Top 10 New Orleans Movies

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 New Orleans movies.

Top 10 Movies about New Orleans

 


1 A Streetcar Named Desire A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

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.


2 The Big EasyThe Big Easy (1986)

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.


3Interview with a Vampire Interview With the Vampire’ (1994)

Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Tom Cruise, Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe-winner Brad Pitt and Golden Globe-nominee Kirsten Dunst are among the undead in this 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 powerhouse cast also includes Golden Globe and Emmy Award-nominee Antonio Banderas; Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-nominee Stephen Rea (“V for Vendetta,” “The Reaping”); Christian Slater; and Thandie Newton (“The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Crash”). Directed by Academy Award-winner Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game,” “The End of the Affair”), and produced by David Geffen (“Little Shop of Horrors,” “Personal Best”).

Filming Locations: Lafayette Cemetery and Oak Alley Plantation


4The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Brad Pitt and Academy Award winner 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. Director David Fincher brings this remarkable tale to the screen.

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.


5New Orleans New Orleans (1947)

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. Other musical highlights include Holiday’s rendition of “New Orleans”, Armstrong’s “Endie” and “Where The Blues Were Born”, and their duet “The Blues Are Brewin”. Also included in this DVD are two musical shorts from Paramount Studios (A Rhapsody In Black And Blue featuring Armstrong and Symphony In Black with Holiday and Duke Ellington) as well as an essay on the making of New Orleans, which originated as a project for Orson Welles.


6King Creole King Creole (1958)

Elvis Presley delivers one of his finest early performances in King Creole. 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.


712 Years a Slave 12 Years a Slave (2013)

From director Steve McQueen and based on Solomon Northup’s astonishing true story comes this powerful 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.


8Easy Rider Easy Rider(1969)

Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975) stars with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directs) in this unconventional classic which Time Magazine hails as “one of the ten most important pictures of the decade.” Experience the real, 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 (Fonda and 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.


9Suddenly, Last Summer Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn each received 1960 Oscar nominations 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.


10JFK JFK (1991)

Academy Award-winner Oliver Stone’s (“Natural Born Killers,” “Born on the Fourth of July”) 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 (“Rumor Has It,” “The Bodyguard”) 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. Leonard Maltin acclaims this dramatic tale as “absolutely riveting. . . superb. . . Oscar-winner for Robert Richardson’s cinematography and Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia’s phenomenal editing.”


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


11The Cincinnati Kid The Cincinnati Kid’ (1965)

Oscar-nominees and Golden Globe-winners Steve McQueen (“Bullit,” “The Great Escape”) and Ann-Margret (“Grumpy Old Men”) and Oscar-honoree Edward G. Robinson (“Double Indemnity,” “Little Caesar”) star in this suspenseful drama about a young hotshot who travels to New Orleans to compete against the greatest poker player in the country. Another film set in 1930’s New Orleans.

Co-starring Oscar-winner Karl Malden (“Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront”), Oscar-nominee and Emmy-winner Rip Torn (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Men in Black”), and Oscar-nominees Joan Blondell (“Grease”) and Tuesday Weld (“Looking for Mr. Goodbar”). Blondell received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. Directed by Academy Award-winner Norman Jewison (“Moonstruck”).


12The Pelican Brief Pelican Brief (1993)

Academy Award-winner Julia Roberts – (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “Erin Brockovich”) who 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 — “Training Day,” “Malcolm X”) her only confidant and ally.

Co-starring Academy Award-nominee Sam Shepard (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “The Right Stuff”) and Tony Goldwyn (“The Last Samurai,” “Ghost”). With Emmy and Golden Globe-winner John Lithgow (“The World According to Garp,” TV’s “3rd Rock from the Sun”). Directed by Alan J. Pakula (“Sophie’s Choice,” “All the President’s Men”). “Superb! Fantastic suspense! A major thriller! Fast and exciting” (WNBC-TV). “An exhilarating, breathless, first-class thriller” (CBS-TV). “Perfect casting and stellar work by writer-producer-director Alan Pakula” (Variety).

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


13Runaway Jury Runaway Jury (2003)

From master storyteller John Grisham and the director of Don’t Say A Word comes a taut suspense-thriller that grabs hold of you, and never lets go. 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!


14Double Jeopardy Double Jeopardy (1999)

The chase is on! Ashley Judd shines in this unstoppable, unstoppable box-office smash that co-stars Tommy Lee Jones in his “best performance since The Fugitive.” 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. Packed with more crowd-pleasing excitement than several movies put together, Double Jeopardy delivers lots of action and spine-tingling suspense from start to finish.  The chase ends in New Orleans with several memorable scenes.

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


15Blaze Blaze (1989)

Academy Award® winner Paul Newman scorches the screen in this hilarious, sexy comedy from the creator of Bull Durham. Newman stars as a 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! Critically acclaimed, this sizzling tale delivers a most entertaining look at an offbeat love story!

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.


Documentaries

New Orleans ExposedNew Orleans Exposed (2005)

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.


TV Shows

NCIS: New Orleans NCIS: New Orleans (2014- )

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. Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula), aka “King,” a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. Working with Pride is Special Agent Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black), who plays hard but works harder; and Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody (Zoe McLellan), a charismatic and tough interrogator who transferred from the Great Lakes office in search of a fresh start. Supporting them is coroner Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder), who is as eccentric as she is smart. This colorful city that harbors a dark side is a magnet for service personnel on leave, and when overindulgence is followed by trouble, Pride’s team is at its best.


Treme Treme (2010-2013)

Amid the ruins of a great city, a group of musicians rise up to play songs of hope and rebirth. From the creators of The Wire(R) comes this acclaimed 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. There are four seasons of Treme


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