Back the early 1940s, Alfred Hitchcock arrived in Santa Rosa to shoot the movie that would become his personal favorite, Shadow of a Doubt (he once told his daughter that he loved “torturing” Santa Rosans). Sixty years later, when the infamous Coen brothers decided to make a Hitchcock-style noir thriller called The Man Who Wasn’t There–set in Santa Rosa of the 1940s–they ended up filming it . . . in Southern California. The city of Orange, to be precise, with a few scattered shots of Pasadena passing for Sonoma County.
So why didn’t they just film the thing in Santa Rosa? After all, it was good enough for Hitchcock.
According to Sonoma County Film Commissioner Catherine DePrima–who says she tried her darnedest to persuade the brothers C. to bring their project to Sonoma County–The Man Who Wasn’t There wasn’t made here because the area has changed dramatically from Hitchcock’s time.
“In the eyes of the producers,” DePrima elaborates, “Santa Rosa has become too contemporary.” Seems having a big, modern shopping mall smack in the middle of the Downtown Plaza was deemed un-40s-ish.
Thus the decision to film in Orange, a quaint little burg that, ironically, looks more like Santa Rosa than Santa Rosa itself.
From the November 8-14, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.