We’re no Hollywood, but Wisconsin has made an appearance in many noteworthy movies. From being set in Wisconsin to just having a small mention, several Tinseltown flicks have put Wisconsin on the map. Here are just a few:
As films go, it doesn’t get much bigger than this Hollywood blockbuster. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack Dawson, hails from Chippewa Falls and recalls ice fishing back home on Lake Wissota. Lake Wissota, however, is a man-made lake that wasn’t filled until 1917…five years after the Titanic sank. We’re still thankful for the mention, though.
Much of this movie was filmed in downtown Milwaukee, where Kristen Wiig’s character resides, including Annie’s apartment on South Kinnickinnic Avenue, the jewelry store on W. Mitchell Street, and the bar on West Cameron Avenue.
- Amityville Horror
While the actual Amityville Horror house can be found in New York, the home used in this 2005 remake is on Silver Lake Rd. in Salem, Wis. The Wohlford estate dates back four generations to 1910, and was fitted with a $60,000 fake façade for the movie. The home recently sold for $1 million.
- The Blues Brothers
This 1980 classic was filmed mostly around Chicago, but one particular scene (you know, the one where the car hangs off the bridge?) was filmed on the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge in Milwaukee.
- Major League
Though the film follows the Cleveland Indians, all of the stadium scenes were shot at County Stadium in Milwaukee, and with no Milwaukee baseball scene complete without him, Bob Uecker played the Indians’ Several outdoor scenes were shot in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, and some interior shots were filmed at a home on the corner of Kilbourn and Cass.
None of Anchorman was filmed in Wisconsin, but a pretty iconic line came from the movie. “Baxter, is that you? Baxter! Bark twice if you’re in Milwaukee.” Again, we’ll take any mention we can get.
- Love Actually
Can’t you just hear “Wisconsin” in Colin’s excited British accent? While none of the filming takes place in the U.S, let alone in Wisconsin, we do make quite the cameo. In the film, Colin flies into “Milwaukee International Airport” and then heads to a “typical Wisconsin bar”. I guess we are just classic Americana.
- That Thing You Do!
The musical film starring Tom Hanks follows a Pennsylvania rock band as their stardom grows. They’re in the midst of touring state fairs across the Midwest, and when in Wisconsin, the band is mobbed by fans. As girls climb onto their car, one of the band members states, “I like Wisconsin.” Us too, kid. Us too.
- Tommy Boy
Chris Farley’s character must know Milwaukee pretty well, as he’s on the seven-year plan at Marquette University. His lack of leadership skills when taking over the family business is not indicative, however, of Marquette’s quality of education in real life. Disclaimer.
- Wayne’s World
In the famous exchange between Wayne and Alice Cooper, we learn that Milwaukee is Algonquin for “the good land.” Who knew Wayne’s World was so…educational?
- The Prince and Me
Fairly certain every girl in Wisconsin dreamed of marrying a prince after seeing this movie. Julia Styles’ character is a student at UW-Madison and unknowingly winds up dating a Danish prince who also attends UW (but under a different name). She even takes him back to her hometown of Manitowoc for Thanksgiving. Though, the green grass and leafy trees tells me it wasn’t actually filmed in Wisconsin in November.
- Public Enemies
Did you know that real-life gangsters often fled to Wisconsin during the prohibition era? John Dillinger had a shootout with the FBI in Manitowish Waters (where, at Little Bohemia Lodge, you can still find bullet holes and items left behind). Scenes were filmed in Milwaukee, Madison, Manitowish Waters, Oshkosh, Beaver Dam, Columbus and Darlington.
- The American President
Though no presidents have yet hailed from Wisconsin, one of the more famous movie-Presidents has. Michael Douglas’ character is a former Wisconsin Governor who previously taught history at the University of Wisconsin and is a big Green Bay Packers fan.
- Up in the Air
In a film that focuses on travel and, well, constantly being up in the air, we learn that George Clooney’s character grew up in a town near Waupaca. He returns for his sister’s wedding and, like many Wisconsinites who leave their small town, realizes the value of growing up in such a place.
- Cheaper by the Dozen II
Okay, this movie might not be the talk of the town, and it hasn’t won tons of awards, but it’s Wisconsin in a nutshell. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt’s characters have 12 children and, in an effort to bring their family together for a memorable vacation, they bring them to Lake Winnetka, Wisconsin. And I think a fun-filled, memorable weekend on a Wisconsin lake is something we can all relate to.
Wisconsin may not be known for film sets, movie stars and all things glamorous, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the occasional appearance on the big screen. Have any movies to add to this list? Let us know on social media using #discoverwisconsin!
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Having grown up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. Watch Discover Wisconsin TV Saturday mornings at 10 on Fox Sports Wisconsin. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)
Back to School had scenes filmed in Madison.
Bird on a Wire
#discoverwisconsin Bird on a Wire with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. They make a stop in Racine. Although being someone who lives in Racine it is clearly not filmed here.
A Simple Plan starring Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton filmed some scenes in Ashland County...also I think Chain Reaction starring Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman filmed some scenes in Madison.
Feed The Fish - Filmed in Door
Cedar Rapids - based on character from Brown Valley, WI
The Great Outdoors - Based on a Wisconsin Vacation and featured Point Beer.
John Candy's The Great Outdoors is supposedly a vacation in Wisconsin. A League of Their Own has a Racine team playing the Rockford Peaches. Home Alone has John Candy, as Gus Polinski, Polka King of the Mid-West, is trying to get back to Kenosha.
Laverne and Shirley was a sitcom about Milwaukee. Henry Winkler, The Fonz from Happy Days was from Milwaukee, Fred McMurry of My Three Sons, a sitcom, Follow Me Boys, and several other movies was from Beaver Dam.