Palm Springs In The Movies — From ‘A Star Is Born’ to ‘MI3’

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As promised in my previous blog, I’m back with more fun Palm Springs film facts. I would like to start by saying, just for giggles, I  decided to get ChatGPT involved, to see if it had any more information than just the norm. So I asked, “What movies were shot in Palm Springs?” and it gave me a list including Springtime in the Rockies. When I asked where in Palm Springs, well, it turns out, ChatGPT lies. First it told me that Springtime in the Rockies was filmed entirely in Pennsylvania, and when I called it out for giving me two different returns, it apologized. At least it didn’t say, “I’m only human.”

The ChatGPT disputed truth is that there were a couple of scenes shot in Palm Springs, but no one seems to know where (certainly not ChatGPT). The film is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, Apple TV channels, FuboTV, FlixFling, The Roku Channel, and the Epix suite, but being that it was shot in 1937, it will be hard to recognize anything local unless you’re a ghost.

And you know what film wasn’t shot in Palm Springs? At all? The Andy Samberg feature Palm Springs. I know! I’m just as shocked as you are. It was actually shot in L.A. and Santa Clarita, because nothing says Palm Springs like not Palm Springs. Now, onto the 1990s and beyond.

The Player (1992)

This film is Palm Springs adjacent, in Desert Hot Springs, at Two Bunch Palms, a gorgeous retreat that has been favored by Hollywood players for many years. There are apocryphal stories about it once being owned by Al Capone, but Capone didn’t do business this far west. That was fellow mobster Al Wertheimer, capo of Detroit’s Purple Gang — but he didn’t own it either. The reason for the gangster stories is that there is a gun turret, and (they say) some underground “tunnels.” The last bit of info we got was that it was actually the estate of a Ford executive who was worried about the unions coming after him.

I mentioned Wertheimer, who built Colony Palms (there’s an underground room where there was gaming, a.k.a. gambling). It’s said Capone did visit Two Bunch on the occasion, and the property has a Capone room with, I’ve heard, a bullet hole in the wall. But the entire Palm Springs area was still the wild wild west at the time, and everybody had guns. And booze. So, who knows who shot the wall. Available on MAX and the usual suspects for rental.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Elliot Gould’s Vegas home is in a neighborhood called Las Palmas. The 1959 A. Quincy Jones designed property is located at 999 North Patencio Road in Palm Springs. Watch on cable (TBS and TNT) or rent on Prime or Apple.

Mission Impossible III (2006)

Mission Impossible III has Tom Cruise dodging our giant turbines in a high speed helicopter chase. The Windmills, by the way, are a great tour, you should give it a go. (To clarify, the tour is on the ground, in a vehicle, not in the sky in a helicopter – but you can ride in a warbird at the Air Museum, if that’s your speed). Check it out on AMC or Paramount+ subs. Rentals on Apple, Vudu, Redbox.

Into the Wild (2007)

This wonderfully shot film has a grim ending, but the cinematography lovingly captures the beauty and grit of the west’s wilderness. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is in one scene, but it also takes you to the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and East Jesus. This was Kristen Stewart’s first film as an “adult” (her debut was the daughter in Panic Room) and she sings. The following year, Twilight came out (about eight years before she did). Free on PlutoTV, pay at all the other streamers.

A Star is Born (2018)

There were casting calls going out all over the valley for this one. They needed a big crowd, and they got it. That was partially because they “crashed” Stagecoach, the country version of Coachella — same place, different weekends, way different crowd. They also shot at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Local stories about the cast and crew were all lovely.

Oh man. I’m all out of space, and there’s still a bit more to share, including cameos from a couple of our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. We might even get into some television shows that were shot here. Who knows? I’m a mystery!

Stay tuned…

NOTE: Now through October 30, Rex, the Cabazon dinosaur, is wearing a new outfit in honor of his pal, Pee Wee Herman, a.k.a. Paul Reubens. Rex was prominently featured in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Reubens shuffled off this mortal coil on July 30, and has hopefully landed safely in his celestial playhouse having some suds with Cap’n Carl, a.k.a. Phil Hartman.