boy—there is some hope of magic that exists in this cynic.
For those who have been wondering with great expectation what was the movie filmed in Sanger, it was the Patrick Swayze masterpiece, Road House.