Among the movies made in Reno and around the Reno / Lake Tahoe region, you will recognize a number of famous titles, actors, and actresses. In some films, Reno and/or the surrounding area were an integral part of the story, while in other movies the Reno connection is not so obvious. As is inevitable with film making, some made in Reno movies were bombs and quite forgettable.
1961 - The Misfits was filmed in Reno, with some scenes shot in nearby Dayton, Stagecoach, and at Pyramid Lake. This movie, the last by both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, also features Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, and Montogomery Clift. The plot revolves around the relationship between a divorcée (Monroe), aging ex-cowboy (Gable), and the other characters - a bunch of misfits. There is a scene where Monroe, following her divorce in the Washoe County Courthouse, walks to the Virginia Street Bridge and tosses her wedding ring in the Truckee River. This is perhaps where the legends about throwing wedding rings off the bridge began. Both the Virginia Street Bridge and Washoe County Courthouse are still there. Directed by John Huston.
1989 - In Pink Cadillac, Clint Eastwood plays bounty hunter Tommy Nowak. He and Lou Ann (Bernadette Peters) get chased around the West by a bunch of bad-guy white supremacists who have kidnapped her baby and are trying to retrieve the counterfeit money hidden in Lou Ann's pink Cadillac, which she had stolen from her ex-husband. Anyway, they end up passing through northern Nevada, with scenes filmed downtown around the Reno Arch, at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, and in Carson City, Hazen, Fallon, and Fernley. The world premiere played at Harrah's Reno. Jim Carrey and Bryan Adams briefly appear in the movie. Directed by Buddy Van Horn.
1986 - In Top Gun, Tom Cruise plays Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a Naval aviator who ends up training at the Navy's Top Gun fighter school. The school is for real and is based at Naval Air Station Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno. Aerial action scenes were filmed at Fallon and received rave reviews. The story is about Mitchell's flying and, of course, falling in love with a woman instructor. Top Gun also stars Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, and Tom Skerritt. Directed by Tony Scott.
1996 - I've seen Kingpin and thought it was well done and really funny. The plot involves a washed up pro bowler (Woody Harrelson) who latches on to an Amish bowling phenom (Randy Quaid) with the idea of making lots of money. In the process, the Amish guy learns about the world's vice and temptations. The big showdown at the end takes place in Reno's National Bowling Stadium. Other scenes were shot in the Silver Legacy Hotel Casino. Also starring Bill Murray and Vanessa Angel. Directed by the Farrelly brothers.
1976 - The Shootist was John Wayne's last movie. The Duke plays John Bernard (J. B.) Books, an aging gunfighter with terminal cancer who has come to Carson City to die. Before that happens, a bunch of other gunfighters show up looking to extract revenge and/or become famous by killing the famous shootist. Meanwhile, a romance develops between J.B. and Bond Rogers (Lauren Bacall), the landlady at the boarding house where he is staying. During the last big shootout at the end, J.B. takes out several gunslingers before being fatally wounded himself. Other locations used in the movie include Washoe Lake State Park and Jack's Valley west of Carson City. Also starring Ron Howard, Harry Morgan, and James Stewart. Directed by Don Siegel.
1992 - In Sister Act, Whoopi Goldberg plays Deloris, a lounge singer in Reno. Her boyfriend, mobster Vincent "Vince" LaRocca (Harvey Keitel), orders a hit, which Deloris witnesses. After agreeing to testify against Vince, Deloris hides as Sister Mary Clarence at a San Francisco convent. She joins the choir and injects her lively lounge ways into its performances. A corrupt cop learns Sister Mary Clarence's identity and finks to Vince, who has her and another nun kidnapped. The whole convent then heads to Reno on a rescue mission. Of course, the mobsters are caught, the nuns freed, and Deloris leads the nuns in song in front of the Pope. Other actors are Maggie Smith, Bill Nunn, Kathy Najimy, and Wendy Makkena. Directed by Emile Ardolino.
Clear and Present Danger
1994 - Harrison Ford plays CIA analyst Jack Ryan in Clear and Present Danger, a thriller featuring murdering Colombian drug cartels and American agents gone bad. The involved plot revolves around covert and illegal ops by the U.S. president and his flunkies, battles with drug lords, and ultimately Ryan uncovering the whole mess. The bad guys eventually get caught, but not before some of the good guys go down. The Naval Air Station in Fallon was one of the locations used to film this movie. Also stars Willem Dafoe, Ann Archer, and James Earl Jones. Directed by Phillip Noyce.
2010 - Starring Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, Love Ranch is loosely based on the story of Joe Conforte, owner/operator of the Mustang Ranch, Nevada's first legal brothel. The movie includes scenes filmed in downtown Reno, on Virginia Street next to the Reno Arch.