Jul 14, 2023 - News

5 most memorable movie scenes filmed in Cleveland

Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox pose for a photo in the 1980s.

A match made in rock 'n' roll heaven. Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

No one is going to mistake Cleveland for Hollywood, but the city once called "The Mistake on the Lake" has its fair share of movie success stories.

5. "Major League" opening credits

Charlie Sheen in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
Wild thing! Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images

The first three minutes of "Major League" are a showcase for downtown Cleveland even if the rest of the movie isn't.

Details: The 1989 movie about a ragtag group of Cleveland Indians players was filmed in Milwaukee for lower production costs and the inability to work around the Indians' and Browns' schedules at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

  • Still, "Major League" opens with a shot of the Guardians of Traffic monument, followed by a montage of downtown that will tug at any longtime Clevelanders' heartstrings.

Of note: The credits feature the song "Burn On" by Randy Newman, a reference to the infamous Cuyahoga River fire of 1969.

4. "Light of Day" at Euclid Tavern

Joan Jett, Michael J. Fox and the cast of "Light of Day."
The Barbusters. Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

"Light of Day" ā€” the 1987 film starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett ā€” has a special place in Clevelanders' hearts.

Details: Director Paul Schrader based the fictional band in the movie on popular Cleveland punk act the Generators.

  • After seeing the Generators perform at Euclid Tavern, Schrader decided the venue was perfect for a scene featuring Fox and Jett's fictional band The Barbusters.

Of note: To celebrate the premiere of "Light of Day," Jett and the Blackhearts performed at Phantasy Theater in Lakewood on Feb. 1, 1987.

  • They were joined on the last two songs by Fox.

3. Avengers assemble

I am Iron Man. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

The climactic battle at the end of 2012's "The Avengers" is set in New York, but all the CGI destruction takes place near East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.

Details: The scene lasts more than 30 minutes and starts with Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow jumping out of a plane onto Walnut Avenue.

  • Other highlights include Thor battling aliens in front of the Medical Mutual building, Captain America blasting through a window in the Ameritrust Tower (now The 9 Cleveland) and Hulk smashing everything in sight.

2. "The Deer Hunter" wedding reception

The cast of "The Deer Hunter" during the wedding scene.
A party for the ages. Photo: Universal/Getty Images

You might be surprised to learn an Oscar-winner for Best Picture was filmed in Cleveland.

Details: Several scenes in 1978's "The Deer Hunter" were filmed here, including the opening steel factory shots and wedding scene at St. Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral on Starkweather Avenue.

Of note: Filming got so wild, actors Robert DeNiro and John Cazale accidentally fell over due to the amount of alcohol they consumed.

  • Producers found the moment so authentic, they kept it in the film.

1. Ho! Ho! Ho!

The scene with Ralphie and Santa from "A Christmas Story."
Santa knows best. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

"A Christmas Story" is set in 1940 Indiana, but the movie is truly a snapshot of early 1980s Cleveland, with a museum to prove it.

  • In one of the the film's iconic scenes, the Parker family attends a holiday parade shot at Higbee's department store in Public Square before heading inside to see Santa.

Of note: Higbee's vice president R. Bruce Campbell was a key figure in bringing "A Christmas Story" to Cleveland when he agreed to provide filmmakers full access to the store.

Worth your time: The Greater Cleveland Film Commission will host a three-day, 40th anniversary "A Christmas Story" event at Public Auditorium in November.

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