Since the silent film era, hundreds of movies have been filmed in and around Greater Palm Springs. The desert’s proximity to Hollywood, fair weather, and favorability as a getaway destination among celebs and entertainment execs has made this sunny locale a natural choice for movie making. Nearby Pioneertown — now home to an iconic music venue, bars, shops, and modern lodging — was even built as an Old West film set.
Want to see a slice of desert life on screen? Here are 12 movies that were filmed in the area over the last decade to get you started.
Don’t Worry Darling (2022)
This mind-bender directed by Olivia Wilde stars Harry Styles and Florence Pugh as a handsome couple living in a 1950s utopian community. When Pugh begins to realize things may not be as perfect as they seem, she begins to plot her escape, and chaos ensues. Filming locations included the Canyon View Estates neighborhood in Palm Springs, the Kaufmann Desert House (of Slim Aarons “Poolside Gossip” fame), and the La Quinta Resort & Club.
Trailer: Don't Worry Darling
The Last Manhunt (2022)
Jason Momoa and Thomas Pa’a Sibbett co-wrote this Western that premiered at the inaugural Pioneertown International Film Festival. Based on true events that took place in the Mojave Desert in 1909, the story follows Willie Boy and his love, Carlota, of the Chemehuevi tribe as they go on the run after a fatal altercation with Carlota’s father. In writing the script and producing the film, which employed Indigenous actors and crew members, creators involved local tribes to ensure the story was told in a way that resonated with their oral histories.
Trailer: The Last Manhunt
Mack & Rita (2022)
When a 30-year-old writer (Elizabeth Lail) heads to Palm Springs for a friend’s bachelorette party, she visits a streetside spiritual guide in a tent and is magically transformed into her 70-year-old self, played by a very glamorous Diane Keaton. The feel-good flick sees Keaton let loose, hitting it off romantically with a younger man and becoming a social media influencer. You’ll recognize aerial views of Palm Springs and scenes filmed along Palm Canyon Drive.
Trailer: Mack & Rita
Senior Moment (2021)
William Shatner, Jean Smart, and Christopher Lloyd take to Palm Springs for this romantic comedy-drama. When retired NASA test pilot Shatner gets his driver’s license revoked after drag-racing his vintage Porsche, he’s forced to take public transportation, where he meets Smart and finds new love. Recognizable locations include the Mizell Senior Center, Jensen’s Finest Foods, Sunny Dunes Antique Mall, and the DMV.
Trailer: Senior Moment
Palm Springs (2020)
Two strangers attending a destination wedding in the High Desert get stuck in a time loop à la Groundhog Day. While the primary estates used for filming are actually located northeast of Santa Clarita, the unmistakable landscape of Joshua Tree and a private villa known as SkyHouse make more than one appearance in the film. Starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, it has a 94 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Trailer: Palm Springs
Sinatra in Palm Springs (2018)
For half a century, crooner Frank Sinatra lived, loved, and lavished in sun-drunk Palm Springs, and this documentary by Leo Zahn brings to life the decades that he spent here. Several prominent Coachella Valley residents and businesses are featured, along with archival footage and photos, for an immersive and educational depiction of the desert’s old Hollywood years.
Trailer: Sinatra in Palm Springs
A Star Is Born (2018)
Receiving a total of eight 2019 Academy Award nominations, this heart-warmer — starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper as lovestruck musicians — won one for its original song, “Shallow.” The Empire Polo Club in Indio served as the backdrop for concert scenes, which were filmed with local extras in between Coachella festival weekends and during Stagecoach, where Cooper made a surprise appearance onstage between festival sets to record a performance sequence.
Trailer: A Star Is Born
Just Getting Started (2017)
Morgan Freeman portrays the manager of a residential resort community who’s forced to team up with his rival (Tommy Lee Jones) to survive a mob hit. While principal photography happened at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico golf course, b-roll from Palm Springs showcasing the windmills, midcentury homes, and downtown area lend a local flavor to the movie whose setting is said to be the California desert.
Trailer: Just Getting Started
Ingrid Goes West (2017)
After being released from a mental health facility, Instagram lurking leads troubled millennial Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) to the West Coast, where she plans to do whatever it takes to befriend her favorite social media influencer (Elizabeth Olsen). The pair become acquainted and eventually take a cocaine-fueled road trip through Joshua Tree, where Olsen’s character owns a second home, leading to a party at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.
Trailer: Ingrid Goes West
7 Days in Hell (2015)
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert was among the primary filming locations for this mockumentary depicting a fictitious tennis match at Wimbledon. Andy Samberg and Kit Harington play the competing racket-slingers, and Serena Williams, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Jon Hamm, and Karen Gillan also appear. Palm Desert High School graduates Connor Berk and Cameron McDonald served as stand-ins for some of the tennis scenes, which were filmed on the grass courts at the resort.
Trailer: 7 Days in Hell
Welcome to Me (2014)
When Kristin Wiig’s kooky, Oprah-obsessed character wins the lottery, she stops taking medication for her borderline personality disorder, moves into Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and writes a $15 million check to fund her own talk show on location in Palm Desert. At a peak point in the movie, she suffers a nervous breakdown and walks naked through the casino, which remained open for business during filming — including that scene.
Trailer: Welcome to Me
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Liberace owned four homes in Palm Springs, and his mansion on North Via Monte Vista was among the backdrops used for this HBO film based on the tell-all autobiographical novel of the same name, written by Liberace’s lover of six years, Scott Thorson. Michael Douglas transforms as Liberace, while Matt Damon portrays Thorson. In addition to the historic home, featured landmarks include Palm Springs City Hall and Our Lady of Solitude Church, where Liberace’s real-life funeral was held.
Trailer: Behind the Candelabra
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