Movies Filmed Here
Big movies shot in Central Virginia
The 2007 summer comedy Evan Almighty might be the most recent occasion when Hollywood has come knocking on our door, but it's hardly the first. Check out all the cinematic history (some parts of it more forgettable than others) that dots our landscape.
Virginia - (1941) - Starring Fred MacMurray, best known as the dad in My Three Sons, this melodrama was set at Monticola, a Howardsville-area mansion. Here, we find a southern belle who must choose between impoverished southerner Stonewall Elliot (MacMurray) and– egads– a Yankee industrialist.
Giant - (1956) - Texas rancher Rock Hudson visits a Maryland farm to buy a horse. What he finds is the owner's daughter, the lovely Elizabeth Taylor. It happened at Belmont, a cushy Keswick-area farm that plays a big part in what would turn out to be the final film in the short career of James Dean.
The Four Seasons - (1981) - Alan Alda and Carol Burnett headline this "romantic" comedy with extensive shooting at Pantops, which was owned at the time by the Worrell publishing family. It's now home to the Kluge-Ruhe Museum of Aboriginal Art. Nominated for four Golden Globes.
Mutants in Paradise - (1984) - This film seems to have started and ended the career of its writer/director Scott Apostoulo. "This film makes Attack of the Killer Tomatoes look like Citizen Kane," writes one IMDB reviewer. It does, however, feature the film debut of boxing's former Lightweight Champion of the World, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
Morgan Stewart's Coming Home - (1987) - This dull (directed by Alan Smithee) knock-off of Ferris Bueller's Day Off takes place in Washington, D.C., but is actually filmed in Charlottesville. Whatever it lacks in artistic quality, it may be worth finding in the bargain bin because it probably shows more local scenes and extras than all the other pictures on this list.
Toy Soldiers - (1991) - Albemarle County's own Miller School plays "The Regis School," an academy of misfits and rebels shunned from America's elite prep schools who put their bad behavior to use when terrorists take the school hostage. Cinema's two greatest drill seargents Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) and R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) share screen time with the boy who would be Sam in Lord of the Rings, Sean Astin.
True Colors - (1991) - John Cusack and James Spader play two UVA Law students who pour booze on themselves at Macadoo's and go dancing at Trax. Even the Hook (which didn't exist then) has a tangential role. Our delivery driver lent his yellow Volvo to a scene filmed outside Trax.
A Kiss Before Dying - (1991) - Matt Dillon, Sean Young, and an ordinary house near the Korner restaurant served as key elements in this critically panned psycho killer story.
Sommersby - (1993) - They poured dirt on the streets of Lexington for this post-Bellum drama starring Richard Gere and Jodie Foster.
Major Payne - (1995) - After a critically acclaimed performance in Toy Soldiers, Miller School gets cast again, this time as the home of a JROTC program under the direction of hard-boiled Marine Benson Payne (Damon Wayans). Live grenades plus cute kids equals hilarity!
Hush - (1998) - The working title was Kilronan, the screen name given to Rocklands, the Orange County spread then operating as an inn (now a private residence). This dud of a film stars an up-and-coming actress named Gwyneth Paltrow playing daughter to abusive mom played by former local Jessica Lange.
Mickey - (2004) - Written and financed by John Grisham and partially shot at his Cove Creek Park baseball complex in Covesville, this boy-and-his-dad baseball picture was directed by another prominent Albemarlean: Hugh Wilson, the creator of WKRP in Cincinnati. Alas, despite starring Harry Connick Jr. and opening in about a dozen southern cities, it went quietly to DVD shelves.
War of the Worlds - (2005) - Supposedly set in New England, but they can't fool us. The spotlight shines once again on Lexington in one of this Tom Cruise blockbuster's most dramatic scenes.
Swedish Auto - (2006) - Western Albemarle/UVA grad Derek Sieg wrote and directed this tale of a voyeuristic mechanic, most of which was filmed on West Main. Stars January Jones before her Mad Men acclaim, Lukas Haas, and Mel's.
Live from the Hook - (2006) - The definitive documentary on the Charlottesville music scene of the '80s follows local legends Bob Girard of Johnny Sportcoat and Charlie Pastorfield of Skip Castro Band, and is a who's who of musicians then– Indecision– and now– Dave Matthews Band.
Evan Almighty - (2007) - Directed by UVA alum Tom Shadyac, this sequel to the Jim Carrey vehicle Bruce Almighty reprises Steve Carell's role as a weatherman who gets the call from God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark. Shooting in Crozet's Old Trail neighborhood wrapped in June 2006, and included a menagerie of animals, a 200-foot-long ark, and plenty of locals appearing as extras. That its nationwide reception was tepid didn't dim the enthusiasm of locals.
Food, Inc - (2009) - Local farmer Joel Salatin was included in this documentary about the dangers of corporate farming in the U.S. While Salatin and his farming techinques and philosophies were well-known in Central Virginia, the Shenandoah-based farmer raised the bar and helped to spread the idea of the local food movement to the masses.
World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements - (2010) - Following Charlottesville teacher John Hunter, this documentary explores the transformation of students into citizens. Hunter's students participated in the "World Peace Game," which stimulates political, economic, and social challenges and allows the students an opportunity to witness and create global interconnectedness. The film, directed by UVA grad Chris Farina, premiered at the South-By-Southwest festival.
The Parking Lot Movie - (2010) - "It's not just a parking lot. It's a battle with humanity." Strong words for a documentary about Charlottesville's Corner Parking lot. But the film, shot and produced in three years, meshes drunken or unruly parkers with larger themes of awareness, justice, and community. Directed and produced by UVA grad Mehan Eckman and Christopher Hlad, the film has garnered rave reviews and premiered at the South-By-Southwest festival.