10 Movies That Define Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh may not be America’s entertainment capital, but it has been the background for more than a few films. These 10 films came the closest to encapsulating the Western Pennsylvania experience, presented in chronological order.

1. Angels in the Outfield (1951)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Via corndogchats.blogspot.com

Director: Clarence Brown

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Guffy McGovern gains the assistance of a team of angelic all star baseball players to bring the Pirates out of the basement of the National League in exchange for better behavior from McGovern.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: Not Available

Starring: Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Market Square Productions / Via moviehousememories.com

Director: George A. Romero

This movie is the root of all zombie-based entertainment. The Living Dead series of films still draws people to western Pennsylvania to see the places where the films were made. There’s even a Zombie Museum located just outside of Pittsburgh in Evans City, Pennsylvania.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 96%

Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea and Karl Hardman

3. The Deer Hunter (1979)

EMI / Via dvdactive.com

Director: Michael Cimino

The Deer Hunter is one of those movies that should be required viewing for everyone. The film weaves together the story of a group of Russian steel workers from south of Pittsburgh as they live their lives at home and go off to face the Vietnam War.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 92%

Starring: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Savage, John Cazale, Meryl Streep and George Dzundza

4. Flashdance (1983)

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment / Via supertran.net

Director: Adrian Lyne

Alex Owens, welder by day and exotic dancer by night, represents the hopes and dreams of a generation of Pittsburghers that felt trapped by the mills and hoped to escape one day for something better.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 30%

Starring: Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri

5. Groundhog Day (1993)

Director: Harold Ramis

Groundhog Day is one of the weirdest traditions of Western Pennsylvania, and, despite an increasing number of municipalities across North America adding their own prognosticating marmots, Punxsutawney Phil is the king of the groundhogs. This movie is an important reason why our annual celebration of pulling a groundhog out of a stump is such a big deal.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 97%

Starring: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott

6. Apollo 13 (1995)

Imagine Entertainment / Via pteforums.com

Director: Ron Howard

This movie isn’t about Pittsburgh, and it wasn’t filmed in Pittsburgh. However, one small bit of dialog makes it worth including on this list.

Marilyn Lovell: Where’s their broadcast?
Henry Hurt: All the networks dumped us. One of them said we make going to the moon as exciting as taking a trip to Pittsburgh.

The movie takes place in 1970 and this little bit of banter perfectly encapsulates the Pittsburgh of the early 70s. Even today, Pittsburgh isn’t often considered a place to visit for fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 95%

Starring: Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris

7. Sudden Death (1995)

Universal Pictures / Via thesocietyforfilm.com

Director: Peter Hyams

When terrorists attack the Civic Arena during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, it’s up to Darren McCord (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to save the Vice President of the United States.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 52%

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Whittni Wright, Ross Malinger and Dorian Harewood.

Numerous hockey figures were also a part of the film including Jay Caufield, Jeff Jimerson, Mike Lange, Luc Robitaille, Paul Steigerwald, Markus Näslund, Bernie Nicholls and Ken Wregget

8. Wonder Boys (2000)

Paramount Pictures / Via movpins.com

Director: Curtis Hanson

Based on the novel by Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys tells the story of struggling writer and professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) as he navigates a divorce, an unexpected child, the theft of a jacket owned by Marilyn Monroe and writers block.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 81%

Starring: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes, Rip Torn and Robert Downey, Jr.

9. Adventureland (2009)

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment / Via longviewcurrent.org

Director: Greg Mottola

There’s a lot of subtle Pittsburgh nuance on display in this indie film that was shot at Kennywood Park — if only all Kennywood Staff were movie stars.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 88%

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Margarita Levieva, Ryan Reynolds, Martin Starr, Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Mr. Mudd / Via thebackroom.me

Director: Stephen Chbosky

When the original novel was released in 1999, every slightly awkward teenager from the Pittsburgh area found their literary voice. The movie, which is directed by the book’s author, builds upon that cultural fascination for a new generation of maligned suburbanites.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 85%

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller

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