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

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

This film had to be number one. It just had to be. This is one of the rare instances when a film adaptation is just as good as its book counterpart. I’m sure that had a lot to do with author Stephen Chbosky directing the film and writing the screenplay about introvert freshman Charlie (played with understated intensity by Logan Lerman) being welcomed into the real world by two seniors, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson).

I’ve spent hours going over this film, frame by frame, trying to figure out filming locations. I’ve scoured the Internet. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time clicking along on Google Maps’ street view trying to find the homes used in the film.

And I honestly don’t know why.

I could chalk it up to my love for Pittsburgh on film or my love for the story of outcast Charlie getting out of his shell and making some of the best friends possible. Maybe some part of me believes that if I can find the places where this story was filmed, I can become a part of the story; I can become one of Charlie’s friends and help him through the rough patches of his life.  Maybe it’s because when I first saw it, I was with some of my favorite people in the world at a time in my life when I felt infinite.  Whatever the reason, it will remain not only one of my favorite Pittsburgh-filmed movies but also one of my favorite movies of all time for probably the rest of my life.

If you haven’t seen it, just watch this scene.  Yes, it’s the end of the film, but it’s just perfect.  The emotion behind Lerman’s wavering voice-over.  Michael Brook‘s minimalist score under the scene, pulsing with the possibilities of life. Charlie gaining the courage to stand up and literally let go of all the trauma in his past.  The almost newborn-like screams from Patrick and Sam as the Fort Pitt Tunnel births them. And then our city appears just as David Bowie kicks in.


I hope I never forget what it’s like to be sixteen.


What’s your favorite Pittsburgh-filmed movie? Are my choices completely awful?  Sound off in the comments below!




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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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