Even if you've never been to Pittsburgh, you've probably seen plenty of local landmarks on the silver screen. From Emma Watson, standing in the bed of a pickup as it drives through the Fort Pitt Tunnel in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" -- the inadvisable nature of which feat the Post-Gazette has already explored in detail -- to mobs of zombies lurching their way through the Monroeville Mall in "Dawn of the Dead," the Pittsburgh area has appeared in a lot of important movies over the years.
"Flashdance," in 1983, showcased people and places, from the Stroh's clock and Smithfield Street Bridge to Carnegie Music Hall which factored into the big audition scene at the end and romantic finale.
For some, however, watching the movie isn't enough. So, with this in mind, the Pittsburgh Film Office, an entity created in 1990 to attract film, television and commercial projects to the region, is planning to start offering tours of the most famous local places to appear on-screen sometime in the spring. In the meantime, here's a list of 10 of the office's most asked about film locations.
In chronological order:
"Night of the Living Dead" 1968
Location: Evans City Cemetery.
Appearance in movie: Turns up at 1 minute and 50 second mark.
Carnegie Mellon University graduate George A. Romero's zombie flick is a critically acclaimed classic of the horror genre. The film was shot in and around the small town of Evans City, Butler County, about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. The opening sequence, wherein a brother and sister are attacked by one of the undead while visiting their father's grave, was shot at the Evans City Cemetery.
Can you visit? Yes. While the farmhouse where leading man Ben (Duane Jones) and company take refuge from the zombie plague is no longer standing, the nearby cemetery is still open to the public. Head out of Evans City south on Franklin Road to get there. Make sure you learn your lines in advance: "They're coming to get you, Barbra."
"The Silence of the Lambs" 1991
Location: Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum's Grand Ballroom.
Appearance in movie: 1:04:45.
Perhaps the most critically acclaimed film to be shot partially in Pittsburgh, the movie won five Academy Awards. It chronicles the efforts of Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an FBI trainee charged with convincing the imprisoned serial murderer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to help determine the identity of another killer, Bufallo Bill (Ted Levine), in time to save his next victim.
Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum appears in the second half of the film under the guise of a Tennessee courthouse, where Lecter is held after speaking with a U.S. senator whose daughter has been kidnapped by Bill.
Lecter is kept in a caged cell in the building's Grand Ballroom, from which he attempts a spectacular, brutal escape. The ballroom is also the site of the powerful conversation between Starling and Lecter that provides the film with its title.
Can you visit? Yes. The museum and memorial honoring American servicemen and women, at 4141 Fifth Ave. in North Oakland, is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 5 to 13 years of age or senior citizens 60 or older.
"Lorenzo's Oil" 1993
Location: Heinz Chapel.
Appearance in movie: 11:50.
This medical drama is based on the real-life story of Augusto Odone (played here by Nick Nolte) and his wife Michaela (Susan Sarandon), who embark on a quest for a cure when their son, Lorenzo, is diagnosed with ALD, a rare and at the time untreatable genetic disorder that attacks a person's neurologic functioning, resulting in physical debilitation and eventually death.
While the movie was shot throughout the Pittsburgh area, perhaps the most noteworthy Pittsburgh moment comes in the film's first act, when an emotional Augusto and Michaela attend a nighttime Mass in Heinz Chapel, as they await their son's diagnosis.
Can you visit? Yes. Heinz Chapel still stands just east of the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus, near the intersection of Bellefield and Fifth avenues. The Chapel is open to the public Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
"Striking Distance" 1993
Locations: Elizabeth Bridge; Point State Park.
Appearance in movie: 16:07 and 56:45.
Bruce Willis stars in this mystery crime story as Detective Tom Hardy, a cop trying to find the killer of his father. Filmed in Pittsburgh, it stars watery and land-locked locations.
Jimmy (Robert Pastorelli) threatens to kill himself while Tom Hardy tries to convince him to do otherwise. To Detective Hardy's surprise, Jimmy jumps off the Elizabeth Bridge and into the Monongahela River.
Later in the film, the Policemen's Ball is held in Point State Park. The park is decorated with clothed tables, fluorescent lights and the fountain in the background to top off the picturesque scene.
The beauty doesn't last long though as a brawl ends up breaking out between Tom Hardy and his relatives.
You can also look for a big action sequence shot on Second Avenue, Downtown.
Can you visit? Yes.
In fact, there has never been a better time to see Point State Park now that its signature fountain reopened after being closed from 2009-13 for reconstruction.
It's a regular stop on the summer tour, from the Three Rivers Arts Festival to the Regatta.
Location: Building at 130 Larimer Ave. sold to Everlasting Covenant Church in 1997.
Appearance in movie: 1:40:53.
This religious comedy is about an abortion clinic worker, Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), who must save humanity from the two rogue angels Loki and Bartelby (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) intent on destroying humankind.
The onetime SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church had long been closed, the parish merged and the structure sold to Everlasting Covenant Church when the movie was filmed there. Services were halted after multiple break-ins, thefts, vandalism and other damage.
The structure makes its appearance in the final fight scene of the movie. The cathedral is decorated in dead bodies, blood and debris caused by the two angels. Not to ruin the ending, but there are plenty of special effects and comedic dialogue to make the ending of this religious parody very climactic.
Can you visit? No, although efforts are underway to renovate the historic landmark.
"Inspector Gadget" 1999
Locations: PPG Place and Sixth Street Bridge.
Appearance in movie: 56:53 and 1:04:10.
Disney's adaptation of the cartoon about a humanoid-robotic cop solving mysteries was loaded with plenty of special effects. With Matthew Broderick playing the inspector and Rupert Everett as the arch-nemesis Sanford Scolex, this movie is full of action-packed scenes shot in Pittsburgh.
PPG Place serves as the headquarters of Scolex Industries where Inspector Gadget and his clone are made, as well as the final scene where Scolex is thwarted by Gadget. The Sixth Street Bridge serves as the final battle scene between Gadget and his evil clone Robo Gadget.
Can you visit? Although there is no Scolex statue in the fountain at PPG Place, it still serves as a social hub in Pittsburgh where many retail and holiday events are held.
The Sixth Street Bridge has been renamed after Pittsburgh Pirate great Roberto Clemente. The bridge is still a major vein into Downtown Pittsburgh, and drivers on the bridge are sure to not see robotic men battling each other.
"Wonder Boys" 2000
Locations: Carnegie Mellon University campus, various others.
Appearance in movie: Throughout.
Curtis Hanson's quirky dramedy finds Michael Douglas, a novelist and fiction writing professor at an unnamed Pittsburgh university, struggling to complete the follow-up to his acclaimed first novel, while simultaneously juggling his duties mentoring a troubled young student (Tobey Maguire) with his own tumultuous personal life.
Filmed throughout the Pittsburgh area, "Wonder Boys" opens in a classroom in Baker Hall on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Oakland.
Soon Mr. Douglas' Professor Grady Tripp is driving past the Cathedral of Learning en route to the Pittsburgh International Airport. Tripp's house is in nearby Friendship.
Can you visit? Of course. While there are innumerable locations to see, one might best appreciate the film's melancholy academic feel with a visit to the CMU campus, just a couple of miles east of Downtown, on a gray day this fall or winter.
"She's Out of My League" 2010
Location: Market Square.
Appearance in movie: 28:48.
The romantic comedy was directed by Jim Field Smith. It is about the timid Kirk (played by Jay Baruchel), a TSA agent who catches the eye of the beautiful Molly (Alice Eve).
It transforms Market Square into a lovely outdoor restaurant with lights, tents and the whole romantic atmosphere. During this scene Kirk is on a date with Molly for the first time. The two enjoy awkward small talk and, to make matters more comedic, Kirk is mistaken for a waiter when Molly's ex-boyfriend Cam (Geoff Stults) interrupts their dinner.
The film also makes it seem as though Market Square is about a mile wide as the two lovers take a nighttime stroll after dinner. In reality they're probably actually walking in circles, Market Square is but a four-block plaza. The famous Primanti Bros. also makes a cameo appearance in the movie as Kirk and Molly sit down on a bench to have a sweet conversation.
Can you visit? While Market Square itself isn't a classy, five-star restaurant, it does have restaurants around it and is host to a lot of nighttime entertainment. It would still be a great place for a date.
Location: PNC Park.
Appearance in movie: 1:23:11.
This action-packed flick stars Taylor Lautner as the orphaned hero, Nathan, who is the son of slain secret agents. Filmed in Pennsylvannia, the final climactic scenes of the movie take place at PNC Park. Nathan (Mr. Lautner) is going to a Pirates game to settle the score with Nikola Kozlow (Michael Nyqvist).
The Roberto Clemente statue is even used as a prop by Nathan and the bad guys. Clad in a Pirates shirt and running all around PNC Park, Nathan deflects gunshots and even slides down a glass roof. Not to ruin the end of the movie, but it involves a sharp-shooter.
Can you visit? While PNC Park does not have gun-toting teenagers running about, it does have a family-friendly atmosphere. The illegal ticket transaction performed by Mr. Lautner and Mr. Nygvist is obviously not allowed, but Pirates fans are able to order tickets at http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/pit/ballpark/index.jsp.
"The Dark Knight Rises" 2012
Locations: Heinz Field and the Mellon Institute.
Appearance in movie: 1:27:30, 2:11:00.
In his summer blockbuster, director Christopher Nolan used a number of cities to create the comic book dystopia of Gotham City -- Pittsburgh was one of them. The most memorable of the scenes filmed here features sweeping shots of Heinz Field, the setting for a "Gotham City Rogues" football game, as supervillain Bane's (Tom Hardy) nefarious plot to take over the city begins to unfold.
Pittsburgh Steelers, past and present, turn up for cameos, including retired wide receiver Hines Ward, whose kick return becomes a sprint for his life as explosions sink the playing surface moments after kickoff.
Later, Batman (Christian Bale) fights Bane on the steps of the Mellon Institute in Oakland, which stands in for Gotham City Hall.
Can you visit? Yes. While you'll have to pay a sizable sum to watch the Steelers in action, walking tours of Heinz Field are available through Nov. 1, at $7 for adults and $5 for students, children under 19 and senior citizens aged 55 and up. See www.steelers.com. For those interested in reenacting the climactic Batman-Bane showdown, the Mellon Institute is east of downtown at the intersection of Fifth and Bellefield avenues.
Lee Purvey and Amir Vera are former Post-Gazette interns. First Published September 1, 2013 4:00 AM