Despite Reno being more than 465 miles away from Hollywood, the Biggest Little City and Northern Nevada have been home to some classic movies in cinema history. Here are seven of my favorites that have stood out through the ages, in no particular order.
Probably the most well-known movie shot in Reno dates back to 1996. Starring Randy Quaid and Woody Harrelson, Kingpin is a comedy that follows an Amish bowler and down-on-his-luck bowling coach vying for a $1 million dollar payday and bowling glory. With scenes that take place in the Silver Legacy and National Bowling Stadium, this is a fun one to revisit and compare how much Reno has changed more than two decades after its release. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%
Take a trip back to 1961 in this film starring the timeless Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Written by Arthur Miller, the film follows a recently divorced stripper who befriends a down-on-his-luck cowboy, and the plot thickens. With several scenes taking place in downtown Reno in the 60s along with some shots of Pyramid Lake, the most famous scene has Monroe filing for divorce paperwork at the Washoe County Courthouse and promptly tossing her wedding ring into the Truckee River downtown. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
I love Jim Henson, but this movie might strike a chord with some Northern Nevadans. Released in 2011, the Muppets find themselves in the Biggest Little City in search of Fozzy Bear. Fozzy has a new profession as a “washed up” comedian working at the Bonanza Casino. The film was shot in the actual casino but renamed it in the film. This movie doesn’t paint the BLC in the best light, but it's just a bunch of puppets. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
The Godfather Part II
One of the greatest films ever made, this movie starts and ends at the Corleones’ Lake Tahoe estate and is the final resting place for Fredo Corleone. This is one of the most famous mafia movies of all time and a Best Picture winner at the 1974 Academy Awards. Everyone should have The Godfather trilogy in their film library. It’s top 20 on my list of favorite movies. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
If you’re feeling the need for speed, look no further than this 1986 classic. Despite the Navy’s Top Gun program being based in San Diego, several of the aircraft sequences were filmed at the Naval Air Station in Fallon. Another cult classic that everyone should see at least once. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Top Gun Maverick
Scheduled to be released two days before Christmas 2020, I couldn’t be more excited to revisit the world of Top Gun. Tom Cruise returns to reprise his role as Maverick in this long awaited sequel. The film also stars Miles Teller, who told NSN at last year's American Century Championship this sequel will be bigger and more realistic than the first. In the trailer, you can see snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains and scenes shot at the Lake Tahoe Airport and Washoe Meadows State Park. Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Shot in the style of a Quinton Tarantino movie, Smoking Aces follows Jeremy Piven as Buddy “Aces” Israel, a small-time scammer who somehow managed to shiest big-time mobster Primo Sparazza. Upon the discovery that Buddy has incriminating evidence on Primo that could send him to jail for life, Buddy sets up in his Luxurious Lake Tahoe hideout. With scenes shot in the Horizon Hotel, now known as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, as well as the MontBleu, and with supporting cast members including Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Andy Garcia and Alicia Keys, Smoking Aces is worth at least once viewing despite its mediocre reviews. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Based on a true story, Wild follows Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon), who has fallen on hard times. Her marriage has come to an end and her mother just passed away. Cheryl has lost all hope and after years of reckless behavior and bad decisions, she decides to take to the Pacific Crest Trail to find solace and meaning in life. With no experience backpacking, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles on the PCT. There’s a scene about halfway through her journey where she takes a bus from Kennedy Meadows, around the mountains to Reno. You can see the arch. It’s only for a small portion of the movie, but I think this counts and it’s a great movie that should be seen at least once. The book is better, but when is it not? Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Julian Del Gaudio was once Nevada Sports Net's self-proclaimed Minister of Culture before losing that title in landslide fashion. But he knows about movies and will post a Film Friday review every week. You contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @JulianDelGaudio.