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Our curated celluloid history tells the tale of how Seattle grew up on-screen.

By Steve Wiecking November 13, 2009 Published in the December 2009 issue of Seattle Met

THE WORLD KNOWS we’re a movie-loving city (thank you, SIFF!), but Seattle has a criminally unheralded history as a movie making city, too. For more than 75 years, Hollywood’s traveling caravan of directors, producers, and craft service caterers has ventured north to shoot near Puget Sound, and here’s the silver-screen shocker of a twist ending: More often than not, they got us right and left us with our dignity.

Here are our picks for the 11 films, in chronological order, that defined Seattle’s cinematic persona—and 10 more guilty pleasures that we can’t help watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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Tugboat Annie (1933)

Scrappy old Marie Dressler pilots the tugboat Narcissus around the waters of “Secoma” while husband Wallace Beery, that darn scamp, nips at the booze. She’s got high hopes, though, for their son, to whom she exclaims, “Say, you know, your Pop ’n’ me’s gonna bust right open with pride the day we see you goin’ kersloppin’ past the old Narcissus on the bridge of your own liner!”

You kinda had to be there; it’s a 1933 sort of thing.

Dressler’s titular character was the creation of Norman ­Reilly Raine, a University of Washington lecturer, whose several stories about Tugboat Annie appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. He’d been inspired by Tacoma’s pioneering Thea Foss, a Norwegian immigrant who’d launched what would become Seattle’s still-operating Foss Maritime Company. Foss was nothing like Raine’s character or Dressler’s broad interpretation of it, but Raine’s research—through conversations with the Foss family—gave the movie tug-industry accuracy.

Hollywood had never paid us any attention before Metro-­Goldwyn-Mayer leased a Foss tug, the Wallowa, and filmed it as it chugged around Lake Union. The movie had its world premiere here and went on to be MGM’s most profitable film that year. Wallowa didn’t fare too badly, either: It was rebuilt, renamed Arthur Foss, set speed records, served in the Navy during World War II, and was retired as a National Historic Landmark moored in Lake Union Park by the Northwest Seaport Maritime Heritage Center.

How It Defined Us: Hollywood finally envisioned Seattle as a place that could be populated by big stars.


The Slender Thread (1965)

Sydney Pollack made his feature-film directorial debut with this earnest if overheated drama featuring Sidney Poitier as a Seattle Crisis Clinic volunteer who tries to keep suicidal caller Anne Bancroft holding onto life. Pollack shot everything but the interior of the crisis center on location. Two years earlier It Happened at the World’s Fair glorified Seattle Center; The Slender Thread took a more honest look at the rest of the city.

And what a look. The opening credits begin with a spectacular bird’s-eye view of the city, circa 1965, and for the next five minutes, accompanied by Quincy Jones’s propulsive score, the camera never rests. It gazes at Lake Washington; hovers above downtown; rushes toward the tip of the Space Needle; ponders a depressed Bancroft in the Pacific Science Center courtyard; zips across Lake Union; plunges into the University of Washington’s Red Square; follows Poitier through campus on a bike; settles into the Ballard Locks, where Bancroft’s husband glowers on a fishing boat; catches Poitier driving on the Ballard Bridge; and, finally, cuts to a desperate Bancroft racing in the opposite direction.

Pollack, who’d win an Oscar two decades later for Out of Africa, winced about his first post-TV assignment. “You have to take Dramamine to watch that movie,” he told Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution. “I was trying so hard to shake off the stigma of television that everything was moving and zooming and panning. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.”

How It Defined Us: Modern moviegoers got their first chance to view Seattle as a bona fide metropolis.

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Cinderella Liberty (1973)

A sailor on leave in Seattle falls for a prostitute, then decides to be a father to her biracial son. That there’s grit and not sap to this low-key romantic comedy is testament to director Mark Rydell’s affectingly grubby sense of grace as well as the refreshing directness of James Caan, Oscar-nominated Marsha Mason, and young newcomer Kirk Calloway. Add one helluva seedy downtown.

“It was a city of enormous flavor,” Rydell now muses about Seattle in the early ’70s. “I guess it was a more ‘down’ flavor than it is now.”

Cinderella Liberty captured Seattle at a time when whole blocks of First Avenue gave off the grimy flash of dive bars, adult bookstores, and porno palaces. None of the scenes was shot on a stage. An abandoned factory not far from Pike Place Market became Mason’s shabby apartment. “You could look out the window and see the water and trucks going by,” Rydell notes with pride. “Every time you see someone by a window there was all kinds of stuff going on behind them outside that didn’t need to be faked.”

How It Defined Us: The city stopped looking merely pretty and began to show a soiled soul.


Streetwise (1984)

Life magazine sent writer Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark to Seattle for a few weeks to find out if living could be hard in what was considered the nation’s most livable city. After their July 1983 story, “Streets of the Lost,” uncovered the daily distress of young hustlers, prostitutes, and runaways, Mark called her filmmaker husband Martin Bell to come document the action on Pike Street between First and Second avenues.

“It’s a story that you could still make today but it would look entirely different because cellphones have changed everything,” says Bell. “The kids used to hang around phones on the street. And there it was—in broad daylight—in one block.”

McCall and Mark established such a level of trust with their teenage subjects that Bell was able to wire a select few with body mikes as he followed them around. Others he filmed as they hopped in and out of cars while selling their bodies. “It’s very disturbing—but what am I going to do?” Bell says. “I can’t stop them. That’s how they were surviving.” He wasn’t able to remain completely detached. Anyone who watches the movie is haunted by Erin, aka “Tiny,” a 14-year-old with the Depression-era face of a Dorothea Lange portrait. Bell and Mark couldn’t shake her, either: They offered to take her back to New York with them on the condition that she go to school. She refused, yet the couple kept in contact with her, charting her life in several short films over the next two decades.

The movie earned an Oscar nomination for best documentary and stunned its subjects at the initial screening. “When they first started seeing themselves in the film, they laughed—they enjoyed seeing themselves on the street because they were like movie stars,” says Bell. “Then, as the film went on, it got very serious and quiet in the room. There were tears.”

One of the teens came up to Bell after that first viewing. “I want to hit somebody,” the kid said, “but I don’t know who to hit.”

How It Defined Us: The city revealed a real-life desperation hiding in plain sight.

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Trouble in Mind (1985) 

Director Alan Rudolph’s cheeky film noir transformed Seattle into a town where, as he puts it, “past meets the future, but it’s not the present.” Ex-cop Kris Kristofferson gets out of jail and heads back to his old haunt, a brooding, mysterious metropolis called Rain City ruled by characters like malevolent mob boss Hilly Blue (played by John Waters’s muse Divine in male drag).

“Like noir, Seattle to me exudes a hard-boiled romanticism, the appropriate mood for this story,” says Rudolph. “Everything we filmed, however, had to go through the Rain City filter. Most real-life or national brands were hidden or eliminated, replaced with Rain City sensibility, with its ominous, authoritarian overtones.” Teams of local artists provided signage and placards with slogans such as “Repression Is Depression.” As Kristofferson’s tough-talking old flame, Genevieve Bujold runs a cafe built out of a storage space on First and Blanchard. Some passersby who wandered in and tried to order food even earned jobs as extras. “Belltown was quite different then—funky, lonely, ignored,” says Rudolph.

The Seattle Asian Art Museum (then still the home of the Seattle Art Museum) acts as Hilly Blue’s estate. At the climax, his art collection is obliterated in a gonzo comic shoot-out. “Dale Chihuly offered some unbelievably gorgeous pieces that had imperfections,” Rudolph remembers. “I, of course, tried to save one from destruction, thinking I could find it a home.” No dice. Chihuly donated the pieces on the condition that they all be shattered.

Rudolph wrote Trouble, he says, with Seattle in mind to star: “A film’s setting plays a lead role, many times just as fictional as the other parts. Like any successful actor, Seattle has authenticity, movement, and looks good up close.”

How It Defined Us: Seattle proved capable of giving a full-bodied character performance.


Say Anything (1989) Singles (1992)

Cameron Crowe married Heart’s Nancy Wilson, a hometown hero, in 1986, so we may owe her some extra thanks: His first two films as writer and director were set in Seattle.

In Say Anything, John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler, a recent high school grad with no solid plans except not “to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career,” romances the class valedictorian, a beauty with a future named Diane Court (Ione Skye). Aside from references in dialogue, Crowe makes sure we know exactly where we’re supposed to be, giving Lloyd a depressive musician gal pal (priceless Lili Taylor) and grabbing casual passing shots of you-have-to-live-here-to-know-it landmarks such as Fremont’s Waiting for the Interurban sculpture.

No matter that the most iconic image was filmed in a park in Universal City, California. This is movie reality; that park is our park. And that image is golden: Undeterred after Diane breaks up with him, Lloyd stands outside her window at night, hoists his boom box over his head, and blasts the Peter Gabriel song “In Your Eyes.” It’s a statement of hurt, hot, bald love that for the MTV generation became the equivalent of Marlon Brando screaming “Stellaaaa!” at the bottom of the staircase in A Streetcar Named Desire.

There’s a scene near the beginning of Singles, meanwhile, that’s quietly imbued with a different sort of love. Campbell Scott, sitting in the courtyard of his Capitol Hill apartment complex with Kyra Sedgwick, looks around him and gives her a rundown of the tenants who live behind each window. He finishes and Sedgwick says, “You sound like me talking about my family.” Singles remains the movie that inspires people to live here and make families of their friends.

Crowe made friends here, too, and had them all within reach. Pearl Jam’s ­Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament—just before Ten, their breakthrough album, started to catch on—portray bandmates of addle-brained rocker Matt ­Dillon. A wealth of such cameos allows the film to both spoof and embrace the city’s burgeoning public persona. “This one was very close to him as a person because of his music background, his story, and his intimate knowledge of the breaking music scene that Nancy and her sister were kind of the godmothers of at the time,” says Singles production designer Stephen J. Lineweaver. “All of the big names out of Seattle we know today were either in the movie or sitting around the set all the time or we were at their music events—or they were performing music in our movie.”

The music lives on and so does that iconic apartment complex at 1820 East Thomas Street.

How They Defined Us: Crowe bestowed upon us the kind of insider’s affection that Woody Allen once lavished on New York.

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Sleepless in Seattle (1993) 

Sometime around 1980, writer Jeff Arch watched an episode of This Old House in which host Bob Vila toured a renovated Seattle houseboat. Arch himself was charmed by Seattle after a visit in 1985. “Then in 1990, I get this idea for a love story where the two people don’t meet, and I thought it’d be really cool if I set it on a houseboat,” Arch recollects. “Then I get to go to Seattle, I get to hang out on a houseboat, and what isn’t cool about that?”

Indeed—especially if your love story puts Tom Hanks on said houseboat and, after a series of near misses, hooks him up with Meg Ryan on top of the Empire State Building. The worldwide box office totaled nearly $228 million.

We’re still reaping the tourism benefits of Sleepless in Seattle. “It’s Americana at this point,” says David Blandford, director of public relations for Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. People still want to know where Hanks and buddy Rob Reiner talk tiramisu. (It’s the Athenian Inn.) Argosy, Ride the Ducks, and Waterways Cruises all spotlight Hanks’s floating haven on Lake Union.

The main tourist attraction—the houseboat itself—almost didn’t make it into the picture. “The family that owned the houseboat was getting divorced,” says producer Gary Foster, “and I ended up having to get on the phone with each of them and try to find a way for this to be something that they could agree on. And it was iffy.”

No surprise that the movie lures people here; it exudes the genuine fondness for the city felt by the visitors who made it. “I’d never been there and I instantly fell in love with the Market and tried to shoot as many scenes as I could in and around it,” says director Nora Ephron. “We lived on Union Street in an apartment right on top of the Market, and we went to it every day if possible. Started in cherry season and worked through peach season. It was a blissful shoot.” Even the Empire State Building took a shine to Seattle; the entire scene at the end of the movie was shot on a set built at Sand Point Naval Base.

How It Defined Us: Seattle came out of the rain to claim a permanent place as a romantic destination.


Image: Doug Pray

HYPE! (1996)

It wasn’t easy for documentary filmmaker Doug Pray to descend on Seattle with the idea of covering the grunge phenomenon. “The resistance to making a ‘Seattle scene’ movie was so huge ,” he says. The cynicism, ironically, was what sold him: “The anti­media passion was so intense it was a great story.”

Pray didn’t just skim the top of the cultural event—he dived down into it with an open curiosity. Watch the film with anyone who’s lived in Seattle for more than, say, a decade and you’re bound to hear at least one cry of “I know that guy!” Eddie Vedder’s around to muse about the effects of fame, sure, but Pray gives generous screen time to local acts like the Fastbacks and Gas Huffer. “We were recording bands who’d never even had a video made of them or anything,” Pray says. “And that act endeared us in a huge way. It broke down the wall.”

Local goodwill extended to the film’s major coup—footage of Nirvana’s first-ever live performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the now-demolished OK Hotel. All these years later, you can still feel the seismic shift about to happen in pop culture. “In classic Seattle friendly community spirit, it was very kindly shared with me by a filmmaker up there named Alan Pruzan,” Pray reports. “And the reason I say it was classic Seattle is I can see somebody in LA—of course, where I’m from—just being like, Yeah, I got that footage, what do I get for it? But the guy was just completely cool about it.”

Even after cutting hours of interviews teeming with anti-outsider angst, Pray still managed to capture Seattleites’ hands-off attitude: Onetime Sub Pop receptionist (and now executive vice president) Megan Jasper shares how she famously duped The New York Times with a phony grunge lexicon. “To me the Seattle music scene was always extremely funny and full of humor,” says Pray. “I think the mainstream media so got it wrong. To them it was all about heroin and rain.”

How It Defined Us: In the definitive document of what went down in the early ’90s, Seattle revealed the humanity behind its music.

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The Ring (2002)

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter played by Naomi Watts investigates a cursed videotape that kills anyone who views it. One more thing: It’s always raining.

Director Gore Verbinski thought he’d film his remake of the Japanese fright flick Ringu along the Northern California and Oregon coasts until he discovered the Emerald City’s hazy gloom. “The film was very much about what you can’t see and what you don’t know,” he says. “And that atmosphere in Seattle—with the rain, with the kind of obscured frame where things are haunting because there’s a sort of vagueness to everything—it’s like a dream.”

Not only did Verbinski have an eye for milieu but he kept his ears open while scouting locations on ferries. “I remember one day hearing this strange sort of g-g-g-g-g-guh—that sound they make when the waves come in underneath and the whole thing starts to shake,” he says. He had the sound guy mike the entire Quinault ferry, and the recorded noise permeates the movie’s soundtrack: “It’s just this deep, sort of subwoofer, never-ending pulse.”

Talk about seasonal affective disorder: A numb Watts gazes out the drizzly window of her gray downtown apartment complex to see several denizens in the next building staring dully at the boob tube. Our city a cold, muted, wet place where people stay inside watching movies until they die? Why didn’t somebody think of this sooner?

How It Defined Us: Hollywood caught on to Seattle’s ability to give you the creeps.


Humpday (2009)

Local filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s third feature landed a national distribution deal the Monday after it screened at the Sundance Film Festival. This was not a given considering the plot. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard play straight buddies who, in a complicated bit of drunken brio, vow to have sex with each other for Hump!, The Stranger’s amateur porn festival. “None of us wanted to make this movie if it was going to be a broad farce,” says Shelton. “I only wanted to make it if we could take up the challenge of making it feel believable.”

Shelton met Duplass in 2007. They hit it off and she decided to “custom-­design” a character with him for her next film. They discussed how a good starting point for a story is sometimes just to take a well-drawn character out of his comfort zone. “Then another friend of mine went to Hump! and he had a really interesting reaction to it, because as a straight guy he’d never seen gay porn,” she says. “And it just got my head turning about the relationship between straight guys and gayness.”

Humpday feels very Seattle in its spot-on depiction of fairly provincial people whose comfort zones are not as limitless as they’d like to pretend. There’s something wincingly familiar about the way a nervous Duplass tells his wife that working on the sex flick is merely “reclaiming pornography back to an art place.”

Every line of dialogue was improvised. Shelton worked out “an emotional map” of where each scene had to go, and the actors worked out their characters. “It’s sort of like passing a soccer ball down a field,” she explains. “They’re constantly assisting each other so they can get to that end goal.”

Duplass and Leonard’s date with destiny worked differently. “I knew what was going to happen in every scene up until the hotel room,” Shelton says. “We realized that in order for the movie to ring true we needed to let honesty be our guide. We left all our preconceptions at the door and were ready for anything to happen.”

No—we’re not going to tell you.

How It Defined Us: A thoughtful Seattle indie put all those sniggering Tinseltown “bromances” to shame.

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Image: Erik Olson

The Dude Speaks
Jeff Bridges is as cool as you think he is.

Since Oscar somehow hasn’t managed to award him yet, we thought we’d call Jeff Bridges to tell him that, as far as this city’s concerned, he’s already the best actor. The man has appeared in four films made here—and in a fifth, the Coen brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski, he plays a character (the Dude) based on Jeff Dowd, a member of the early-’70s political activists who became known as the Seattle Seven. When we spoke with Bridges, he’d just been in town to introduce a screening of Lebowski at Dale Chihuly’s birthday party. He gave us his thoughts on his Seattle cinema efforts.


The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Though it can’t compete with the sight of Michelle Pfeiffer crooning “Makin’ Whoopee” atop a very lucky piano in LA’s Biltmore Hotel, Seattle looks glamorously downbeat as the wet neon backdrop for Jeff and big brother Beau Bridges’s waning lounge act. The younger Bridges explains the technical reason why he looks so damn good tickling the ivories: “I am a musician, but I’m nowhere near the musician that Dave Grusin is. We videotaped Dave playing all the music that I’d be playing. I practiced those parts and then when we got to the day of shooting, we deadened the piano so it wouldn’t play. We played Grusin’s thing, and I was playing the notes that Grusin was playing so it looked like I was actually playing it. I mean, I was playing it, but that’s not what you were hearing, you know what I’m sayin’? I think we did that pretty well.”


American Heart (1993)
Director Martin Bell took his documentary Streetwise as inspiration for this uneven but emotionally well-observed drama in which Bridges, fresh out of prison, begrudgingly bonds with teenage son Edward Furlong while struggling to survive on a fairly squalid block of Summit Avenue on Capitol Hill. Bridges, in one of his best performances, looks and sounds like somebody you don’t mess with: “I worked out with some ex-cons, guys who knew how to get their bodies in shape because they had to be in shape in prison. And I got a lot of advice from Eddie Bunker, the guy who wrote the book for Straight Time, that Dustin Hoffman film—just stuff about how I’d talk to a parole officer or a cop. Having him around was a huge help. He was there during rehearsal. He was a real touchstone for me.”


The Vanishing (1993)
Kiefer Sutherland obsesses over the disappearance of girlfriend Sandra Bullock until her abductor tracks him down. Director George Sluizer remade his own 1988 Dutch/French success Spoorloos; the new film cops out where the original left you rattled. Bridges, however, deftly turns his shaggy charm into pathology as Barney, the game-playing psycho who cruises Pike Place Market for potential victims. He tops it off with a genuinely weird way of talking: “George Sluizer had me make up a personal history for the character. I sort of figured his persona and his accent would be contrived. And right around the same time George came up to me and said, in his own accent, ‘ I’m the real Barney, Jeff.’ So I loosely based it on George’s accent. And I don’t think he ever mentioned anything about, you know, doing less accent or more accent. I don’t think he even thought of it as an accent.”


Big City Dick  (2004)
Bridges’s father Lloyd starred in a late-1950s TV show called Sea Hunt—which just happens to be among the many obsessions of Richard Peterson, the autistic savant whose decades as a Seattle street musician are covered in this consistently surprising and laudably unsentimental documentary. Bridges appears in the film to recount the story of his first of many encounters with Peterson, whom he met while in town filming American Heart. It’s also one of his favorite ­Seattle memories: “I was getting ready for work when I hear this trumpet note. And the music started to sound kind of familiar. So I look out the window and there’s this guy playing the sound cues from Sea Hunt. I go outside and he wants to embrace me so, you know, I give him a hug. And he goes, ‘Son of Sea Hunt! Son of Sea Hunt!’ And every time I saw Richard after that we went through the exact same meeting every single time.”

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More must-sees, gossip, and guilty pleasures.

The King had his eye on the Emerald City in It Happened at the World’s Fair.

It Happened at the World's Fair (1963)

When Elvis Presley shakes his head in awestruck disbelief after watching the elevator ascend the Space Needle, Seattle suddenly seems like a happenin’ place. Off-screen, the King dated a local teen and his presence here inspired crazed fans to clamber up the fire escape of his hotel. He must have been a good influence on the set, though: The six-year-old girl (Vicky Tiu) whom he befriends during the fair grew up to become the first lady of Hawaii in 1997; the 11-year-old boy who kicks him in the shins grew up to be, well, him (it’s Kurt Russell, who portrayed Elvis in a 1979 TV movie).


Harry in Your Pocket (1973)

Trish Van Devere catches Michael Sarrazin’s clumsy effort to swipe her watch in King Street Station; she’s intrigued instead of ticked off. They head to bed then fall in with fleet-fingered James Coburn, who teaches them the in-depth diversionary tactics of professional pickpockets. Real-life Mayor Wes Uhlman falls prey to Coburn’s methods in a cameo appearance at a Seattle First National Bank.


McQ (1974)

“John Wayne is McQ,” trumpets the trailer, “and this time, for the first time, he’s a cop!” The Duke, horseless and lawless in an attempt to out-dirty Dirty Harry, zooms angrily around Seattle in a Trans Am hoping to nab whoever made off with “$2 million in junk.” (He needs a better map: Streetwise Seattleites will notice that during one chase he’s traveling in a circle.) When he storms into Pioneer Square’s old J&M Café to kick some drug-kingpin ass, keep an eye out for the guy watching TV at the bar who gives McQ some bad news. That’s real-life J&M co-owner Harry Poll, who negotiated a cameo for himself.


The Parallax View (1974)

Director Alan J. Pakula’s superior conspiracy thriller starring Warren Beatty granted the Space Needle real gravitas thanks to an assassination sequence that boasts a scramble for the gunman right across the tower’s top. Cinematographer Gordon Willis downplays the perils of filming that pursuit as well as the decision to keep it to a single shot: “On a place like the Needle, you minimize the equipment and define things in the simplest possible ways. Your taste dictates what that might be. There’s no need for anything else.” Simple or no, the chilling spectacle put our landmark on the movie map as a terrifying place to perish.


Frances (1982)

Jessica Lange gives an Oscar-­nominated performance as West Seattle’s rebellious Frances Farmer (1913–1970), who went to Hollywood and went nuts. Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer film critic William Arnold sticks by the controversial claim in Shadowland, his 1978 Farmer biography, that she’d likely been lobotomized. Evidently the people behind Frances believed him: Arnold was part of a group that sued the producers for cribbing from the bio without crediting him. “It went all the way through federal court,” Arnold sighs now. “And the ultimate, precedent-setting decision was that you can’t protect what are facts.” Facts aren’t big in Frances, though. The movie features a glittering recreation of the Paramount Theatre premiere of Farmer’s only Tinseltown triumph, Come and Get It—which in fact premiered at First and Pike’s long-gone Liberty Theatre.
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WarGames (1983)

It’s high-tech tension set in Seattle but filmed mostly in California or in Puget Sound locales such as Anderson Island (the movie’s Goose Island). “Shall we play a game?” a computer asks teen hacker Matthew Broderick. The delighted Broderick replies, “Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?” Big mistake on his part, but fun for the rest of us.


House of Games (1987)

Playwright David Mamet made his directorial debut with this ice-cold thriller filled with terse dialogue and tense plot twists. His then-wife Lindsay Crouse plays a psychiatrist who gets schooled by seductive con man Joe Mantegna. The film was shot here but doesn’t feel of here; Mamet would probably prefer you think everything’s going down in Chicago. There is, however, a terrific climax at Sea-Tac where Crouse shows Mantegna what a good teacher he’s been.


Dogfight (1991)

Seattle luminously stands in for San Francisco, where River Phoenix brings Lili Taylor to downtown’s Nite Lite Lounge as part of the titular competition—a cruel game between him and his Marine buddies to see who can show up with the homeliest girl—before he ships out to Vietnam. How she finds out and they fall in love anyway makes for one of the great unsung movie romances. Many locals appear as extras or in small roles, including Brendan Fraser, then a recent Cornish grad, who makes his film debut as a sailor. Look for cameos, too, by the Paramount Theatre and the Byrnie Utz Hats shop (note the Borsalino sign).


Angelina Jolie was sweet as a cupcake when she filmed Life or Something Like It in Seattle.

Life or Something Like It (2002)

Yeah—or something like it: Poufy-haired, platinum blonde Angelina Jolie plays a local TV reporter. Pure bunk, sure, but Jolie looks like a delicious cupcake topped with too much frosting. Real Seattle weatherman Steve Pool and several of his KOMO-TV colleagues portrayed her news team in their own station’s studios. This was, remember, the Jolie notorious for wearing Billy Bob Thornton’s blood in a necklace. “We had heard that maybe she was going to be kind of freaky,” Pool recalls. “But, I gotta tell you, she was very friendly. In fact, when I would talk to her she would say, ‘Just call me Angie.’ ” How many men have longed to hear those words?


The Heart of the Game (2005)

Race issues, teamwork, and the empowerment of young women all factor into this exhilarating documentary. Filmmaker Ward Serrill met Roosevelt High School girls basketball coach Bill Resler through a mutual friend, then went to a game and witnessed a Roughriders huddle. “When they all came around Resler,” Serrill said later, “I saw more pure passion and enthusiasm coming out of the girls than I had seen in any gymnasium in any sport anywhere.” Serrill intended to document just one season until defiant young Darnellia Russell, an African American among Roosevelt’s chiefly white students, walked into the gym the following year. You don’t have to like basketball to be enthralled by his decision to keep filming.

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