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So I’m watching Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,
and I’m reminded that the film was almost entirely shot in my hometown of Tucson, AZ.
When I moved to Minnesota
seven years ago I told myself I’d never look back at that dry, hot, and
basically dead landscape, or that dirty, boring city ever again. Yet, the film
did something that seven years of Thanksgiving visits couldn’t do – it made me
experience a tinge of throat lumpage that can only be attributed to home
sickness. In Alice (which was made in 1974, which tells you something about the
speed of progress in the city) Alice’s husband is killed in a car accident
under the 4th Ave. Bridge, where I was solicited for drugs
uncountable times throughout my teenage years (I just said no). Later in the film
Jodie Foster takes Tommy to Chicago Music Store to steal guitar strings, the
exact spot where my friends and I would regularly steal musical gear thirty
years later. The nostalgia didn’t last, but sparked enough of an interest in
the subject to write a quick blog entry about it.


I’m sure that folks living in L.A., San Francisco, New
York, Miami and Chicago are pretty jaded, and really couldn’t care less to have
their hometown featured on the big screen, but us backwater bumpkins can get
pretty excited at the prospect. I remember seeing the Final Fantasy movie in a Tucson theatre where the
crowd erupted in cheers at the mention of the city – which was then revealed to
be the spot where humanity made their last stand (or something, none of us were
really paying attention). Thanks in part to a Western back-lot (later turned
crappy theme park) called Old Tucson, there were actually quite a few movies
made in the desert area surrounding Tucson (including Sam Raimi’s The Quick and
the Dead and Trey Parker’s Cannibal: The Musical), and several movies were made
with-in the city limits in my lifetime.


There is a collection of movies (none of which I
particularly like) that strangely chronicle sections of my childhood on film. Revenge
of the Nerds was shot at a frat house my mother and grandparents had to avoid
while working in and around the U of A in 1984 (several years later I ended up
renting a house across the street). Then, in 1985, My Science Project was shot
in and around the high school nearest the house I grew up in. After that, in
1987, Can’t Buy Me Love was shot in part at the popular hang-out known as the
Tucson Mall, and on-location at Tucson
High School
, where I can
recognize the very spot I ate lunch almost every day my Senior Year.


Of course, even if you missed all these movies, you’re
sure to have seen part of the city in about a million music videos – the
airplane ‘bone yard’ outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (Tom Petty’s ‘Learning
to Fly’, for example), or in the wildly popular (ha) Nickelodeon TV series ‘Hey


In 1998 I moved to Phoenix
for a few years for art school (code for shitty tech school), and though my
interest in film increased, the recognizable landmarks on film were fewer and
further between. This is probably due in large part to the relatively anonymous
look of the city. The coolest news I got was that I was living across the
street from the mall where the final act of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
was shot. The Twin Cities have been my home since, which despite its general
size, doesn’t hold many interesting filming spots. Dario Argento shot one of
his two American made films here (the forgettable Trauma, which introduced his
daughter Asia trying to jump off the Smith
bridge), Bent Hammer’s (rancid) Bukowski
adaptation Factotum sees the cities doubling for L.A. (what?), and locals excitedly cite
Prince’s Purple Rain as the proto-Minneapolis movie.