President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visits Laguna Beach, 1938 (courtesy the First American Corporation)

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visits Laguna Beach, 1938 (courtesy the First American Corporation)


There is a growing amount of historical film and video footage of Orange County out there on the internet – as well as plenty of modern footage that will someday be viewed as historic. Some are old home movies, others are promotional films, and there are a few short theatrical films as well. Here are links to some interesting local films, dating back to the 1920s: 

“Know Your Own Country” (circa 1925)

Includes aerial footage along the Orange County coast as well as scenes of Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach


Orange County Armistice Day Parade (1931)

Filmed on North Main Street in Santa Ana


60th Anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Santa Ana (1931)

Includes scenes of downtown Santa Ana, the church, and its members


Sunset Club Outing to Orange County (1939)

Includes the members playing horseshoes at the Bolsa Chica Gun Club and sailing on Newport Bay – in color


Dana Point home movies (1930s)

Also includes scenes of fishing off the Newport Pier, and Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1933 while parts of it were still in ruins


Flood scenes in Anaheim (1938)


Flood scenes in Atwood (1938)


Flood scenes and Franklin Delano Roosevelt motorcade through Laguna Beach (1938)

Artist Frank Cuprien is seen presenting FDR a painting


Hurricane on the Orange County coast (1939)

With good narration; mostly shot at the mouth of Newport Bay (the old timers usually called this the chubasco, as these storms were called in Baja California)


Home movies of Laguna Beach (1939)


“Along El Camino Real” (circa 1952)

A promotional film produced by the California Mission Trails Association; includes a nice Orange County segment featuring Laguna Beach, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Newport Bay, and Knott’s Berry Farm (about 4:45 to about 6:20); the opening shot is from the Portolá Pilgrimage of 1948


“Citrus – The Golden Fruit” (1960)

A promotional film – not actually Orange County, but some nice color footage including packing house operations (both oranges and lemons); much of it seems to have been filmed in Ventura County


Another citrus documentary (1935)

Includes footage from the Fresno area

“Road Runners” (1952)

A short theatrical film about the drag races at the Orange County Airport; the opening scenes were shot in downtown Santa Ana


“Rossmoor Leisure World – A New Way of Life” (1965)

Hosted by Harry Babbitt; also includes shots of Leisure World in Laguna Hills (now the City of Laguna Woods)


Another Rossmoor Leisure World promotional film (1963)

The Leisure World Historical Society has posted a wealth of older videos from their community


Mission Viejo promotional film (1967)


Another Mission Viejo promotional film (late 1960s)


Driving the I-5 from Orange to Oceanside (1960s)


Laguna Beach (1974)

Driving along the Coast Highway


Surfing at Corona del Mar (1938)

Just inside the jetties was a popular surfing spot in the early days


Surfing Dana Point (1963-68)

Starts with the drive there; includes the old bay and pier before the harbor was built


Newport Beach (late 1950s)

Aerials of the bay, the Balboa Fun Zone, sailing and fishing, and the Balboa Pavilion


“Dirty Feet” (1965)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Bob Sarber, who posted this film, describes it as a “folk/surf-genre film;” it was filmed in and around the old Prison of Socrates night club in Balboa and stars Tim Morgan, a popular performer there


Huntington Beach (late 1940s)

Both on the beach and in the oil fields


Oil well in Huntington Beach (1956)


Huntington Beach House Party and Fourth of July Parade (circa 1965)


Orange County and Mission San Juan Capistrano (1959)


El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Air Show (1987)


El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (1962)

Home movies of the base housing area


Fullerton parade (1973 or ’74)


Inside the Fender guitar factory in Fullerton (1950s)


Disneyland construction (1954-55)


Opening Day at Disneyland (July 1955)

This is the famous television broadcast from the preview opening, the day before the park opened to the public


Disneyland (1955)

And these are home movies


Disneyland (1963)

Nice home movies, but no Knott’s Berry Farm (despite what the title says)


“Ghost Town” (1948)

Knott’s Berry Farm’s first promotional film


“A Family Builds A Mountain” (1960)

Actually it was Bud Hurlbut who built the Calico Mountain Mine Ride


“Come and Get It” (circa 1960)

Inside the Chicken Dinner Restaurant


“Knott’s Berry Farm Photo Album” (1965)


“America’s Amazing Fun Farm” (1970)


Knott’s Berry Farm promotional video (1984)

Plenty of the stunt show, Fiesta Village, Independence Hall, and what’s most unusual, the mobile home Walter Knott lived in the last few years of his life


Knott’s Berry Farm (1955, 1958)

Home movies, including a glimpse of Old McDonald’s Farm and the seal pool


Knott’s Berry Farm (1960)

Home movies, including scenes in the Lagoon area across Grand Avenue, but mostly the car rides, such as Henry’s Livery


Japanese Deer Park (circa 1970)

Another Buena Park attraction; there is a surprising amount of footage of these parks on Youtube, though not all of it is from Orange County.


Lion Country Safari (1970s)

Includes their first big star, Frasier the Sensuous Lion


More Lion Country Safari home movies (1970s)

Again, there’s more than one Lion Country Safari, so not all the footage on Youtube is from Irvine


All-Star Game at Angel Stadium (1967)


Angels win the American League West title (1979)


Football - Anaheim High vs Orange High (1955)

Anaheim High School Football Films has posted a great many more Anaheim High game films from the 1960s and ‘70s


Football - Servite Catholic High vs Mater Dei Catholic High (1961)

The OC Sports Place has posed many more early game films, including a little basketball as well


Boy Scout National Jamboree (1953)

Held on the Irvine Ranch, in the Corona del Mar/Newport Center area


Orange County – a video tour (1987)


“The Story of Orange County” (1989)

Includes a some historic footage; produced by KOCE for the Orange County Centennial (with links to all the episodes)