While Oklahoma is not exactly the movie capital of the world, there have been some fairly significant films made entirely or at least in part within the state. From the more famous such as the small Oklahoma towns in Twister to the relatively obscure like the OSU Student Union's appearance in a campy thriller, these are the best.
1. Rain Man
- Won Best Actor and Best Picture Oscars.
tells the story of Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic savant whose brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) "kidnaps" him because their father has left Raymond the family fortune. It's a humorous and touching road trip in a Buick Roadmaster as the two form an unlikely bond.
Watch for the streets of Guthrie when Raymond is taken to a clinic doctor as well as El Reno's Big 8 Motel that "plays" an Amarillo motel in the film.
2. The Outsiders
makes the cut over Oklahoma-native S.E. Hinton's other novel turned Francis Ford Coppola film, Rumble Fish
. It's the story of rival gangs, "Greasers" and "Socs," in 1963 Tulsa. Two young boys are on the run after killing a rival in self defense.
Watch for Tulsa's Admiral Twin Drive-In as well as extensive scenes filmed throughout Tulsa including downtown and Tulsa Regional Medical Center.
It's no cinematic masterpiece, but this disaster pic with Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton may be the quintessential Oklahoma film because of the state's prominence in the story. Written by Michael Crichton, the movie about tornado trackers was a box office success.
Watch for the small town of Wakita, Oklahoma where "Aunt Meg" lives, and the University of Oklahoma's Owen Field hides itself well as the site of a destroyed house through which the characters drive.
4. Near Dark
I'll undoubtedly get e-mails about this one. This horror movie about a group of traveling vampires is not exactly an award-winner. In fact, it's rather silly and yet brutal all at the same time. Nevertheless, the Bill Paxton flick has become somewhat of a cult classic.
It's a bit hard to tell you what to watch for here, though, as the majority of the filming was done on Oklahoma roads and rural locations. Can you pick out any Oklahoma locales?
5. Far and Away
Another Tom Cruise movie filmed partially in Oklahoma, Far and Away
co-starred Nicole Kidman and was directed by Ron Howard. It was supposed to be the kind of big budget epic that takes home Oscars. Unfortunately, the story of romance during the Oklahoma Land Run received mixed reviews.
Most of the movie was not filmed in Oklahoma. Even the Land Run was shot in Montana, but the Oklahoma Film Commission says there were portions filmed in our state.
This John Travolta with super powers tear-jerker seems to be a love-it or hate-it kind of a movie. After seeing a strange light, car mechanic George Malley (Travolta) suddenly becomes very intelligent, even possessing telekinesis. Everyone wants to know the reason for his change, but George wants to court Jace (Kyra Sedgwick), a single mother new to town.
Watch for various areas in and around Tulsa, one of 10 filming locations for the movie.
The most recent of the bunch, this Cameron Crowe romantic dramedy largely disappointed critics. Orlando Bloom is a desperate young man who returns to his Kentucky hometown after his father passes away. Falling in love with a flight attendent (Kirsten Dunst), though, can cure many ills.
Watch for the Cherokee Trading Post in El Reno and the Oklahoma City skyline as a backdrop. Guthrie also appears briefly before the OKC National Memorial.
8. The Frighteners
Another critical disappointment, The Frighteners
was directed by Peter Jackson who would go on to make the Lord of the Rings
trilogy and King Kong
. Starring Michael J. Fox, the comedy-horror tells the story of a psychic who finds himself in a mystery when small town inhabitants begin dying mysteriously.
Filmed mostly in New Zealand, Tulsa is the only US location in which the movie filmed, but identifying the scenes is certainly difficult.
By vote of the people
, I'm removing the independent film of questionable quality, Keys to Tulsa
, and replacing it with this early 70's gangster favorite about the notorious John Dillinger.
Starring Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss and more, Dillinger
was filmed entirely in Oklahoma, with scenes shot in Enid, Nash and OKC. OKC's old Midwest Theatre on Harvey (demolished in 1976) served as a Chicago stand-in, and scenes were also shot at the Skirvin Hotel (now renovated).
10. All-American Murder
This one makes the list for purely sentimental reasons. This campy B thriller directed by Anson Williams (Potsie from The Happy Days
) stars Christopher Walken and utilizes the campus of my alma mater, Oklahoma State, prominently. In all honesty, it's simply not a good movie.
Watch for the burning body being thrown off the balcony of Oklahoma State's Student Union. Many of the campus house scenes were filmed on the streets around the University of Tulsa campus.