Big Lead Sports Bar


Pierogis: Top 10 Pittsburgh Movies

With the recent excitement of another movie being filmed in Pittsburgh (the upcoming Zack and Miri Make a Porno from Kevin Smith) and the famous comments of Sienna Miller during the 2006 shooting of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh still fresh in our minds, we decided to dedicate this week's top 10 list to movies filmed right here in the Burgh (or somewhere close). It's a little off the sports topics we usually cover, but a little pop culture never hurt anyone.

10. Deer Hunter

OK, I'm not going to lie, I've never actually "seen" this movie. However I do know that it won a gaggle of Academy Awards in 1978, was named as one of the 100 Greatest American Movies of all time, and starred the amazing Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. It's hard to go wrong with that combo. Throwback movies aren't usually our favorites, but it never hurts to respect your elders. Plus, Walken is the man. Period.

Who knew Bobby was a blood?

9. Robocop

Another old school movie at the bottom of the list, Robocop came out in 1987 and somehow ended up making $56 million, inspiring two more sequels and scoring nine Oscar nominations. This movie cost a paltry $13 million to make, and as you can tell, as the Robocop costume looks like something your mom made you for Halloween out of tin foil and cardboard boxes. Don't even get me started on the cheesy special effects. The funniest part about this movie is that it featured the least-scariest villain of all time: "Red" from That 70's Show. Man, that dude has been bald forever.

Rogaine didn't work for him

8. Sudden Death

The classics keep on coming here with the 1995 hockey classic/action flick Sudden Death, produced by former Penguin owner Howard Baldwin. Never again will Mellon/Civc Arena ever be featured so prominently in a Hollywood film. This starred Jean Claude Van Damme, Penguin announcers Mike Lange and Paul Steigerwald, players Jay Caufield and Luc Robitaille, and even the mascot Iceburgh (who gets to commit a felony - Go Pens!)

Gotta love the Van Damme movies, as there's always plenty of unintentional comedy that goes along with them. Plus, the 80's style kung fu or whatever it is he uses on his foes are the best martial arts this side of Stephen Segal.

The only terror in this movie is the acting

7. Kingpin

This Farrelly brothers about hustling people in bowling was an instant classic upon release in 1996. Pittsburgh was the stand-in for Scranton, Amish Country, and even Reno, Nevada. Woody "Legalize It" Harrelson plays pro bowler Roy Munson, the inspiration behind the term "Munson'd", which pretty much means getting screwed over. Randy Quaid plays an Amish bowler named Ismael and Bill Murray sticks in everyone's craw as the slimeball opponent who cost Munson his hand.

Kingpin has always managed to equally offend a wide variety of people, a staple of most Farrelly movies. Even pitching great/enemy of the state Roger Clemens makes a cameo as a redneck named Skidmark. I'm sure this was a real stretch for Roger.

I wouldn't mind Munsoning her if you know what I mean...

6. Striking Distance

Bruce Willis is one bad dude, and his filming of an action movie in the Burgh was pretty freakin' sweet. Unlike most films shot here in the city, this one was actually supposed to be Pittsburgh in the movie. In fact, its early title was Three Rivers.

Willis plays a butt-kicking river rescue cop who has a chip on his shoulder, which makes him wanna kick more butt, solve mysteries, and more unsolved murders in the Burgh. At his side was a pre-Sex in the City Sarah Jessica Parker. Professional lowlife Tom Sizemore had a supporting role, meaning monthly earnings for the girls working Liberty Avenue were up while this one was being filmed.

Hope they used a stunt double when he went in the Allegheny River.

5. Night of the Living Dead

This one was born and bred in Pittsburgh. The man who brought Night of the Living Dead to life, George Romero, went to CMU, and used a Pittsburgh based film company on the flick. He even got his start filming spots for Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. The 1968 mega-low budget picture is one of, if not the most well known zombie flick ever made, and brought forth a series of sequels and a couple remakes, including 1978's Dawn of the Dead, shot at Monroeville Mall. It's kinda funny to watch nowadays. but it is truly a classic in every sense.

They're coming for you...

4. Dogma

Kevin Smith's foray into the world of organized religion, Dogma was criticized by the Catholic Church for portraying God in a less then appropriate way - as a mute Alanis Morissette who likes to do cartwheels and make beeping noises. We're both Catholic and we thought it was hilarious (sorry, Pope). It's a great satire about the church, but we mostly like the stupid jokes and gratuitous violence. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck also star in this as angels who were banned from heaven and sent to Earth for all eternity as a punishment. George Carlin, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman and Linda Fiorentino round out this all-star cast.

Buddy Christ is the man!

3. Groundhog Day

Bill Murray stars as a TV weatherman from the Burgh who travels to Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day to see everyone's favorite rodent, Phil the Groundhog, predict the weather in this 1993 classic. The problem is, Groundhog Day keeps repeating itself over and over and over again, until Murray lives the day right and gets with Andie MacDowell (well played, old man).

It's kind of like the Pirates' seasons on a year-in and year-out basis, so it's fitting that its 1993 release has coincided with the 15 years of losing so nicely.

2. Hoffa

What's not to like about Jack Nicholson playing Jimmy Hoffa in a movie shot in Pittsburgh? This 1992 biography of the Teamsters president is a favorite of ours for two reasons: tons of violence and lots of swearing. I know, we're like 12 year olds. It was filmed all over Pittsburgh, but was actually set in Detroit. Who would have guessed that Pittsburgh would be a poor man's Detroit for the movie industry?

Nicholson steals the show, and the story follows him from his beginnings burning down businesses all the way to his disappearance. Add in a great supporting cast of Danny Devito and John C. Reilly, and you got yourself one helluva movie.

Where did you go, Jimmy Hoffa?

1. Silence of the Lambs

Academy Award winners Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins bring the story of psychologist/serial cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lector to life in this 1991 Best Picture Winner. This movie still sends chills down my spine 17 years later. It was one of the first horror movies I saw, which is probably is why I don't like them to this day. Much like Night of the Living Dead (and every other horror movie I know of), this movie spawned sequels and even a prequel. It's also one of the most "copied" or mocked movies of all time, with everyone from South Park to the Joe Dirt (another Snack favorite) using something from Lambs. If you've never seen it, make sure you check out the episode of South Park called Toilet Paper - it's a spoof of this and is one one of the funnier episodes in the series' history.

Honorable mention:

Inspector Gadget, Angels in the Outfield, Lorenzo's Oil, The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh, Milk Money, Flashdance, Screwed, The Mothman Prophecies, Wonder Boys, All the Right Moves, Stigmata, Rock Star.

Well, there's our list. Like always, feel free to tell us how we screwed this list up in the comments section, and until next time, remember to check out Pierogi's N'at for our opinions on any and everything.


Movies Made in Pittsburgh []

Movies filmed in and around Pittsburgh []

Pittsburgh Film Office

Sienna Miller Hates Pittsburgh [Mondesi's House]

List of films and television shows shot in Pittsburgh [Wikipedia]


Reggie Dunlop said...

How about Slap Shot? I represent the Flood City but part of it was filmed in the Burgh.

Unknown said...

Shame on you for not watching The Deer Hunter before writing this list. Watch it. I bet you'd rewrite the list. OK, enough scolding. For anyone who's never been to Pittsburgh and asks me what it's like there (I live in Boston now), I tell them to watch this movie. The characters are spot on.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Except pocket, that the movie takes place in a small western PA town outside of Pittsburgh and you never actually see Pittsburgh in the movie.

jar66su said...

can sinbad get some love for houseguest up in here?

TheStarterWife said...

Poor Diabolique. You should have been Sharon Stone's (near) homecoming.

(Hey, if you can count Deer Hunter, I can count Meadville.)

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

As my sister reminded me when I saw this article, Gung Ho (80s movie w/ Michael Keaton) was filmed in Beaver, PA in Beaver County, home of my uncle.

God, you don't realize how funny people not from Pittsburgh think a county named "Beaver" is.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

And by the way, I knew Stigmata was set in Pittsburgh, but I didn't know it was filmed there. That makes two controversial movies about Catholicism that were filmed in the 'burgh!

And I remember seeing some cheesey Sinbad movie called houseguest that was set in Sewickly, but once again not sure if it was actually filmed there.

LeeTunnel said...

Houseguest was in Sewickley, my cousin was an extra.

But what about Gung Ho!

TheStarterWife said...


I woke up this morning and realized that Reckless needs some love here. Same with All the Right Moves.

SteelerShark said...

Gotta give a nod to Innocent Blood ( ) ... some GREAT night-time shots of the city and the naked French vampire chick is pretty easy on the eyes... Directed by John Landis, too, so it has some Hollywood cred to it... All in all, it is amusingly bad, and sometimes that's good, right?

ts said...

Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock, Ill.