Pittsburgh Stories and Tips

Pittsburgh and the Movies

Since 1904, Pittsburgh has been the location for over 150 feature films, TV shows and industrial movies. So a trip to the Burgh can also include a tour of famous and not-so-famous movie sites. In the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, the glass towers of PPG Place served as the scene of the climax for Disney's INSPECTOR GADGET. Only a couple of blocks away is the Allegheny County Jail, H.H. Richardson's classic 19th-century landmark and where Mel Gibson with a little help from Diane Keaton escaped in 1984's MRS. SOFFEL.

A short walk from there is the Mellon Arena, home to the NHL Penguins and where security guard Jean-Claude Van Damme saved the life of the Vice-President in the almost forgettable SUDDEN DEATH. This sports venue with its retractable roof was also the location for 1979's candidate for worst film, THE FISH THAT SAVED PITTSBURGH. Neither the film nor its subject, professional basketball, has been seen here since.

Nowhere in Pittsburgh are you far from its three rivers: the Ohio, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, all of which starred with river cop Bruce Willis in STRIKING DISTANCE.

Visit soon if you want to see sites from the 1987 hit ROBOCOP in which Pittsburgh's empty steel mills stood-in for the industrial wasteland of Detroit. Why the producers couldn't find enough empty mills in Detroit for a hundred movies is beyond me. Nevertheless, many of the sites for the movie have been cleanup and transformed into parks and upscale housing.

In WONDERBOYS the entire city is spotlighted, especially the campus of Carnegie Mellon University and many of the city's 2000 bridges. Also in the same area as CMU is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History where some of the more gruesome murders in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS were filmed.

And no visit to Pittsburgh would be complete without a visit to suburban Monroeville whose shopping mall was the scene for the zombie classic DAWN OF THE DEAD.

Finally, revealing the locations for such films as BLOODSUCKING PHARAOHS IN PITTSBURGH, INNOCENT BLOOD (also known as FRENCH VAMPIRE IN AMERICA) or SANTA CLAWS might be evidence that I actually watched these films. But regardless of your taste in films or favorite genre, a visit to Pittsburgh can also be a fun and inexpensive movie tour.

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