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Pennsylvania is an amazing state filled with beautiful locations, interesting people, and fascinating stories. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that the state has been the setting for many great movies.
From the earliest days of cinema to the present day, some of the most popular and successful films of all time have been set in PA.
Here are a few of the best movies that have used the state as their backdrop.
(You can also check out our favorite TV shows set in PA!)
There might be no movie more synonymous with Pennsylvania than Rocky.
Written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, this 1976 film follows the story of Italian-American boxer Rocky Balboa as he trains to fight champion Appolo Creed in Philadelphia. The film spawned seven sequels (so far) that also feature the city heavily.
The movie was primarily filmed in Philly. In fact, the scene of Rocky running up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is so iconic that they are now known as “The Rocky Steps.” Many visitors to the city can’t leave without running up the steps and getting a photo next to the statue of Rocky Balboa.
Rocky can be streamed or purchased on Amazon.
The 1993 film Gettysburg tells the story of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania. The film, which features a star-studded cast, is one of the longest films ever released in theaters at over four hours long.
The film was praised for its historical accuracy and was the first movie to ever be filmed, in part, on the actual battlefield.
Gettysburg can be purchased on streamed on Amazon.
Groundhog Day is n 1993 film that stars Bill Muray as Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh weatherman than visits Punxsutawney, PA for Groundhog Day. However, Connors gets stuck reliving the same day over and over again until he gets it just right.
While Groundhog Day wasn’t actually filmed in Punxsutawney, it definitely put this town and its signature event on the radar for many people around the world.
Groundhog Day can be streamed on Netflix or can be purchased on Amazon.
The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is a thriller starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. This 1999 film was set in Philadelphia, and many spots around the city can be seen during the movie, as is the case with many of M. Night Shyamalan’s films.
In the film, Willis plays a child psychologist who tries to help Osment with his unique sixth sense: the ability to see dead people. Willis’ character helps Osmet’s to see the benefits of his gift and to help the ghosts he sees.
The Sixth Sense can be purchased on Amazon but doesn’t appear to be streaming for free anywhere at the time of publication.
That Thing You Do
That Thing You Do is a 1996 comedy written, directed by, and starring Tom Hanks.
The film follows a teenage musical group, the Wonders, as they come to prominence in their hometown of Erie, PA. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, “That Thing You Do” (which can be seen above).
That Thing You Do can be watched on Amazon.
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is a 2012 romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
The movie is based on a non-fiction book of the same name by Matthew Quick. However, unlike the book, which was set in New Jersey, the movie was set in Upper Darby, a Pennsylvania suburb of Philadelphia.
In the film, Cooper plays a character who just been released from treatment for bipolar disorder. He meets Lawrence’s character, a young divorcee, who also has a mental disorder. The film follows their budding romance.
Silver Linings Playbook can be streamed on Netflix or purchased on Amazon.
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead was a genre-establishing film by director George Romero. Romero, a Pittsburgh native, filmed the movie primarily in Evans City in Butler County, PA. The setting of the film was simply listed as “rural Pennsylvania”.
This film revolutionized the horror genre of filmmaking and introduced the concept of zombies into American culture. It also spawned a series of sequels and adaptations over the decades. There’s even a Living Dead Museum in Evans City dedicated to the film.
Night of the Living Dead can be purchased or streamed on Amazon.
The 1993 film Philadelphia starred Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. The film was one of the first to tackle the AIDS crisis and dealt with a Philadelphia lawyer (Hanks) who was suing his employer for wrongful termination.
The film, which was largely filmed in the city, was the first in which Tom Hanks won an Academy Award. The song also featured several excellent songs about Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia can be streamed on Netflix or purchased on Amazon.
Angels in the Outfield
Angels in the Outfield is a 1951 film set in Pittsburgh (Not to be confused with the 1994 film of the same name).
The film follows the story of the Pittsburgh Pirates as they struggle in last place. An angel appears to their manager, offering help if he controls his swearing and fighting. From then on, a group of angels helps the ballplayers throughout the season.
Interestingly, the film was shot largely at Forbes Field, so it also offers great glimpses of this historic stadium.
Angels in the Outfield can be purchased on Amazon, but doesn’t appear to be streaming anywhere online.
National Treasure is a 2004 action film starring Nicholas Cage. The film follows Cage’s character’s quest to uncover a treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers.
Much of the film was shot in Philadelphia, and many prominent landmarks around Old City are shown, including Independence Hall.
National Treasure can be streamed on Disney+ or purchased on Amazon.
Flashdance is a 1983 romantic drama that has remained popular with audiences despite poor reviews from critics.
The film is set in Pittsburgh and follows a young woman that works in a steel mill but has dreams of being a dancer. The film was shot primarily in Pittsburgh and offers a great glimpse at the city’s grittiness in the early 1980s. This is in great contrast to the city today.
Flashdance isn’t currently available for streaming but can be purchased on Amazon.
There aren’t many films that feature the Amish community, but 1985’s Witness was one such film.
The film starred Harrison Ford, in his only Academy Award-nominated performance so far, as a Philadelphia detective that has to protect a young Amish boy who witnesses a murder. Ford’s character even goes so far as to embed himself in the Lancaster County Amish community to watch over him.
Witness can be purchased on Amazon.
12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.
After a virus wipes out much of humanity, the survivors are living underground. Willis’ plays a criminal in Philadelphia who goes back in time to try and find the origins of the disease to help develop a cure for it. Much of the film was filmed in Philly and many places around the city can be seen, including the historic Eastern State Penitentiary.
12 Monkeys can be purchased on Amazon.
The Molly Maguires
The Molly Maguires is a 1970 film starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris. Set in northeastern Pennsylvania, the film tells the true story of the Molly Maguires, a group of Irish-American miners that were fighting for reforms in the industry.
While parts of the film are dramatized, it offers a great look into the history of Pennsylvania’s coal mining industry and labor unions.
This film was shot largely at Eckley Miners’ Village in Luzerne County, and the film restoring the site is a primary reason why it is still available for visitors to enjoy.
The film can be purchased on Amazon.
Trading Places is a 1983 comedy starring Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Jaime Lee Curtis.
The film is set in Philadelphia and follows the story of Akroyd, a rich broker, and Murphy, a street hustler, who switch places after a bet by Akroyd’s boss. The film is often considered to be a modern take on “The Prince and the Pauper” by Mark Twain.
Trading Places can be purchased on Amazon but isn’t currently available for streaming.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is the second Tom Hanks film on this list and was released in 2019.
The film tells a story from the life of TV’s Mister Rogers, and, since Rogers was from the Pittsburgh area and filmed in the city, Pittsburgh is heavily featured in the movie.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood isn’t currently streaming online but can be purchased on Amazon.
Marley & Me
Marley & Me is a 2008 film based on a non-fiction book by John Grogan. The film stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Both of the main characters are reporters in Florida who adopt a dog they name Marley. Wilson’s character begins to write a column about their dog. Eventually, the family moves to rural eastern Pennsylvania as Wilson’s character continues his career at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Marley & Me can be purchased on Amazon.
Allegheny Uprising was a 1939 film starring John Wayne. The film focused loosely on the story of the 1765 Black Boys Rebellion during the French and Indian War.
These rebels were frustrated with the British after Pontiac’s Rebellion and often attacked supplies heading towards Fort Pitt, especially in the area around Fort Loudon near present-day McConnellsburg. In the film, Wayne plays the leader of this little-known uprising against the British.
Allegheny Uprising can be purchased on Amazon.
My Girl is a 1991 film that told the story of an 11-year-old girl that lived in the fictional southern Pennsylvania town of Madison.
The movie is set in 1972 and highlights a budding romance between the young characters as it tells the story of one summer. Along the way, the characters learn about life, love, and loss.
My Girl can be streamed on Netflix, or you can purchase it on Amazon.
Adventureland is a 2009 coming-of-age drama set in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1987.
The story follows a recent college graduate, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who gets a job an Adventure, a run-down amusement park near the city. The movie tells about his summer working with a group of unique characters, played in part by Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig.
Adventureland can be purchased on Amazon.
The Philadelphia Story
The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 romantic comedy starring Cart Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and PA-native Jimmy Stewart.
The film was based on a Broadway play that told the story of a Philadelphia socialite who was planning her wedding. However, things were complicated by the arrival of her ex-husband and a tabloid journalist.
Without a doubt, this is considered by many to be among the best romantic comedies of all time.
The Philadelphia Story can be bought on Amazon.
Houseguest was a 1995 comedy starring Sinbad and Phil Hartman.
Sinbad’s character is a resident of Pittsburgh and runs into trouble with the mob. He runs into Hartman who is looking for a childhood friend at the Pittsburgh airport. The movie then follows through Sinbad’s character’s time in the suburb of Sewickley.
Parts of the film were actually filmed in the region, including in downtown Sewickley, giving an interesting glimpse into western PA life.
Houseguest can be purchased on Amazon.
The Blob is a 1958 science fiction film that was set in the Philadelphia suburbs of Phoenixville and Downingtown.
The film stars Steve McQueen and tells the story of an alien blob that grows larger as it consumes people. One of the movie’s most well-known scenes involves moviegoers running in terror out of a theater. This scene was filmed at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville.
Today, the community holds a yearly festival around the film.
The Blob can be purchased on Amazon.
Do you have a favorite movie set in Pennsylvania that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
What to experience even more of PA from home? Check out our favorite live-streaming wildlife cameras, some great virtual tours, or try your hand at an online puzzle featuring Pennsylvania.