Top 10 Movies about New Orleans

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Top 10 Movies about New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana is a popular movie location for many Hollywood films earning Louisiana the new reputation as “Hollywood South.”  Filmmakers have used NOLA as a backdrop for epic novels penned here, stories of the blues and jazz music that originated here, the final destination on a road trip, and for its historic 19th century buildings and cemeteries that add an air of mystery.

From Bourbon Street to to Mardi Gras, here is a list of the Top 10 (make that 15) New Orleans movies.

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Based on Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Streetcar Named Desire is set in post World War II New Orleans where Tennessee Williams himself lived.

Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) is a fragile and neurotic woman on a desperate prowl for someplace in the world to call her own after being exiled from her hometown for seducing a seventeen-year-old boy. She goes to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley (Marlon Brando).  Blanche tells a tale of financial woes claiming that the family plantation, Belle Reve, has fallen to financial ruin. Stanley is suspicious that his wife’s share and his own under Louisiana Napoleonic code (where what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband) is being swindled out from under them.  Stanley and Blanche continue to face off as tensions grow. When Mitch,  a card-playing buddy of Stanley’s, arrives on the scene, Blanche begins to see a way out of her predicament until relentless Stanley intervenes leading Blanche to madness.

Memorable highlights: Who could forget the sweaty Brando screaming “Stella!”  New Orleans holds an annual literary festival with a STELLA yelling contest for the best Brando impression.

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Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin star in the romantic thriller The Big Easy, a box office hit that captivated audiences with its saucy blend of New Orleans nightlife, steamy romance and sultry suspense.

When a hood’s murder triggers a bloody gangland drug war, detective Remy McSain (Quaid) is on the scene. He’s a smooth-talkin’ cop who fits right in with the easy style of Cajun country. Remy meets his match in Anne Osborne (Barkin) a no-nonsense Assistant District Attorney in town to investigate police corruption. At odds from the moment they meet, their electrically charged attraction keeps the sparks flying.

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Interview with a Vampire movie is the spellbinding adaptation of Anne Rice’s (“Queen of the Damned,” “Exit to Eden”) bestselling horror novel.  Anne Rice was born and lives in New Orleans.

When an ambitious reporter agrees to interview a man who claims to have been a vampire since the 18th century, he hears a hypnotic, shocking, violent, moving and erotically charged tale, detailing what it was like existing for the past two-hundred years as one of the living dead.

The cast is stacked including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kristen Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater; and Thandie Newton.

Filming Locations: Lafayette Cemetery and a beautiful horse ride down the front drive of Oak Alley Plantation.

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Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett star in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story of the life and loves of a man experiencing his life backwards — The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

Benjamin Button (Pitt), is born as an 80-year-old man in New Orleans just after World War I and proceeds to grow younger as time passes. Button, who like any other man is unable to stop time, experiences life and his love for Daisy (Blanchett) oddly out of synch with the rest of humanity in this time traveler’s tale of the people and places Benjamin Button encounters, the loves he loses and finds, the joys of life and the sadness of death, and what lasts beyond time.

Notes: Director David Fincher decided against the original short story’s location of Baltimore and opted for New Orleans at Brad Pitt’s appeal for post-Katrina support.

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Music’s greatest legends re-enact the birth of jazz in this song-filled tribute to the town where it all began: New Orleans

Arturo de Cordova stars as Nick, the proprietor of a Bourbon Street gambling joint, and artistic haven for African-American musicians. When he falls for an opera-singing socialite, Nick realizes that only through music will he gain respectability, and launches a campaign to bring jazz to the highbrow American stage.

A refreshing rediscovery, New Orleans is especially noteworthy for its lack of racial stereotypes, as well as the high caliber of performances delivered by its stellar cast, including Louis Armstrong, Woody Herman, Kid Ory, Meade Lux Lewis and more.

Perhaps the film’s most memorable number is “Farewell to Storyville”, a haunting blues melody sung by Billie Holiday as she leads a procession of black musicians exiled from the city — a sequence that beautifully captures the melancholy and grace of Holiday’s inimitable performance style.

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King Creole – Elvis Presley… Jailhouse Rock… New Orleans!

Elvis plays a teenager named Danny Fisher, who is forced to drop out of school to help support his ineffective father (Dean Jagger). Drawn to trouble like a magnet, Danny is saved from a jail term by New Orleans saloon-keeper Charlie Le Grand (Paul Stewart), who gives the boy a job as a singer. It isn’t long, however, before local gang boss Maxie Fields (Walter Matthau), a shadowy figure from Danny’s criminal past, puts the muscle on the boy, insisting that Danny sing at his establishment.

To lure Danny to his side of the fence, Maxie relies upon the seductive charms of his gun moll Ronnie (Carolyn Jones), while Danny’s true love Nellie (Dolores Hart) suffers on the sidelines.

In addition to the expected musical numbers (which are cleverly integrated into the storyline), the film’s highlight is a brief exchange of fisticuffs between Elvis and Walter Matthau. Together with Jailhouse Rock, King Creole is one of the best filmed examples of the untamed, pre-army Elvis Presley. The picture was adapted from Harold Robbins’ novel A Stone for Danny Fisher.

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12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and based on Solomon Northup’s astonishing true story, is the winner of three 2013 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o).

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a real person with a wife and children doing well as a talented musician living in New York in 1841. He is tricked into being kidnapped, and then is chained, beaten, broken down, re-named (now called “Platt”), transported and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Northrup is one of the very few people to have escaped this terrible plight and, eventually, return to his home and family.

This story is primarily about those 12 years a slave from the book Northup later wrote detailing the transition from free man to slave, the shocking living conditions and treatment of slaves in the south, and his own ordeal in the hands of three slave owners within a system of institutionalized captivity and abuse. His account provides a rare and incredible historic insight and an unflinching story of hope.

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Easy Rider reveals the  uncensored ’60s counterculture in this compelling mixture of drugs, sex and armchair politics.

In the role that catapulted him to stardom, Jack Nicholson portrays an alcoholic attorney who hooks up with two part-time, drug-dealing motorcyclists (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) in search of their “American Dream.”

Heading from California to New Orleans, they sample the highs and lows of America the beautiful in a stoned-out quest for life’s true meaning. They arrive in New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras with scenes in the Lafayette Cemetery.

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Suddenly, Last Summer stars Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn each of whom received the 1960 Oscar nomination for Best Actress in this gripping adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play set in 1930’s New Orleans.

Beautiful Catherine Holly (Elizabeth Taylor) is committed to a mental institution after witnessing the horrible death of her cousin at the hands of cannibals. Catherine’s aunt, Violet Venable (Katharine Hepburn), tries to influence Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift), a young neurosurgeon, to surgically end Catherine’s haunting hallucinations. By utilizing injections of sodium pentothal, Dr. Cukrowicz discovers that Catherine’s delusions are, in fact, true. He then must confront Violet about her own involvement in her son’s violent death.

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JFK is Academy Award-winner Oliver Stone’s highly acclaimed and Academy Award-winning docudrama chronicles New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – controversially putting to the test some of the incredible details of the official “single assassin” and “magic bullet” explanations that have quietly plagued the nation for decades.

Academy Award-winning superstar Kevin Costner heads a tremendous all-star cast, with the real Garrison in an ironic cameo as future Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, of the government’s infamous Warren Commission.

Who can stop at the Top 10 New Orleans Movies
when the following are still on the list>>>>

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The Cincinnati Kid is set in 1930’s New Orleans.

Oscar-nominees and Golden Globe-winners Steve McQueen and Ann-Margret  star in this suspenseful drama about a young hotshot who travels to New Orleans to compete against the greatest poker player in the country.

In Pelican Brief, the John Grisham novel of the same name is brought to the movies. Academy Award-winner Julia Roberts finds herself embroiled in a terrifying web of intrigue extending to the highest levels of government after she writes a speculative legal brief exposing the illegal activities of a powerful oil magnate. When those close to her are killed by assassins, the young woman embarks on a desperate flight with a Washington, D.C., investigative reporter (Academy Award and Golden Globe-winner Denzel Washington) her only confidant and ally.

Film Locations: Several scenes are shot around New Orleans. A key scene is filmed in Spanish Plaza near Riverwalk.

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Runaway Jury is another John Grisham novel made into a movie starring John Cusack and Rachel Weisz. I will pretty much watch any movie either of these two are in, so this was a two-fer!

When a young widow in New Orleans brings a civil suit against the powerful corporate consortium she holds responsible for her husband’s murder, she sets in motion a multi-million dollar case. It’s a suit that may be won even before it begins however, based solely on the selection, manipulation, and ultimately, the attempted “theft” of the jury.

With lives and millions of dollars at stake, the fixer plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a jury member (John Cusack) and a mysterious woman (Rachel Weisz) who offer to “deliver” the verdict to the highest bidder. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman stars as idealistic prosecutor Wendell Rohr, and Gene Hackman takes on the role of ruthless jury consultant Rankin Fitch. Packed with danger, intrigue and pulse-pounding twists and turns, Runaway Jury and basically any John Cusack film rules!

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Double Jeopardy delivers lots of action and spine-tingling suspense from start to finish.  Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones star in this thriller with the movie ending in New Orleans with several memorable scenes.

Judd plays Libby Parsons, who discovers that the husband she’s convicted of murdering staged his own “death” and framed her for the crime. Released on parole, she skips town to find him–and that puts parole officer Travis Lehman (Jones) on her trail.

Filming Locations: Lafayette Cemetery & Maison De Ville, 727 Rue Toulouse.

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In Blaze, Academy Award® winner Paul Newman plays the real-life, fiery, eccentric Louisiana governor Earl Long who falls head over heels in love with the dazzling Blaze Starr (sensational Lolita Davidovich), an innocent New Orleans stripper with a heart of gold.

Forced to choose between the office he holds and the woman he loves, he chooses both…igniting an outrageous scandal full of trouble, tenderness, and sexy high-spirited fun!

The tour guides in Baton Rouge told me about this movie and its quite an insight into the flamboyant governor’s of Louisiana from that era.

TV Shows

This HBO drama series that takes place during the rebuilding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Treme is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, an important center of African American and Creole culture, especially music.  Season One begins three months after Katrina’s devastation and highlights the role of the city in the interconnected personal stories of the musicians, teachers, restauranteurs, radio deejays, and community leaders who reside there.

I spent a month in New Orleans in early 2015 and the city was still abuzz about the four seasons of Treme as it was a good represenation of this complex city.

NCIS: New Orleans is a drama about the local field office that investigates criminal cases affecting military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence.

Documentary

Though the reputation of pre-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans was one of parties and parades, this documentary exposes the dark underbelly at the city’s core.

With extreme poverty, drugs, crime, guns and one of the highest murder rates in the country, life in the inner city of the Big Easy is anything but.

This revealing exposé features interviews with hip-hop stars and New Orleans natives: Juvenile, Sqad Up and B.G.

Inspired to visit the New Orleans?

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