Films Shot in D.C. That Aren’t Political or “The Exorcist”
July 25, 2022 @ 10:00am
When you think of films shot in D.C., your mind probably goes to “The Exorcist” or one of a thousand political dramas like “All The President’s Men,” “Lincoln,” “A Few Good Men,” whatever. Plenty of other films that have little to nothing to do with politics or demonic possession have shot here, so we decided to throw the spotlight on a notable few.
James L. Brooks’ dramedy masterpiece, the sprawling story of a love triangle that slowly develops between a trio of newscasters with conflicting perspectives on their profession, was shot in and around D.C. Residential D.C. is featured prominently, including shots of Albert Brooks’ character’s home in Capitol Hill, Holly Hunter’s cozy house on Hillyer Place and William Hurt’s apartment just south of Meridian Hill Park on New Hampshire Avenue, as well as iconic locations like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, BWI and the JW Marriott Hotel. Come for the myriad establishing shots of D.C., stay for the artfully portrayed romance.
One of the best parts of any of the three or four Spider-Man movies that seem to come out each year is watching Spidey use his environment in inventive, thrilling ways, right? The well-liked 2017 Tom Holland Spider-Man outing, “Homecoming,” sees high schooler Peter Parker heading to D.C. for a academic decathlon, only to be distracted by his Great Responsibilities, which end up culminating in an extended rescue scene set at (and on) the Washington Monument. As you might expect from Spidey, high flying thrills and snarky one-liners abound.
“Strangers on a Train”
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 psychological thriller “Strangers on a Train” follows a man who inadvertently gets involved with a violent psychopath who is convinced the two agreed to commit murder on each other’s behalf. Farley Granger plays Guy Haines, a tennis player trying to avoid Robert Walker’s dangerous Bruno Anthony, and in a scene that cranks the film’s anxiety and paranoia to a fever pitch, Guy finds himself stalked by Bruno around D.C. He pops up at numerous landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and National Gallery of Art.
The Kevin Bacon invisible man movie directed by Dutch master Paul Verhoeven was a disappointing followup to the brutal antifascist satire “Starship Troopers.” The film is a sort of drab, sometimes gripping, always icky thriller that really hones in on the voyeuristic creep elements of invisibility’s effects on a man. Expect mostly exterior and establishing shots of beautiful row houses, the Capitol Building, and other generic D.C. imagery. But “Hollow Man” does hold the unique distinction of being one of the only movies to have filmed directly in front of the Pentagon, a privilege that is usually denied to most productions.
“Burn After Reading”
Perhaps the closest thing to a “political” film we’re going to touch on here, the wildly underrated dark comedy “Burn After Reading” features an ensemble cast of Coen Brothers favorites and top-tier actors. George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovitch, Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins play some of the dumbest, most obnoxious, arrogant, self-involved characters ever portrayed on film, and you can tell everyone had an absolute blast doing so. While the film was mostly shot in New York City out of convenience, some key exterior scenes were shot on location, including a masterstroke of comic paranoiac filmmaking set in the National Mall, featuring Clooney at his panicked best.