Pop culture is the mirror of society, so what does that mirror say about the Sunshine State? Grab the popcorn, and take a look at our favorite films starring Florida.
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall make cinematic magic in this film-noir classic, directed by John Huston and filmed partially on site in Rock Harbor. Drama ensues when a visiting Bogey encounters a notorious gangster and a nasty hurricane — while managing to find the time to fall in love and save the day. What’s a vacation without a happy ending?
Easy to Love
Esther Williams is a performer looking for love at Cypress Gardens in this pic, which inspired the video for the song Vacation by the Go-Go’s. Though Cypress Gardens closed as a theme park in 2009, its botanical garden has been preserved and can be visited inside Legoland Florida.
Where The Boys Are
The spring-break classic — famous for its Connie Francis-sung theme song — still fuels collegiate dreams of vacation romance to this day. The movie helped make Fort Lauderdale a vacation destination. A so-called “sequel” of the movie was made in the ’80s – Where The Boys Are ’84 – but critics panned it for its low-brow humor.
Stranger Than Paradise
Art-house auteur Jim Jarmusch made his name with this dry black-and-white film, which culminates with a visit to an elderly aunt in Melbourne. Stranger Than Paradise is considered a cult classic and was voted the Best Picture of 1984 by the National Society of Film Critics.
Florida retirement-home residents find the fountain of youth in the form of a mysterious swimming pool in this Ron Howard-directed flick. Cocoon was shot in and around St. Petersburg and included scenes at the St Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, The Coliseum and Snell Arcade buildings. The movie won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Don Ameche) and for Best Visual Effects.
This La Cage aux Folles remake works perfectly in Miami Beach, with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as the campy gay couple playing it straight. According to reports after the movie’s release, director Mike Nichols asked both Williams and Lane to film at least one take of each scene as it was scripted before allowing them to improvise.
This look at Miami’s cocaine wars of the 1980s captures actor Al Pacino in a career- defining moment as kingpin Tony Montoya, and causes an uproar among Cuban exiles for its violent portrayal of the Mariel boatlift crisis. Though it’s set in Miami, the majority of Scarface was shot in Los Angeles because of the danger of protests by Cuban-Americans over the movie’s subject matter.
The Right Stuff
This multi-Oscar-winning look at the early Space Race and NASA’s Project Mercury astronauts is based on the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe. Today, the Kennedy Space Center is still the No. 1 visitor attraction on the Space Coast.
The Truman Show
Jim Carrey is an unwitting celebrity in this take on reality TV, beautifully filmed in Seaside, a master-planned community located in Florida’s panhandle between Panama City Beach and Destin. Many of the movie’s 300 extras were residents of Seaside.
Tampa’s Ybor City nightlife takes the spotlight in the form of under-clothed Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. According to the Tampa Bay Times, locations around Tampa Bay were insisted upon by Tatum, whose experiences as a teenaged stripper in Tampa – under the stage name “Chan Crawford” – inspired the movie.
– Updated Feb. 24, 2017