In January of 2010 we embarked on a quest to see every movie filmed in the Spokane area. It all started when I stumbled across the poetry of Sherman Alexie. I don’t remember exactly how my incessant internet trolling brought me to “Powwow Ghazal,” but I’m sure glad it did. Alexie’s poem “Powwow Ghazal” is touching, deeply intriguing (I read it over and over) and it made me laugh. Sherman Alexie is a talented author (and filmmaker, I later found out) who grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington (not far from Moosicorn Ranch). Although I just discovered him, Sherman Alexie is no small town secret. He has received countless awards and recognition for his work. Most recently, his book War Dances won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
Accolades aside, I was becoming a fast fan. When I found out he had made the movie The Business of FancyDancing, I added it to the top of our Netflix Queue. Scott was a little disappointed that I had postponed the arrival of Dexter for a movie about “Fancy Dancing,” but had no regrets after we watched it. It was a beautiful movie, with haunting music, humor and drama and it spurred a marathon of movies filmed in Spokane.
And so we set out to see films featuring this picturesque place we are honored to call home. Our first task was to find a comprehensive list of all the movies shot in and around Spokane. We found a detailed list through the Spokesman Review’s Facebook Page and did some Google searching, then we loaded up our Queue. A few are proving more difficult than others to track down. One good example of this is Fool’s Gold, a silent film produced in 1919. Needless to say, it’s not available on Netflix. But on the whole, we’ve been quite lucky in locating movies filmed around the Inland Northwest.
We’ve rounded up all the movies filmed in the Spokane area and I think this is one of the most complete list on the internet. After we watch a movie, a little Moosicorn is placed by the title. I’ve linked all of the film titles to their listing on Netflix. If you use Netflix and want to jump on the “Filmed in Spokane” wagon, just click on the links and add them to your queue.
Movies Filmed Entirely or Partially in Spokane Listed in Chronological Order:
1. Fool’s Gold (1919, Spokane Valley). Laurence Trimble directed this silent film about two gold miners vying for the same woman. (Not in release)
2. The Grub Stake (1923, Spokane and Priest Lake). Nell Shipman directed and starred in this silent film about a heroine who ends up founding an animal sanctuary.
3. The Lusty Men (1952, Spokane and some rodeo exteriors). Nicholas Ray directed this rodeo adventure starring Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward. (VHS, out of print)
4. Why Would I Lie? (1980, Spokane). Treat Williams is a social worker who tends to tell lies. (out of print)
5. Runaway (1984, Moses Lake). Sgt. Jack Ramsey (Tom Selleck) is the police robotics expert. Dr. Charles Luthor (Kiss front man Gene Simmons) releases his reprogrammed androids. Also staring Cynthia Rhoades (Dirty Dancing) and Kirstie Alley (“Cheers”).
6. Only a Buck (1987, Spokane). Gerry Cook’s shoestring-budget film, starring Spokane artist Charlie Schmidt, about the making of a film.
7. Vision Quest (1985, Spokane). A coming-of-age story about a Spokane high school wrestler (Matthew Modine) pursing his “vision quest” — winning the state championship and finding true love. Featuring a performance by Madonna.
8. Always (1989, Sprague, Ephrata, WA and Libby, Mont.); A romantic adventure about a legendary pilot’s passion for dare-devil firefighting and his girl. Staring Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter.
9. The Ghosting (1992, Spokane) A psychological thriller about an ax-murderer who returns to the scene of the crime.
10. Toys (1992, Spangle / Palouse area) Robin Williams stars as Leslie Zevo, a fun-loving inventor who must save his late father’s toy factory from his evil uncle.
11. Benny & Joon (1993, Spokane). Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson star in a love story between two eccentric individuals.
12. Love Always (1996, Spokane and San Diego). Marisa Ryan starred as a struggling actress who heads for Spokane to visit her boyfriend.
13. Dante’s Peak (1997, Wallace); Pierce Brosnan comes to Dante’s Peak to investigate the recent rumblings of the dormant volcano.
14. The Postman (1997, Metaline Falls); Will Patton and Kevin Costner are living in the year 2013, in the desolation of a post-apocalypse United States.
15. Smoke Signals (1998, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, etc.). The estranged father of Victor Joseph (Adam Beach) dies in Arizona, and Victor must go collect the cremated remains. Victor can’t afford the fare, but annoying nerd Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams) will float Victor a loan … if he can tag along. A tender tale of self-discovery is based on acclaimed author Sherman Alexie’s short stories.
16. Mel (1998, Spokane and Sandpoint). Joey Travolta directed this North by Northwest production about an elderly man whose grandkids discover a giant turtle named Mel.
17. Detour (1999, Spokane and Rosalia). Joey Travolta directed this North by Northwest production about a guy (Jeff Fahey) who robs the wrong warehouse.
18. Y2K (1999, Spokane). Eric Ristau directed this low-budget mystery about the Y2K phenomenon. (out of print)
19. The Basket (1999, Spokane and Lamont, Wash.). During World War I, a pastor adopts two German orphans. The townsfolk are suspicious of the children and of the new schoolteacher, Mr. Conlon (Peter Coyote). Conlon teaches them to play basketball. Karen Allen also stars.
20. American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody’s Land (1999, Spokane). A documentary about the life of gypsies in the United States.
21. Newtown (2001, Spokane). Justin Whiteman directed this clever look at Spokane politics. (Never released)
22. Jazz Seen (2001, Spokane). A documentary about the life of photographer William Claxton.
23. The Business of FancyDancing (2002, Wellpinit); Based on Sherman Alexie’s book of poetry of the same name. Gene Tagaban and Evan Adams confront their past due to a friend’s funeral at the Reservation.
24. Whacked! (2002, Spokane). Carmen Electra and Judge Reinhold star in this action film about hired-assassin brothers trying to find a killer.
25. The Knockaround Guys (2002, Spokane (Felts Field Airport)Vin Diesel, Seth Green, Barry Pepper and Andrew Davoli co-star as the four sons of major Brooklyn mobsters who must team up to retrieve a bag of cash from a small Montana town ruled by a corrupt sheriff (Tom Noonan).
26. Hangman’s Curse (2003, Spokane). A family of investigators looks into reports of supernatural happenings in a high school.
27. Monstersdotcom (2003, Spokane). A compilation of short films that includes Kevin J. Lindenmuth’s “Spam,” Andy Kumpon’s “Last Stop Station,” Wayne Spitzer’s “Shadows in the Garden” and Chris Mack’s “Quench.”
28. The Industry (2003, Spokane). A documentary following the country music career of Aaron Lines.
29. 3 on 3 (2004, Spokane). Andrea Palpant wrote and directed this documentary following three teams in Spokane’s annual Hoopfest tourney
30. Shadow of Fear (2004, Spokane). When Harrison French (Matthew Davis) accidentally kills someone, he turns to powerful attorney William Ashbury (James Spader) for help, and there are consequences as well as a score to settle.
31. The Cutter (2004, Spokane). When a kidnapping rescue mission goes horribly wrong, Detective John Shepherd (Chuck Norris) escapes his guilty conscience by trying to save an aging diamond cutter, Issac Teller (Bernie Kopell), who’s been abducted by an unknown madman.
32. Mozart and the Whale (2005, Spokane). Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell portray lovers with Asperger’s Syndrome.
33. Whispers in the Wind (2005, Spokane). A documentary about Native Americans and the effort to keep the culture alive.
34. Dandelion (2005, Palouse & Moscow, Idaho). In a small town of rolling fields and endless skies, isolated 16 year old Mason lives in a world where families exist in fragmented silence and love seems to have gone missing. Then Mason meets Danny.
35. End Game (2006, Spokane and Liberty Lake). Cuba Gooding Jr. and Angie Harmon star in this film about a conspiracy to assassinate the president.
36. Home of the Brave (2006, Spokane); Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Biel star in this movie about three American soldiers encounter some tough challenges as they adjust to life after performing a tour of duty in Iraq.
37. Lonely Hearts (2006, Spokane) In this docudrama, John Travolta and James Gandolfini play homicide detectives assigned to pursue the fugitive couple Martha Beck (Salma Hayek) and Raymond Fernandez (Jared Leto)
38. The Contract (2006, Spokane) While camping with his teenage son (Jamie Anderson), Ray Keene (John Cusack) realizes that a hired killer (Morgan Freeman) and his team of assassins are tracking the duo’s every move.
39. Monday (2006, Spokane). A young man’s life changes when a new teacher comes to the school.
40. Dog Gone aka Diamond Dog (2007, Spokane and Cheney). A family comedy about young Owen (Luke Benward) who is in for adventure after taking in a runaway dog carrying millions of dollars in stolen gems.
41. Finding Bliss (2007, Spokane) A romantic comedy that explores the adult film industry through the eyes of an idealistic 25 year-old award winning film school grad. Staring Leelee Sobieski.
42. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2007, Spokane). Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) directs this film about an older Chinese man who comes to America to visit the recently divorced daughter he barely knows. Winner of “Best Movie” and “Best Actor” at the 2008 San Sebastian Film Festival.
43. The Family Holiday (2007, Spokane). A Dog. Two Kids. A Nanny & Loveable Con Man Unwrap The True Meaning of Christmas
44. Frank (2007, Spokane). A young urban family spends summers on an idyllic island. When an abandoned, mangy mutt wanders onto the property
45. Let Others Suffer (2007, Spokane). A group of hopeful filmmakers set out to make a movie about feminism.
46. Give ‘em Hell, Malone (2009, Spokane). Thomas Jane (Malone) is a tough private investigator who squares off with gangsters (Ving Rhames) and their thugs to protect a valuable secret.
47. Lies & Illusions (2009, Spokane). Best-selling author Wes Wilson (Christian Slater) has it all. But when smuggler Isaac (Cuba Gooding Jr.) enters the picture, Wilson’s perfect life falls apart. into a world of violence, espionage and stolen diamonds.
48. Wrong Turn at Tahoe (2009, Spokane). When local underground crime boss Vincent (Miguel Ferrer) betrays big-time drug dealer Nino (Harvey Keitel), he touches off a dangerous mob war. Cuba Gooding Jr. also stars.
49. Falling Up aka The Golden Door (2009). Henry O’Shea (Joseph Cross) quits nursing school to earn cash as a doorman at a posh New York apartment building, where he falls for lovely resident Scarlett Dowling (Sarah Roemer). As the pair’s relationship progresses, Henry’s sister (Rachael Leigh Cook) encourages the romance, but Scarlett’s mother has other ideas. Also featuring Snoop Dogg.
50. The Ward – Releases 2010 (2009, Spokane). A young woman, Kristen (Amber Heard), is sent to a mental institution with a past as dark and haunted as her own. Jared Harris (“Mad Men”) and Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th) also star.
51. The Joneses (2009, Spokane). The “perfect family” moves into town, but they’ve got secrets. Staring Demi Moore and David Duchovny.
52. Fight Life (2009, Spokane). A documentary about mixed martial arts featuring Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez, Frank Shamrock and more.
53. Blue Baloons (2009, Spokane, Cobert, Couer D’Alene). “The life of a young man is discovered through the sacrifice of another” (IMBD)
54. OyVey! My Son Is Gay! (2009, Spokane) Shirley and Martin Hirsch are dismayed when they find out their son is gay. A comedy staring Lainie Kazan, Saul Rubinek, Vincent Pastore, John Lloyd Young, Jai Rodriguez, Carmen Electra, Bruce Vilanch and Shelly Burch.
55. The Big Bang – Releases 2010 (2009, Spokane) Staring Antonio Banderas, James Van Der Beek and Autumn Reeser (Entourage and OC). An L.A. private detective is hired to find a missing stripper.
56. Perfect 10 (2010, Cheney). Mara, now hovering between the plus-size and regular-size worlds, leaves her husband at home and drags her friend to their ten-year reunion for a second chance with her unrequited first love.
57. Norman – (2010, Spokane) A troubled high-school kid pretending to be dying of cancer confronts problems with his new girlfriend and terminally ill father as he struggles with his daily existence. Dan Byrd and Emily VanCamp.
58. Exxxit: Life After Porn (2010, Spokane). A documentary following the lives of people involved in the adult industry.
59. Dan Cummins: Crazy with a Capital F (2010, Bing Crosby Theater: Spokane). Stand-up comedy routine filmed live in the Bing Crosby Theater.
60. 28 Hours Later: The Zombie Movie (2010, Spokane)A film crew is in the midst of making a zombie movie, when suddenly everything becomes very, very real. Action, comedy, horror.
61. Hit List (2010, Spokane). An action-thriller about a man (Cole Hauser) who bends a stranger’s (Cuba Gooding Jr.) ear during a night of drinking and accidentally sentences the people he complains about to die.
62. The River Murders/ River Sorrow (2011, Spokane). A dark thriller starring Ray Liotta, Christian Slater and Ving Rhames.
63. Camilla Dickinson (2011, Spokane). Fifteen-year-old Camilla Dickinson leads a sheltered life in New York City until her parents’ marriage begins to fall apart.
64. Knights of Badassdom (Not yet released, Spokane) Live-action role players conjure up a demon from hell by mistake and must deal with the consequences.
65. Thunderballs – (2011, Spokane) Follows three life-long friends who comprise a beer league bowling team called the ‘Thunderballs’. The show chronicles their efforts to balance their battle for supremacy at the lanes with their crazy personal and family lives.
We’ll keep updating these lists as we view movies and as new ones are filmed in the Spokane area. Thank you for all the comments helping us keep this up to date!
2009 was a big year for Spokane in film. Give ‘em Hell, Malone, Lies & Illusions, and Wrong Turn at Tahoe were all filmed in Spokane that year. And two out of the three featured Cuba Gooding Jr. The Bronx born actor seems to really enjoy filming in Spokane. The common denominator here is North by Northwest Productions; a Pacific Northwest company that has produced (exclusively or in part) all three of the Spokane movies staring Cuba Gooding Jr. (as well as many other films featured on the list). Up next for Spokane, Cuba Gooding Jr. and North by Northwest is the action/thriller Hit List. The plot goes something like this: “A disgruntled man creates a hit list with a stranger during a drunken night out and must then race to try to save those he marked for extermination as the bodies begin to pile up and all fingers point to him” (Imdb.com). Filming began in late February of 2010. This will be the fourth movie shot in Spokane featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. (End Game, Lies & Illusions, Wrong Turn at Tahoe and Hit List).
Update January, 2012
Matthew Modine (star of Vision Quest, 1985) visited Spokane to help raise money for The Milk Bottle and Ferguson’s Cafe. The two Spokane landmarks, which appeared in his movie, were badly damaged in fire September, 2010. Read the full story on The Spokesman Review.