Hey, that building looks familiar.
Are those red rocks the Red Rocks, in Sedona?
OK, that's definitely the Grand Canyon.
Arizona isn't exactly Hollywood Jr., but you might be surprised at how many movies, many of them well-known ones, were filmed in the state. Think of it: Without going too far, you can set a scene in a desert, by a lake or, in the winter, in the snow. Even if a movie isn't set here, we can double for just about anywhere.
The following movies are remarkably diverse in nature, but share this description: made in Arizona.
'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' (1989) | Still standing as Keanu Reeves' most convincing film role, this comedy is about a pair of SoCal kids who climb aboard a phone-booth time machine so they can pass high-school history and change the world. Though set in San Dimas, Calif., the film was shot in and around Coronado High School in Scottsdale, along with Phoenix's Metrocenter mall and Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
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'Bisbee '17' (2018) | Robert Greene’s innovative documentary delves into a strike in the Arizona town in 1917 that resulted in residents being shipped out by boxcars. The documentary takes place in 2017, while the city underwent plans for a centennial celebration. Like any good documentary, it's about more than the initial subject. With scenes shot all over Bisbee, obviously. How to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime.
'Bus Stop' (1956) | William Inge's Broadway play inspired this comedy-drama about a virginal rodeo rider (Don Murray) who falls for a nightclub singer (Marilyn Monroe, in arguably her best performance). The state fairgrounds are instantly recognizable on-screen. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Eight Legged Freaks' (2002) | Most abandoned shopping malls in America's 'burbs face an ignominious end, crumbling and derelict and haunted by broken dreams. Not so with Glendale's Valley West Mall, which died a righteous Viking death before demolition and served as a battleground for David Arquette to square off against a horde of spiders made giant by toxic waste in the fictional mining town of Prosperity, Ariz. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'A Fire in the Sky' (1978) | Sure, it was a TV movie, but this NBC flick created a huge stir in the Valley at the time. The plot: A comet is hurtling toward Phoenix, eventually leveling downtown — the Hyatt Regency topples, for instance, through some nifty special effects. Richard Crenna headlines, but watch for local media types like Pat McMahon and Bill Heywood in minor roles. Not to be confused with "Fire in the Sky," a 1993 movie about an extraterrestrial encounter ... also set in Arizona! How to watch: Not available to stream.
'The Gauntlet' (1977) | Clint Eastwood, who also directed, pokes fun at his tough-cop image, playing an average sort of officer who must escort a prostitute (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas to Phoenix, where she is to testify in a mob trial. Shot on location, in Las Vegas and Phoenix. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'The Grifters' (1990) | Stephen Frears' dark crime drama stars John Cusack as a con man torn between his mom (Anjelica Huston) and his girlfriend (Annette Bening), both of whom manage to be even more untrustworthy than he is. The old Phoenix City Hall stands in for a police station. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Planet of the Apes' (1968) | Charlton Heston and his crew crash land on what is supposed to be a strange land in the far future, but it doesn't look all that strange to Arizonans — his spacecraft plunges into Lake Powell. The classic sci-fi film used a number of northern Arizona locations, including Glen Canyon and spots near Page, to realize a dystopian future in which apes have become the dominant species. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Jerry Maguire' (1996) | "Show me the money!" And show me Sun Devil Stadium. Arizona State University's football stadium was then the playing field of the Arizona Cardinals, for whom Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) plays. Tom Cruise stars as a sports agent in the midst of a professional crisis trying to secure Tidwell a lucrative contract with the Cardinals in this winning Cameron Crowe comedy. How to watch: Stream on Netflix.
'Just One of the Guys' (1985) | A budding high-school journalist (Joyce Hyser) goes undercover as a boy in an effort to win a newspaper internship. Hey, it was the '80s! Filming locations included Coronado High School, Big Surf and various spots around the Valley. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'The Kingdom' (2007) | If you've ever thought certain stretches along the 101 looks like Saudi Arabia, well, evidently they do. At least enough that the area filled in for the country in this war drama, about U.S. agents investigating the bombing of an American housing compound. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'Little Miss Sunshine' (2006) | Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin star in a bittersweet road comedy about a nerdy girl determined to win a junior beauty pageant. The film was shot largely in Arizona as the family journeys from New Mexico to California in a wheezing VW bus and makes ironical use of a sign reading "Carefree Highway." How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'Midnight Run' (1988) | Sorely underrated comedy with Robert De Niro as a bounty hunter who must transport former mob accountant Charles Grodin across the country to claim his reward. It's laugh-out-loud funny; De Niro and Grodin have a great, unexpected chemistry. Big chunks were filmed all over Arizona, including in Flagstaff, Globe, Cottonwood and the Upper Salt River Canyon. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'Mixed Company' (1974) | Sweet-natured, if largely forgotten, this focused on an Anglo couple (Barbara Harris and Joseph Bologna) with two children who adopt three kids from different ethnic backgrounds. Did we mention that Bologna's character is the coach of the Phoenix Suns? That explains what Al McCoy is doing in the cast. Shooting locations included Veterans Memorial Coliseum, then the team's home. How to watch: Stream on Amazon Prime.
'Night of the Lepus' (1972) | There's silly, and then there's giant-rabbit silly. An attempt to rid an Arizona ranch of rabbits turns the animals into savage beasts, courtesy of a scientific method gone wrong. With Janet Leigh. And to think, she was in "Psycho." How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Nightkill' (1980) | With "Charlie's Angels" still in full swing, Jaclyn Smith moonlighted in this twisty thriller as the wife of a corrupt businessman (Mike Connors). Filmed at Camelback Mountain, the flick also features Robert Mitchum and James Franciscus. How to watch: Not available to stream.
'Noelle' (2019) | Anna Kendrick plays the daughter of Santa Claus, whose brother (Bill Hader) inherits their father's gig, but runs off to Phoenix to hide when the pressure proves too much for him to handle. Some scenes were shot at a local mall, there's a bit at the Desert Botanical Garden and a kid wears an ASU T-shirt one day and a Phoenix Suns T-shirt the next. How to watch: Stream on Disney+.
'Psycho' (1960) | Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece famously opens with a shot of downtown Phoenix before zooming in on the hotel in which characters played by Janet Leigh and a shirtless John Gavin are fooling around. A few scenes later, of course, we all know what happens to poor Janet. Needlessly remade in 1998 by Gus Van Sant. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Raising Arizona' (1987) | The funniest Joel and Ethan Coen movie (sorry, "The Big Lebowski" fans) was shot in the state for which it's named and of which it makes loving fun against familiar backdrops of the Superstition Mountains, Camelback Mountain and Sun Devil Stadium. Desperate to become parents, career criminal H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) and the police officer who loves him, Ed (Holly Hunter), kidnap one of the "Arizona Quints," toddler sons of famous local furniture magnate Nathan Arizona. Asked why he changed his surname to Arizona, Nathan answers, "Would you shop at a store called Unpainted Huffheins?" No, sir, we would not. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'Raising Buchanan' (2020) | Rene Auberjonois is by far the best thing about this film, in which a desperate woman (Amanda Melby) steals the body of former President James Buchanan (Auberjonois), hoping to sell it for ransom. Things don't go as planned. There are recognizable shots from all around the East Valley, and some scenes were filmed in Prescott. How to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube.
'Revenge of the Nerds' (1984) | University of Arizona alums will recognize scenery from their alma mater, including Bear Down Gym, the Cochise Hall dorm and Greek Row. The campus comedy, about social outcasts uniting in their own fraternity, starred Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Timothy Busfield and John Goodman. How to watch: Stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime.
'Starman' (1984) | Meteor Crater, the kilometer-wide remains of a 50,000-year-old impact, is the end of the line for an alien who has temporarily taken on the form of Jeff Bridges to make contact with the human race. In this gentle romance directed by John Carpenter, the E.T. has used a dead man's DNA to make the body, a confusing turn of events for his widow (Karen Allen). How to watch: Rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube.
'A Star is Born' (1976) | More than 45,000 music fans turned out at Arizona State University to see Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson film scenes for this remake of the familiar story. Peter Frampton headlined the actual concert, which also featured Santana and Montrose (none of them appears in the film). Streisand came out in the middle and sang five songs; she also fired up the crowd by dropping a couple of f-bombs. Other sequences were filmed at Gammage Auditorium. After "Rocky," this was the highest-grossing film released in 1976. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Star Trek: First Contact' (1996) | In this "Next Generation" feature, one of the most entertaining installments in the sci-fi franchise, Tucson's Titan Missile Museum stands in for the rocket silo that launches warp-drive inventor Zephram Cochrane (James Cromwell of "Babe" fame) into the history books — with a little help from a time-traveling Capt. Picard, Commander Riker and drunken Counselor Troi. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Three Kings' (1999) | The desert outside Casa Grande stands in for the sands of Iraq in this satire starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube. A smart and biting film by David O. Russell, who would earn even more fame and acclaim with "The Fighter," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle." How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime; stream on Cinemax.
'3:10 to Yuma' (1957) | Forget the 2007 remake, which was largely shot in New Mexico. The original was shot all over Arizona, including in Old Tucson and Elgin, and is one of the great Westerns, a pulse-pounding film about a desperate rancher charged with escorting a dangerous criminal to Contention City to catch a train — the 3:10 to Yuma — and see him off to the Yuma jail. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Thelma & Louise' (1991) | Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis take a tour of the Southwest in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird, on the lam from the law after shooting a man who tried to assault them. Their flight from the Man leads to an unexpected ending and one of the most instantly iconic movie scenes in history, with our sympathetic heroines taking a leap into the abyss — the Grand Canyon. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime; stream on Vudu and Tubi.
'Tombstone' (1993) | It's not the best or the brightest Western, but it is one of the most entertaining. Kurt Russell stars as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc "I'm your huckleberry" Holliday dramatizing, with great artistic license, the events surrounding 1881's famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, re-creating the Old West silver-mining boomtown at Old Tucson Studios. How to stream: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Transamerica' (2005) | Felicity Huffman, best known for "Desperate Housewives" (and even better in Aaron Sorkin's "Sports Night"), gives a fearless, career-redefining turn as a transgender woman named Bree on a road trip with her estranged son. Filmed largely in Arizona, with a crucial stop at Bree's parents' house that uses Phoenix as the quintessential generic, middle-of-the-road American city, but not necessarily in a bad way. Trivia fodder: co-written by William H. Macy, Huffman's hubby (Stephen Colbert refers to the celebrity couple as "Filliam F. Muffman). How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Transformers: The Last Night' (2017) | This entry in the deathless Michael Bay franchise shot a chase scene on Loop 303 between Interstate 17 and Lake Pleasant Parkway. There are also some scenes shot in a West-side junkyard. It's not a definitive look at the state, but it's something. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'U2: Rattle and Hum' (1988) | If U2 wasn't the biggest band in the world when this movie was made, they were well within spitting distance. The film follows the band on its 1987 tour, supporting "The Joshua Tree" album. Among the stops: Sun Devil Stadium. Cheap tickets ensured a sellout, though the band wasn't having much trouble on that front. How to watch: Not available to stream.
'Used Cars' (1980) | Robert Zemeckis, who would go on to make movies like the "Back to the Future" trilogy and "Forrest Gump," co-wrote and directed this agreeably insane film about a car salesman (Kurt Russell) trying to keep the brother of a rival lot from taking over. Especially nice: Al Lewis, best known as Grandpa Munster, in a small role. Surprisingly funny. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
'Waiting to Exhale' (1995) | Terry McMillan's best-seller about female friendship came to the screen featuring a cast headed by Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston and a great title song, "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," performed by Houston. Equally great: The movie is virtually a time capsule of Phoenix in the mid '90s, displaying such locations as Biltmore Fashion Park, the Hermosa Inn, First Congregational United Church of Christ, the Arizona Supreme Court building and the gone-but-not-forgotten Jockey Club, a nightclub at Central Avenue and Camelback Road that catered to African-Americans. A Sweet Tomatoes now occupies the latter spot, which doesn't seem as sweet. How to watch: Stream on Hulu.
'Vacation' (1983) | Chevy Chase takes his family across the country to visit Wally World, a Disneyland-like theme park. Disaster, much of it hilarious, ensues. Along the way they stop by, among other places, the Grand Canyon. Nothing can substitute for that. Based on John Hughes' "National Lampoon" short story, which is one of the funniest articles ever written. How to watch: Rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon Prime.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: These movies were made in Arizona. Here's how to watch them