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Filming The Goonies on N. Oregon Coast: at Astoria, Cannon Beach

Published 08/09/21 at 12:42 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Filming The Goonies on N. Oregon Coast: at Astoria, Cannon Beach

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(Astoria, Oregon) - “Goonies Never Die” is the phrase that lingers down through the decades, almost 40 years since The Goonies was filmed on the Oregon coast and then released in early ‘85. It's a phrase that rings true with memories of the movie's locales as well. Cannon Beach and Astoria saw the lion's share of the action in this state back in ‘84, but the southern Oregon coast's Bandon got a few minutes of fame out of the deal as well.

Yes, California backlots – and even a bit of Bodega Bay – were used in two-thirds of the movie. Yet The Goonies is regarded as an Oregon thing, a serious point of pride for residents. Now, you can revisit entire chunks of the movie all over Astoria, and the massive following the movie has (it's too big to call “cult” anymore) is fiercely devoted, with Astoria a major pilgrimage for devotees.

The Goonies' early days here are a bit of an adventure as well, starting with even before they arrived in Astoria. Back in the summer of 1984, Ron Cowan of the Statesman Journal wrote about how tenuous the movie's beginnings were. According to his talks with producer Harvey Bernhard, the studio was pushing hard for a summer ‘85 opening, and soon theaters had it actually booked it for those dates. Bernhard said normal movie prep time is seven months: Goonies had to be prepped in seven weeks. He called it “killer, it was murder.”

At this point, the movie locations had not even been set. The movie stood to lose $3 to $4 million dollars a day if it didn't meet that deadline.

Interestingly enough, the film was to originally take place on the east coast, however Bernard loved the Pacific Northwest. He had a second home in Washington, and he and scouters looked heavily at the Washington coast. Then, with Oregon's Department of Economic Development leading them around, they discovered Astoria and were entranced. Bernhard pushed Astoria on director Richard Donner (who recently died), and when Donner visited he was apparently in love with the spot.

Bernhard even said that without Laura Pryor from the state agency, there would likely be no Goonies.


Photo courtesy Clatsop County Historical Society: the makeshift Fratelli hideout

Over the decades, those involved with the film raved about how cooperative the State of Oregon and the people of Astoria and Cannon Beach were. One aspect that comes up is California beach towns had become, well, greedy over the decades. They knew the value of having a Hollywood film made there and regularly demanded money for the presence of a crew. Oregon had none of that, although Donner and others did remark there should be better tax breaks for future film projects in Oregon. That definitely came to fruition, eventually.

Astoria then became forever immortalized in the movie. Even as filming had barely started, there was a complete veil of secrecy around the project, and Hollywood publicists were firm in shooing the press away. Yet one tidbit was proudly revealed: Astoria would definitely be mentioned in the film.

At the time, some 85 film crew were lodged at the Thunderbird Inn in Astoria, and the 20 cast members were scattered around elsewhere in town. The movie dumped over $1 million into the local economy in the end.

Filming locations were many around the north Oregon coast burgh, with one big one in Cannon Beach. Ecola State Park was used as the location for the Lighthouse Restaurant and the hideout of the Fratelli family. Oregon State Parks reportedly initially bristled at the idea of building the fake exterior on the grounds, but crew and state officials came to an agreement. The facade was built around an existing structure then dismantled. So, sadly, that's one spot fans can only guess about while visiting the park.

However, some scenes do show the lookout up top here, especially that iconic one that features Haystack Rock in the distance. The rock structure with the big at Indian Beach got the name Goonies Rock years after the movie was released, but it wasn't where that was actually filmed. Bodega Bay in California was the locale for that final scene and that big gap, but some misunderstandings caused the place at Indian Beach to get the name Goonies Rock.


Photo courtesy Clatsop County Historical Society: filming Goonies

Astoria itself is full of sights easily recognizable in the film and many have in recent years been marked with plaques by the State of Oregon. You can get an eyeful of these and the self-guided tour at this link.

Among the famous places is the long, winding road up Coxcomb Hill, the Flavel House, various spots around Astoria's docks, and the chase scenes through the city streets were numerous.

A fun bit of trivia: George Robotham was the stunt coordinator on the film, but he also played a guard in the jailhouse. According to hardcore fans, if you look close enough at the chase scene involving actress Anne Ramsey (Mama Fratelli), you can see a man in the vehicle at one point and not her.

That jailhouse is a major contribution to the film. It eventually shuttered its doors and became the Oregon Film Museum, which hosts enormous amount of material on flicks done on the coast and around Oregon.

Other sundry tidbits:

- Steven Spielberg, one of the main creators of the film, at one point arrived in Astoria by a Lear jet. Police closed roads for him while en route to film locations.

- A famous scene in the movie where Sloth utters the iconic “Are you hungry? I got a Baby Ruth,” was actually supposed to be an Almond Joy in the original storyboard.

- The original plan for the dilapidated restaurant hideout was that there would be a graveyard surrounding that. This was scrapped because writers later agreed it wouldn't be realistic to have a cemetery in front of a restaurant. However, think how history might be different if producers asked state parks to also build a cemetery on top of Ecola?

- Actor Jeff Cohen (Chunk) was apparently displeased there was only one McDonald's in Astoria.

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Filming The Goonies on N. Oregon Coast: at Astoria, Cannon Beach
Goonies Rock, Cannon Beach

Photo courtesy Clatsop County Historical Society: filming Goonies

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