Iconic movies worth a second (or third) look

Still plenty of time on your hands? Looking for new movie recommendations? Why not catch up on classic films set in the USA and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of North America. Here’s our pick of iconic movies showing brilliant destinations – worth exploring next time you travel.

True Grit - Ouray, Colorado

True Grit is the John Wayne classic about a young girl seeking to avenge her father’s death. Much of the movie was filmed in Ouray in southwest Colorado. San Juan Mountains provided an epic backdrop to many of the outdoor scenes. Nowadays, movie memorabilia is on show at the True Grit Café in Ridgway. 

Top Gun - San Diego, California 

Watch hunk Tom Cruise on Amazon Prime whilst soaking up the sights of San Diego. Top Gun follows the story of Navy pilot Maverick, a role which originally launched Tom Cruise into mega-stardom. The film was set in San Diego and was filmed in the city - one of the most memorable scenes took place at Kansas City Barbeque in downtown San Diego, where Maverick and Goose play 'Great Balls of Fire' on the piano. Other filming locations include Point Loma and Bankers Hill.

Purple Rain, Minneapolis

The 1984 classic ‘Purple Rain’ featured the iconic Minneapolis rock club First Avenue & 7th Street Entry as the setting for a story about the young upstart performer Prince. Since 1970, First Avenue has been integral to the Twin Cities' vibrant music scene, regularly showcasing a vast array of live music. Throughout the years it has played host to homegrown acts, like the late Prince, The Replacements and Atmosphere, to national headliners like The White Stripes, Public Enemy and The Ramones. Since Prince's death in 2016, his star on the exterior of the building has been painted gold. Memorabilia from the film is on display at Prince's former residence and studio Paisley Park, now a museum. Other scenes, notably the one featuring Lake Minnetonka, were shot south of the Twin Cities near Henderson, where there's now a purple mural and bench in Prince's honour.

Rocky - Philadelphia
One of the most recognisable Philadelphia-based films, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1977, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky profiles underdog boxer Rocky Balboa as he trains his way towards a bout against champion boxer Apollo Creed. Undeniably the most iconic moment from the film is Rocky’s training montage that takes him throughout the city – passing through the Italian Market, running by the Delaware River Waterfront, along the Schuylkill River Trail, and eventually up the 72 steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Rocky’s home is at 1818 Tusculum Street and Adrian’s Restaurant from the Creed films at 1303 Dickinson Street, which is the current home of the Jazz-centric Victor Café. Mighty Mick’s Boxing Gym can still be found at 2147 North Front Street.  For more remote moments virtual travellers can follow the #VisitFromHome and #PhillyFromHome hashtags on Twitter.   

[Photo caption: Rocky at the top of the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Andrea David @filmtourismus]

Speed - Los Angeles

Did you know Speed won two Academy Awards? Jan de Bont's directorial debut stars Keanu Reeves as an LAPD SWAT officer and Sandra Bullock as a passenger on a bus rigged to explode by a mad bomber, played with gusto by Dennis Hopper. The movie takes viewers on a high octane tour of the city of Los Angeles. De Bont ratchets up the tension as Reeves and the LAPD match wits with Hopper. The top-notch action sequences include the freeway jump using a real bus - not CGI - and a fight on the Metro Red Line.

Mystic Pizza - Connecticut, New England

Get a tour round some of the prettiest towns in Connecticut in classic movie Mystic Pizza, starring Julia Roberts movie of the same name. The pizzeria that features in the film exists, serving customers “a slice of heaven”. Most of the movie’s scenes were filmed in the town of Stonington, as well as locations in Mystic, Groton and New Haven. The beauty of Connecticut is also shown in Revolutionary Road, a film that reunited Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The movie is shot in Connecticut towns including Fairfield’s Sasco Beach, Trumbull, Beacon Falls, Bethel, Darien, Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Shelton and Southport.

Steel Magnolia - Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana, is home to the hit movie Steel Magnolias. The film starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field and Dolly Parton was written and filmed in the Louisiana town before smashing the U.S box office upon its release in 1989. Last year saw the film reach its pearl anniversary and in celebration the movie returned to cinema theatres up and down the U.S and UK.  As well as this, Natchitoches CVB have been sharing the Steel Magnolias tour for fans of the blockbuster. Enthusiasts can discover the locations of 17 of the scenes in the film including the St. Augustine Catholic Church and the Tauzin Plantation Home.

The Blues Brothers - Chicago

When Belushi’s character is released from prison in this wacky musical adventure, he’s actually being released from Old Joliet Prison in Illinois. Downtown Chicago cameos also take place across the South East Side, West Van Buren Street, Jackson Park, West Addison Street and more. Keep an eye out for this year’s Blues Brothers’ 40th anniversary event in August 2020 at Old Joliet Prison.

Forrest Gump - locations across the USA

Forrest Gump is more cultural touchstone than movie. The film raked in more than $677 million domestically, won six Oscars (including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor) and has been shown on cable seemingly on loop for 20 years. And for good reason. Forrest journeys from his Alabama home to the Vietnam War to Washington, DC to New York City to the Bayou and back home again. Encompassing a litany of historical events and an unforgettable soundtrack, Forrest Gump is a cinematic voyage like none other.

Posted on: 01/07/2020

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