You may have started watching HBO's latest mini-series "We Own This City starring Jon Bernthal (The Punisher), Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country), Jamie Hector (Marlo, "The Wire") and Baltimore native Josh Charles (Sports Night). The series produced by David Simon focuses on the true story of a corrupt Baltimore city PD task force.
The series was very active filming around the city last summer. Shoot, they filmed a block up from my street and parked a big ass trailer right in front of my house.
Watching the show and seeing Baltimore areas got me thinking about movies that were actually filmed in Baltimore.
The city of Baltimore is known for alot of things, some positive most of it unfairly negative. One often overlooked positive is how it is a great backdrop for films.
It's often an overlooked aspect of filmmaking unless the plot is dependent on it, but what city a film is set in is a important component of making movies. It sets a tone and can assist in driving home the message of a movie. Now Baltimore may not be in the conversation with LA, New York, or Atlanta when it comes to movies being filmed here.
However, the city is no slouch with Hollywood depictions, there are several films out there you may not realize were filmed in Baltimore. Oftentimes it's a stand in for D.C. since filmmakers don't have to deal with the challenges of filming in the nation's capital. Other times it's a stand in for other cities (Major League II, The Replacements). The best times though, are when a film is actually set here. Hollywood get's the most bang for it's buck when it accurately depicts the city for it's beauty,, quirkiness nd grim.
I've compiled a list of five films I think really exemplify and made the city it's own character. Note, this list is strictly about movies so The Wire and Homicide: Life On The Street two great TV series, where the city was a major character just as much if not more than the actors of the shows are omitted.
5. Liberty Heights
Released in 1999, Liberty Heights is one of Baltimore native Barry Levinson's "Baltimore films". This film follows a Jewish teenager Ben (Ben Foster) observing and living life in the 1950's as his father has a role with the mob and under close watch by the feds, his school has recently integrated, and he falls for a fellow student Sylvia who is Black.
Baltimore neighborhoods particularly the Liberty Heights area are highlighted in the film. Druid Hill Park was a filming location. Pennsylvania Ave and the famed Royal Theater which was the Black mecca in Baltimore during the 50's and 60's is depicted. Famed Baltimore gangster Lil' Melvin is even portrayed in the film by Orlando Jones. My family lived in the Liberty Heights area for years spanning multiple generations, and as a kid it was very cool to see an area I was familiar with in a Hollywood movie.
4. He's Just Not That Into You
This 2009 film bought alot of star power to Baltimore. Starring Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johannson, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Jennifer Connolly, Kevin Connolly and Jennifer Aniston. They came together for a romantic comedy above love and life and is actually a decent rom-com movie.
The movie follows different characters in different stages of relationships. More importantly it shows quite a few areas of Baltimore. Fells Point, Brewer's Hill, Mount Vernon, water taxis around the Harbor, Canton, and the famous Domino Sugar sign. Local beer Natty Boh is heavily shown in many bar scenes. This movie maybe almost 13 years old but its actually a great advertisement for Baltimore and it's charm.
Diner is basically Barry Levinson's love letter to his youth and the city that made him. Released in 1982 and set in the 1950's the film covers a group of friends who love to frequent a Fells Point diner. It's at the diner where they love french fries and gravy and debating over roast beef sandwiches on rye.
Local TV station WBAL is name dropped. The main characters stan the Baltimore Colts, which a humorous subplot involving a marriage is dependent on the Colts is included. Fells Point, overview shots of a pre Inner Harbor harbor, Camden Station and other Baltimore landmarks are prominent. The movie is very Seinfeldish in that it really has no plot, it just follows a group of friends experiencing different situations in life. If you've ever hung out with your friends agitated one another simply to debate, and done some wild and random shit in your youth, you'll appreciate the movie.
2. Charm City Kings
Starring Meek Mill, Ja'hani Wiston, and Baltimore dirt bike legend Chino Braxton. The movie highlights the dirt bike culture of Baltimore. How much work goes into building dirt bikes and learning the craft of riding one. It also provides clues on why dirt bike riders are considered Superheroes to inner city kids.
It has little nuances like the Baltimore accent where we say "doug" or "dug" instead of dog. Beloved UTZ crab chips are displayed a few times and two characters eating not quite a 4 wings and fries chicken box but almost there. It also showed everyday Baltimore neighborhoods, dipilated housing and all that natives would recognize or snap their fingers and be like damn I know that area.
John Waters has set all of his films in Baltimore, and made all efforts to show the quirks of the city. From Pink Flamingo to Serial Mom, and Pecker, John Waters will show just how off many residents in different phases and demographics of life. The 2007 musical film of Hairspray does a wonderful job of making Baltimore it's own character in the film. It's opening song is even a catchy ode of a song to Baltimore
As great as that movie is, it mainly was filmed in Toronto, Canada. The nod here however goes to the original 1988 film starring Ricki Lake. For actually being filmed in the city, and showing many landmarks,quirks and Baltimore slang of the 1960s. Love or hate the film or the director, you cant hate his love for his hometown.
If your curious about the various movies and TV shows filmed in Baltimore click here
About The Author
B is a 1500 original since 2017. He loves movies, pro wrestling, and traveling. His dream is to one day be able to travel around the world at his leisure. He also is a pro wrestling blogger for his brand at talkinsuplexes.com. He also has a geek branded blog at ablogbyb.blogspot.com. Follow him on IG @storybyb where you may find some of the most random questions and polls known to man.