Museum exhibit celebrates the movies made in Chico
There have been over 20 movies filmed in the Chico area, and the current exhibit at the Chico Museum highlighting those films helps bring the Hollywood magic closer to you. As you browse through the many posters, newspaper clippings, photos and costume reproductions you feel as though you are right on the set with the other Chico “extras.”
When you enter the museum and turn to your right, you are drawn into a replica of the old train depot in Chico, renamed “Grandview,” as it was for Jimmy Stewart’s arrival in the 1946 movie Magic Town. Chico then became Magic Town for many locals who made their screen debuts as extras in the street scenes of this movie.
Then you travel on to Sherwood Forest (a.k.a. Bidwell Park), where The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed in 1938. To the left is the Patrick Gallery, which contains the information desk, a very small gift shop, a four-seat “video theater” and more movie displays, including showcases for Gone With the Wind and The Red Badge of Courage, among others. There is also a video set-up from the Butte County Film Commission showing clips of many of the movies filmed in Chico and Butte County.
All of the individual displays are noteworthy, but some of the movies are not very well known (see list below). Movie buffs may recall most of them, and a lot of us may remember quite a few, but almost everyone will remember at least two, Gone With the Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
The latter, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland, is probably the most remembered locally of all the movies filmed in Chico. Most of the exterior scenes for this movie were filmed in Bidwell Park. One outstanding scene uses Hooker Oak as the tree from which Robin Hood and all his Merry Men jump down upon the Sheriff of Nottingham and his men. Another is the scene between Robin Hood and Little John fighting on a log over Big Chico Creek. If you want to see the entire film, it is set up in the little video theater in the museum.
One fascinating bit of trivia I learned is that the horse Maid Marian used in The Adventures of Robin Hood was later bought by Roy Rogers and became the famous Trigger. There are also a couple of examples that show the Chico Chamber of Commerce was alive and well even way back then. One is a poster for the “Farewell Dance” sponsored by the chamber for Warner Bros. after shooting was finished. It was held in the Chico High School gmnasium and “Cost $1.00 Ladies Free.”
So take an hour (or more if you want to see The Adventures of Robin Hood while you are there) and go see Chico in the Movies at the Chico Museum this summer. The Chico Museum is in the old Carnegie building (located on Salem Street between First and Second streets) that once housed the Chico Public Library. It is open 12 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is free, but donations are suggested at $1 for adults and 50¢ for children.
Movies filmed in the Chico area:
1913 Folly of a Life of Crime
1937 Gold is Where You Find It
1938 Stand Up and Fight
1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood
1939 Gone With the Wind
1939 The Thin Man (sequel)
1940 The Waterloo Bridge
1943 A Salute to the Marines
1944 Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
1946 Magic Town
1951 The Red Badge of Courage
1955 The Purple Mask
1955 Friendly Persuasion
1966 The Chase
1970 Tick… Tick… Tick…
1974 The Klansman
1976 The Outlaw
1995 Stolen Innocence
1996 Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy
1997 Under Wraps