- Published Date
- by Frank Wilkins
New Orleans is a unique city rich in alluring charm and old-world character, so it should be no surprise that The Crescent City has been the setting for many of Hollywood's best films in history.
Following is a list of the best movies set in New Orleans. Some on the list feature the city more than others, but to be considered, new Orleans must be central to the film's plot, be contained in the movie's title, or must be prominently displayed in the film's cinematography... or whatever other random reason we want to consider.
Oh, and if your favorite doesn't make the list, let us know about it in the discussion threads at the end of the article. Who knows, we may decide to include it.
The Big Easy (1986) - Stars Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin who display remarkable chemistry… in and out of their steamy lovemaking scenes. The hottest clothed love scene in movie history?
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009) - Say what you will about Nicolas Cage's acting abilities, but both he and the movie are actually pretty good.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) - Love Spike Lee or hate him, the value of this documentary can't be denied.
Blaze (1989) - Stars Paul Newman and Lolita Davidovich and tells the story of the latter years of Earl Long, a flamboyant governor of Louisiana. By the way, why has Louisiana had such flamboyant governors. Was nominated for an Oscar for its fantastic cinematography.
Angel Heart (1987) - Fantastic film starring Mickey Rourke and Robert DeNiro as Louis Cyphre (Lucifer). The big controversy of the time was The Cosby Show's Lisa Bonet and her steaming nude scenes. Squeaky-clean Denise Huxtable to Epiphany Proudfoot the nude voodoo priestess… overnight.
Cincinnati Kid (1965) - the all-star cast of Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret, Karl Malden; Tuesday Weld; Edward G. Robinson, Rip Torn, and Can Calloway headline this rambling, gambling story of a poker player attempting to prove himself in a high-stakes match against a long-time master of the game. By the way, the odds of the same poker hand appearing in the same deal are worse than 45-million-to-1.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - The list wouldn't be complete without this one. Vivien Leigh stars opposite Marlon Brando in what is widely considered Brando's best piece of work. Also included on our list of best and most famous movie quotes of all time
Pretty Baby (1978) - Sadly, it was a different day and time for cinema, that's why they were able to get away with extended nude scenes of Brooke Shields as the 14-year-old Violet.
Tightrope (1984) - Clint Eastwood stars in a police thriller… that's not a Dirty Harry flick.
Click images below to see comparison of current day scenes from the film - St Louis Cathedral and Clint Eastwood in the French Market.
In the Electric Mist (2008) - Tommy Lee Jones shines opposite John Goodman, Ned Beatty, Mary Steenburgen, and Peter Sarsgaard in this film about a detective in the deep South who is led into a series of surreal encounters with actors playing a troop of Confederate soldiers.
Deja Vu (2006) - Another twisty-turny Tony Scott thriller starring Denzel Washington. Pay attention and keep your head in the game or this one can get away from you.
Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953) - Lester (Bud Abbott) and Orville (Lou Costello) accidentally launch a rocket which is supposed to fly to Mars. Instead it goes to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Now that's comedy.
Banjo on My Knee (1936) - Barbara Stanwyck, Buddy Ebson, and Joel McCrea star in this classic mystery set in a shantytown in New Orleans.
Belle of the Nineties (1934) - The 1890's, silly. Mae West stars.
Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956) - Fess Parker stars in this film that wasn't all that good necessarily, but it began the era of commercial movie tie-ins. Fans bought up coon-skin caps, weapons and lunchboxes emblazoned with the outdoorsy icon's likeness.
Easy Rider (1969) - The late Dennis Hopper wrote, directed, and starred in this Oscar nominated biker flick that straddled its minuscule budget and rode the hippie counter-culture to the American Film Institute's 84th greatest movie of all time. By the way, Nawlins was the story's destination.
Click images below to see comparison of current day scenes from the film - Peter Fonda acid trip scene in St Louis Cemetery.
Hard Times (1975) - Charles Bronson. Enough said.
King Creole (1958) - The movie that Elvis Presley was filming when Uncle Sam called. He received a 60-day extension from the draft board to finish filming before he was inducted into the U.S. Army.
Click images below to see comparison of current day scenes from the film -Elvis Presley singing Crawfish from French Quarter balcony.
New Orleans (1947) - Not only does its title qualify it for the list, but it's also a damn fine film. Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday star.
Saratoga Trunk (1945) - Gary Cooper and Ingred Bergmen star in this classic romancer about an opportunistic Texas gambler and the exiled Creole daughter of an aristocratic family who join forces to achieve justice from the society that has ostracized them.
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) - Based on a Tennessee Williams play and stars Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift. The filmmakers were given special dispensation by the Breen office so that the homosexuality of Sebastian Venable could be "inferred, but not shown." Phobes!
The Toast of New Orleans (1950) - Norman Taurog directs Mario Lanza'a second film. It's a good one.
Walk on the Wild Side (1962) - With Jane Fonda as Kitty Twist, it has to be on our list.
Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) - Terrible movie, great title.
The Pelican Brief (1993) - Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington star in this adaptation of a John Grisham book.
Double Jeopardy (1999) - Was to star Jodie Foster and Greg Kinnear until Foster was replaced by Ashley Judd when she became pregnant and Kinnear passed the role to Tommy Lee Jones.
Click images below to see comparison of current day scenes from the film - Jackson Square, and Lafayette Cemetery funeral procession.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (2004) - Born from the novel of Anne Rice, this epic story of love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger stars Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis. Not really a vampire movie as much as it is an intellectually stimulating story involving vampires.
JFK (1991) - Yet another controversial Oliver Stone film, this one about the JFK assassination and the actions of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison who took it upon himself to launch his own investigation of the murder. Won 2 Oscars.
Live and Let Die (1973) - Roger Moore as James Bond in this strange but effective voodoo-themed plot involving tarot cards and the occult. Featured the sexy Jane Seymour as Bond girl, Solitaire.
A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004) - John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson star. Features a great soundtrack with songs by Willie King, Lonnie Pitchford, Grayson Capps, and Lightnin' Hopkins. Also included in our List of the Best Movie Soundtracks.
Ray (2004) - Jamie Foxx turned in an Oscar winning performance for his portrayal of soul singer Ray Charles. The film is the all-time number one biopic per screen average.
Hard Target (1993) - Jean-Claude Van Damme kicks some major butt all the while sporting a sweet 1993 mullet.
Click images below to see comparison of current day scenes from the film. Jean-Claude van Damme fighting in French Quarter streets.