Hollywood of the East: A Top Ten List of Pittsburgh-filmed Movies

8. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Richard Gere stars in this adaptation of John A. Keel’s book of the same name about a man who starts receiving messages from an otherworldly being. I didn’t remember much about this movie except for the fact that it filmed at a motel not far from the small town in which I went to high school. That’s a pretty big deal for a town that probably has more cows than people. In addition to the aforementioned motel, it also features the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and the recently reopened Mellon Square Park, all subbing in for Chicago.

I re-watched it for the purposes of this post and was very impressed with the way it was filmed. It felt mostly like a music video, but in a good way. That’s not surprising given the fact that director Mark Pellington has previously directed music videos for INXS, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and The Fray. Mothman had the potential to be a great psychological thriller, but it sadly falls flat. It doesn’t get anywhere near the psychological horrors of movies like A Tale of Two Sisters, La Casa Muda or its English-language counterpart Silent House just to name a few. And that’s sad, because if it had, Mothman could have been a fantastic film instead of just an average, mediocre one. It’s on this list though because every time I visit my hometown, I have to pass that motel and it makes me smile knowing that the little corner of the world in which I grew up has been forever immortalized on celluloid.


7. She’s Out of My League (2010)

Jay Baruchel stars as a ridiculously average guy who falls for the mega-attractive Alice Eve. He’s a 5 and she’s a 10, so they’ll never be together, right? Hooray for arbitrarily rating the worth of a person based on their attractiveness! Anyway, hilarity ensues as he tries to maintain the relationship. Spoiler alert: there’s a happy ending after a chase through Pittsburgh International Airport.

I remember that this film was touted as the funniest comedy since The Hangover. I guess that’s true, but I’ve always found humor to be incredibly subjective and I know that my humor levels are slightly out of whack. I grew up watching SNL with my parents and bizarre British comedy shows with my grandmother. This movie has a nice balance of raunch and romance that make it in enjoyable to watch, but I’m not sure if that’s because of the narrative or because it was filmed in Pittsburgh. Either way, the city looks great in this movie, so I’m not complaining. Market Square looks almost Parisian at night and there’s a scene on Mt. Washington where the city is bathed in the glow of the late-day sun. There are also scenes at Mellon Arena, The Andy Warhol Museum and Brillobox.  It’s actually a pretty Pittsburgh-y movie.


6. Groundhog Day (1993)

This classic film is on this list for several reasons. One, Bill Murray is awesome. Let’s just get that fact out of the way first. Two, the movie is named after my birthday. Three, this is the first time I can remember seeing Pittsburgh on film. I don’t remember how old I was, but I can remember thinking, “Holy cow! It’s Pittsburgh!” It was a surreal moment for me, seeing the real, tangible city of Pittsburgh intersecting with the fictional story of Murray’s weatherman traveling from that same, tangible city only to get stuck in a ten thousand year loop in Punxsutawney. I can’t be sure, but that first viewing may have been the germ of my fascination with Pittsburgh on film. So, if you’re ever bored with my musings and ramblings of Pittsburgh-filmed movies, blame Bill Murray.


Keep reading to see the top five!


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9 responses to “Hollywood of the East: A Top Ten List of Pittsburgh-filmed Movies

  1. Great choices, I think. (I have not seen most of them.) I totally agree with your opinion of Groundhog Day, Bill Murray and Christian Bale. I remember going to Pittsburgh as a kid in the 80’s and thinking it was beyond depressing, but in the early 2000’s, my husband and some friends made the trek there to the Strip for a Wilco show and loved the city! There was a cool burger place that put coolslaw and fries ON your burger, the bridges were newly refurbished, and the thin, hilly streets were amazing (in summer…winter? Woah.) Well, guess I have some movies to watch?

  2. Quuxum

    Not even a mention for “The Deer Hunter”?

  3. Innocent Blood, Striking Distance, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Wonder Boys and Sudden Death were all shot in Pittsburgh and take place there.

  4. Grew up in the ‘burgh. Loved your list. Guess I haven’t paid enough attention because I didn’t realize some of these movies were filmed there. Where’s the Flashdance mention? lol

    Have a great week!

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