Movies Starring The Midwest


Batman, roller dames and road warriors have all starred in movies filmed in the Midwest over the past few years. Here’s a walk of fame of Midwest-made pictures, picked by Team Gears and our Facebook friends. Got more? List them in the comments and we’ll add the most popular ones.

Film incentivized

The Dark Knight, 2008 (Filmed in Chicago and other global locations) Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker, with Christian Bale reprising the main role as Batman. Easily the most successful film ever made in the Midwest, it has earned over $1 billion internationally.

Whip It, 2009 (Ann Arbor and other Michigan locations) Actress Drew Barrymore’s directoral debut, the cast also includes Oscar nominee Ellen Page. The cast and crew were visible around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti during the summer of 2008.


Gran Torino, 2008 (Highland Park, Grosse Pointe Park, and other Michigan locations) Clint Eastwood starred as a retired auto worker coming to grips with his changing neighborhood. The original setting was Minneapolis, but the film was moved to Michigan because of its incentive program.


Up In The Air, 2009 (Romulus, Dearborn and other Michigan locations) George Clooney was nominated for an Oscar and the film received six overall nominations for his portrayal of a job-slashing road warrior determined to land in the most elite tier of frequent fliers. Clooney and other actors filmed in the international concourse at Detroit-Wayne County International Airport and at empty office buildings in Dearborn and elsewhere.


Modern Midwest Classics

Breaking Away, 1979 (Bloomington, IN) The story of four Indiana teens who don’t know what to do with their lives, the young stars included Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern in his first movies. The movie may be responsible for introducing many Americans to pro cycling. Filmed entirely on location in Bloomington, including scenes at Indiana University.

The Blues Brothers, 1980 (Chicago and other Illinois locations) Arguably the most famous movie to have been filmed on the streets of Chicago, the movie stars Saturday Night Live alums John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, who are on a mission to put their old band together and save the Catholic home where they were raised. One scene shows Jake and Elwood roaring over the 95th Street bridge on Chicago’s far south side, near Calumet Fisheries.


Continental Divide, 1981 (Chicago) An overlooked gem, the film stars Belushi as a Chicago newspaper columnist forced to flee town when he is beat up by the henchmen of a corrupt alderman. He winds up in the Rockies and in an unexpectedly sweet romance with ornithologist Blair Brown. Locations include the demolished Chicago Sun-Times Building, now site of the Trump International Hotel and Tower.


Home Alone, 1990 (Chicago and suburbs) McCauley Culkin became America’s most famous child star with the most imitated hands on cheek scream in this film, shot in Chicago and its suburbs. The John Hughes movie featured a house at 671 Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, IL; other scenes were filmed in the swimming pool at New Trier High School.


4 Replies to “Movies Starring The Midwest”

  1. There is along list on I recently looked it up when I was jonesing for Chicago. Supposedly the book The Time Traveler's Wife takes place in Chicago. Not sure if the movie was actually filmed there. What about Ferris Bueller? There are also the opening scenes in When Harry Met Sally. I tried to finish watching About Last Night, but I couldn't do it…I know it's Mamet and all, but sheesh.

  2. In your story yesterday about midwest movies, you had a clip from The Blues Brothers. The line “It's 106 miles to chicago, we gotta full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses” was edited to remove the reference to cigarettes. Why? This was not an anti-smoking piece. If you're going to reference a movie line, do it accurately. Are you going to edit Gone with the Wind's line “Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn” because of language content?

Leave a Reply