The “Clueless” Guide to Occidental CollegeAug 4th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
While it is well-known among location aficionados that Occidental College masked as Bronson Alcott High School in Clueless, an in-depth guide to the exact areas of the campus that appeared in the flick has never been published. So, with some help from Mike, from MovieShotsLA, Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, and a reader named Rebecca who grew up in Eagle Rock and knows Oxy like the back of her hand, I set out to do just that.
A map of the Occidental College campus is pictured below. I will be using the same numbering key provided on the map to identify the areas and buildings featured in Clueless. So without further ado, I present to you the Clueless guide to Occidental College (in order of appearance)!
1. Bronson Alcott High School Exterior – The south side of Occidental’s Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15) masqueraded as the front of Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and the gang’s Beverly Hills-area high school.
The building, which was designed by Myron Hunt, is shown repeatedly throughout Clueless and should also be recognizable to Beverly Hills, 90210 fans as the exterior of the Condor’s Nest at CU.
2. Walkway – The esplanade that Cher and her friends are often seen strolling along (and where the movie’s infamous “As if!” moment took place) is Oxy’s Central Quadrangle (#126).
The Quadrangle, which is situated directly south of the Johnson Student Center, served as the hangout of Bronson Alcott’s various cliques, including the TV station group, the Persian Mafia and the Crew.
The eastern portion of the Quad, in front of Occidental’s Johnson Hall/Alumni Auditorium (#2), is where Cher offered her father’s “sucky Italian roast” to Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) . . .
. . . and where he later shared it with Miss Geist (Twink Caplan).
3. Athletic Field – It is on Oxy’s Patterson Field (#101) that Cher convinces her P.E. teacher, Ms. Stoeger (Julie Brown – yes, that Julie Brown), to raise her grade from a C to an B.
The field has changed a bit since filming took place, but it still very recognizable.
4. Mr. Hall’s Pathway – The walkway leading to the south side of Occidental’s Booth Music and Speech Center (#14), which looks quite a bit different today, is where Cher observed Mr. Hall and came to the conclusion that he was in need of a “good, healthy boink fest.”
5. The Teachers’ Lounge – According to an Oxy employee that Owen contacted, the faculty lounge where Cher tried to decide which teacher to set Mr. Hall up with (and coveted a Snickers bar) was one of the Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15) dining rooms. Unfortunately, the interior of the student center was largely gutted and remodeled in 1998 and then again in 2013 and the vast majority of it looks completely different today. I am not sure if the dining room that appeared in Clueless was renovated or if it currently remains in its onscreen state. Here’s hoping!
6. The Main Office – This location was the saddest discovery of all. According to Rebecca, Bronson Alcott’s main office was the former Student Activities Office at the Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15), which prior to the 1998 remodel was known as the Freeman Student Union. The space was gutted during the initial renovation and no longer exists. You can see photographs of what the interior of the structure currently looks like here.
7. Cafeteria Exterior – The eastern side of the Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15) served as the outside of the Bronson Alcott cafeteria.
That portion of the building looks a bit different today than it did in Clueless due to the fact that stairs and a wheelchair ramp have since been added to the exterior, I am guessing to comply with ADA regulations.
The cafeteria doors look the same for the most part . . .
. . . aside from said staircase and ramp addition.
Had to do it!
8. Parking Lot – Mr. Hall and Miss Geist shared their first kiss in the Admission and Visitor Parking (#43), in between the Admissions Office – Collins House (#19) and Newcomb Hall (#18). Miss Geist is parked in front of Newcomb Hall in the scene.
And Cher and Dionne are standing in the middle of the parking lot, with the Admission Office – Collins House visible behind them.
Again, had to do it!
9. Tennis Courts – Oxy’s McKinnon Family Tennis Center (#107) is where Dionne (Stacey Dash) refuses to participate in a P.E. lesson because her tennis instructor “would prefer if I didn’t expose myself to any training that might derail his teachings.”
The courts are also where Cher and Dionne first meet Tai (Brittany Murphy) and decide to befriend her despite the fact that their “stock” might “plummet.”
10. Cafeteria Interior – The exact location of the interior of the Bronson Alcott cafeteria, where Tai and Travis Birkenstock (Breckin Meyer) first locked eyes, is a spot that I am unsure of. Thanks to the carved columns, paned windows and brown doors visible in the background of the scene, I can say with certainty that it is (or was) somewhere on the Occidental campus. My guess is that it was once located inside of the Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15), but was dismantled during the 1998 remodel.
11. The Grassy Knoll – The spot where Travis and his fellow Loadies (who “no respectable girl actually dates”) hang out is along the western side of the Samuelson Campus Pavilion/Tiger Cooler (#16).
12. The Fountain Photo Shoot – Cher’s impromptu photo shoot with the gang took place in the courtyard of the Booth Music and Speech Center (#14).
Again, had to do it!
13. Josh’s Girlfriend’s Dorm – Occidental was not solely used to stand in for Bronson Alcott High School in Clueless – a campus building also masqueraded as the dorm where Josh’s (Paul Rudd) girlfriend, Heather (Susan Mohun), lived. The structure featured in that scene was Oxy’s Weingart Center for the Liberal Arts (#17).
In reality, the building is not a dorm, but instead houses an art gallery, art studio and classrooms.
14. Girls’ Locker Room – The locker room where Tai laments the fact that her feelings are not reciprocated by Elton (Jeremy Sisto) can be found inside of the Rush Gymnasium (#8). You can see a real life photograph of the locker room that was used in the movie here.
15. Art Museum – Oxy’s Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center (#1) masked as the art museum featured in the montage scene in which Cher decides that she wants to make over her soul. (The outfit Cher wore in that scene is one of my favorites from the entire movie.)
In real life, the building, which sits at the center of the Occidental campus, houses administrative offices.
It was the structure’s glass lobby that stood in for the museum in Clueless. In reality, there are no sculptures on display in that area.
16. Cher’s Pismo Beach Disaster Relief Booth – Cher and Dionne encouraged fellow students to sign up for the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief Team on the lawn located at the southeast corner of the Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union (#15).
17. Pismo Beach Food Collection Drive – Last, but not least is another location I am unsure of. Toward the end of Clueless, Travis donated some unusual kitchenware to the Pismo Beach Food Collection Drive which took place in some sort of conference/meeting room. Thanks to its paned windows and the foliage and architecture visible in the background, I am certain that the room is (or, again, was) located on the Occidental campus. Unfortunately, I have been unable to pinpoint exactly where, though. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
And that’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!