PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh never will be confused with Hollywood when it comes to movie productions, but dozens of films have been shot in and around the city over the years. Some have been cheesy, some have gone on to win Oscars.
But which ones are the coolest?
By coolest, we mean both in terms of quality and showing off what we know to be one of America’s most attractive cities. (That definition automatically disqualifies “The Deer Hunter,” which largely was shot in Weirton and – gag – Cleveland).
What follows is Patch’s highly subjective list top-10 list Feel free to praise it, condemn it or add to it in the comments section. After all, not everyone has the same taste in movies.
10. Flashdance (1983)
OK, geographically it made no sense. People take the Duquesne Incline up to go down to the South Side flats. The plot is equally unbelievable: Jennifer Beals stars as a gorgeous young woman who works in a steel mill during the day and dances at a bar at night while waiting for the end of the movie, when she gets accepted into a prestigious dance conservatory. But the film features the legendary late Pittsburgh police officer Vic Cianca, whose real-life moves while directing traffic Downtown rivaled anything a Hollywood choreographer could concoct.
9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
It’s widely considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made and it spawned an entire genre of zombie movies and TV shows (“The Walking Dead,”anyone?). But what Patch likes most about it is that it contains probably the most photogenic scenes of the Evans City Cemetery in Butler County ever committed to celluloid.
8. Dawn of the Dead, (1978)
It took a decade for the late filmmaker George Romero to make a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead,” but it was well worth waiting for. This gruesome zombie movie also served as a satirical look at mindless consumerism and the vast majority of the film was shot in Monroeville Mall. As you might imagine, the mall looks vastly different today and seldom do the undead walk its corridors.
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
This low-budget sleeper is a high-quality tearjerker about, well, a dying girl. But don’t cry too much while watching it or you’ll miss some great scenes of the city. Much of it was shot in the old Schenley High School in Oakland, as well as Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Polish Hill and Braddock.
6. Sudden Death (1995)
Sure, this fast-paced action thriller has explosions inside the long-gone Civic Arena and a central plot element is the Penguins facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals. But it would make the Patch list for one reason alone: the scene shown here in which Jean-Claude Van Damme BEATS THE STUFFING out of a villain disguised as the Pens’ mascot Iceburgh.
5. Jack Reacher (2012)
It didn’t exactly rise to “Mission Impossible” thrills. But this Tom Cruise action flick counts among its locations the Stanwix Tower Apartments, Mario’s South Side Saloon, the North Shore riverfront walk, the former Sewickley Country Inn and the Armstrong Tunnel. We’d call that pretty cool.
4. Striking Distance (1993)
So much of this Bruce Willis-Sarah Jessica Parker boat murder thingy was set on the city’s three rivers that its working title during filming was, you guessed it, “Three Rivers.” The movie also spotlights Point State Park, Mt. Washington and Monongahela.
3. Adventureland (2009)
Almost all of this Jesse Eisenberg romantic comedy was filmed at Kennywood. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
What fun! Heinz Field was transformed into Gotham Stadium, where multiple explosions occurred as former Steelers great Hines Ward ran back a kickoff for a touchdown. Here we go Gotham, here we go! Downtown streets also are featured, as is the Carnegie Institute and Carnegie Mellon University Software Science Institute, both in Oakland.
1. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
How could this not top the list? This creepy film didn’t just win a ton of Academy Awards– among them, best picture; best actor, Anthony Hopkins; best actress, Jodie Foster and best director, Jonathan Demme. It also featured the Allegheny County Courthouse, the county jail, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland and the since-demolished Western Center in Canonsburg.