Elizabethtown starring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom
With its gorgeous landscapes and congenial residents, Kentucky is seen by filmmakers as the perfect setting from which to tell their stories for both the big and small screen. Following is a list of movies filmed in the Bluegrass State:
1938 - Kentucky
This love story starring Loretta Young was partially filmed at Castleton Farm off Iron Works Pike in Fayette County. The film was remade into a radio drama in 1945.
1955 - The Kentuckian
Burt Lancaster starred in and directed this first modern-day major motion picture set largely in the Bluegrass State. Prior to filming the movie, Lancaster said it would be his last acting job and instead wanted to focus on directing. The film was based on the novel, The Gabriel Horn by Murray native Felix Holt. Holt, a former Stars and Stripes cartoonist, also wrote Daniel Boone Kissed Me, which was published shortly before his death in 1954.
Film websites note that Cumberland Falls State Park and Levi Jackson State Park were used in filming The Kentuckian, but Owensboro natives recall an old floating restaurant called The Steamwheeler also was used, along with a few citizens who were more than happy to earn some much-needed cash as extras.
1957 - Raintree County
This Civil War romance starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift was filmed in Danville and Frankfort’s Liberty Hall. During the filming of the movie, Clift received facial injuries in an auto accident in Beverly Hills. Upon recovery, Clift completed the film and moviegoers flocked to the theaters to see if they could spot any differences in his appearance.
1957 - April Love
Starring Pat Boone and Shirley Jones, this film had scenes with Lexington backdrops, including Stone Leigh Farm.
1964 - Goldfinger
With the iconic Sean Connery as Agent 007, this James Bond installment filmed at Fort Knox was the franchise’s third feature but first box office hit. The success of the movie led to the biggest-selling toy of 1964, an Aston Martin DB5 replica.
1965 - The Great Race
Numerous scenes of this film, which starred Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk, were shot on location around Lexington.
1967 - The Flim Flam Man
Starring George C. Scott, Harry Morgan and Slim Pickens, this huckster comedy was filmed partially in Lexington and Winchester, with the famous car chase scene running through downtown Lawrenceburg. During production, a crew member was sent to see the director of the Anderson County High School marching band and asked him to stop rehearsing so the filmmakers could complete the shoot. Miffed that his rehearsal was interrupted by out-of-towners, the band director promptly asked the students to continue.
1980 - Coal Miner's Daughter
The biographical story of Kentucky native Loretta Lynn was not only filmed in such places as Whitesburg and Jenkins, but the screenwriter for the picture also was a Kentuckian. Tom Rickman grew up in Sharpe (Marshall County) and went on to graduate with a degree in English from Murray State.
1981 - Stripes
This military comedy starring Bill Murray, John Candy and Harold Ramis was filmed at Fort Knox and in the Louisville area. Interestingly, when Murray’s character is taking someone to the airport, he is traveling north on Louisville’s Second Street Bridge, toward Indiana and away from the airport.
The barracks used in the movie have been repurposed and are now used to train soldiers in urban warfare.
1981 - Taps
Filmed at the Millersburg Military Institute (now the Forest Hill Military Academy) and starring Timothy Hutton, Tom Cruise and Sean Penn.
1988 - Rain Man
In the scene where Raymond Babbit (Dustin Hoffman) leaves his institutional home known as Walbrook, notice the architecture of the facility. It’s actually St. Anne Convent in Melbourne (Campbell County). Today, it hosts retreats and programs.
During the weeklong shoot of the toothpick scene at Pompilio’s Bar and Restaurant, the actors and crew became fans of the Italian sampler platter. But interestingly, in the movie, Raymond orders pancakes.
1992 - A League of Their Own
Want to own a bit of movie history? You can! The Soaper-Esser House in Henderson was the location selected as the boarding house for the Rockford Peaches in this Penny Marshall film. The movie starred Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna, but the house took center stage for architecture buffs. The gorgeous, 8,400-square-foot Queen Anne home boasts five bedrooms, five bathrooms, nine fireplaces and a ballroom space with a bar. Oh, and it even has a basement.
1993 - Lost in Yonkers
This film adaptation Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize-winning play was filmed in Augusta, Ludlow and parts of Boone County and starred Richard Dreyfuss and Mercedes Ruehl.
1997 - Fire Down Below
Partially filmed in Hazard, this Steven Seagal film was a box office flop. However, CSI fans may want to watch it to see Marg Helgenberger before she started toting an evidence case.
1999 - The Insider
Michael Mann's film about tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand (played by Russell Crowe) was filmed in several locations in Louisville. The movie received multiple Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best actor and best director.
2003 - Elizabethtown
This story about a man exploring his family roots was filmed
in large part in Versailles, Louisville and, of course, Elizabethtown. Writer/director Cameron Crowe’s father is from Stanton. While shooting the film, Orlando Bloom became a huge fan of Kentucky’s own Ale-8-One. The movie also heavily features the Louisville-based band, My Morning Jacket.
2005 - Seabiscuit
In this film inspired by the true story of a Depression-era racehorse, Keeneland doubled as Pimlico Race Course for the big match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral because Pimlico had changed dramatically since the 1930s. During filming, many of the “extras” actually were mannequins, and the nifty fedoras often worn during the period were simply plastic look-alikes. One of the horses that portrayed Seabiscuit, Popcorn Deelites, can be seen at Old Friends Farm in Scott County. He’s a bit of a showoff.
2005 - Dreamer
Starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning; filmed in the central Kentucky area, including Woodford County's Ashford Stud and Marshall's Backstretch Diner in Frankfort.
2010 - Secretariat
Of course, Kentucky would be chosen as a location to tell the story of the Triple Crown winner and his owner, Penny Chenery, in a movie starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. Those with sharp eyes will easily spot parts of Churchill Downs and Keeneland. Yet it took five different horses to play Secretariat. Makeup artists would paint socks and facial markings on the horses to look like the famous “Big Red.”
2011 - The Ides Of March
Look closely. This George Clooney political drama was filmed at various points in northern Kentucky. With a keen eye, you’ll see Ryan Gosling’s character sitting near the Roebling Bridge overlooking the Ohio River and recognize the Cincinnati skyline.
2014 - 50 to 1
The feature film about 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird includes scenes filmed at Churchill Downs. Jockey Calvin Borel makes an onscreen appearance ... as himself.