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An image taken during the filming of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters at Six Flags New Orleans | © Jdarn010/WikiCommons
An image taken during the filming of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters at Six Flags New Orleans | © Jdarn010/WikiCommons

The 7 Best New Orleans Movies To Check Out Before Visiting The City

Picture of Rebeca Trejo
Updated: 7 October 2016
New Orleans has become known nationally recognized as the ‘Hollywood of the South’ due to its authentic Creole architecture, multicultural history, unique old-world character and generous post-Katrina tax rebate. Even though its recent popularity, which has been key to the area’s recovery after Hurricane Katrina made landfall at the upper end of Category 3 intensity, comes recently, the Crescent City has fostered movie-like settings, where the movie industry has been able to produce many of their most critically acclaimed productions.

A real-life movie set since its 1718 inception, here are the seven best New Orleans-based/inspired movies:

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Based on a 1976 novel by New Orleans native, Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire is a 1994 drama horror film produced by Irish film director, Neil Jordan. This film, which was nominated for two Oscars and won 19 awards independently, tells an epic vampire story where love, betrayal, loneliness and hunger take Louis de Pointe du Lac, a young indigo plantation owner played by protagonist Brad Pitt on a haunting adventure through the south of New Orleans. The film chronicles Pitt’s character sharing his heartbreaking story – in search of redemption – with a San Francisco newspaper reporter, and how he became a vampire at the hands of the evil Lestat, played by Tom Cruise, in the year 1791.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Based on a play by 20th-century playwright and author Tennessee Williams and with screenplay by Gore Vidal, Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern gothic mystery film that takes place in New Orleans during 1937. Directed by Academy-Award winner Joseph Leo Mankiewicz and produced by independent film producer Sam Spiegel, the movies plot centers on Catherine Holly, played by the iconic Elizabeth Taylor, being psychologically harassed by her wealthy New Orleans aunt Violet Veneble, played by Katharine Hepburn, who is tries to silence her with a lobotomy after she witnessed her only son’s death.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Loosely based on a 1922 short story by American novelist and short story writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 romantic fantasy drama directed by David Fincher that chronicles how protagonist, Benjamin Button, played by Brad Pitt, experiences bizarre consequences when he starts to age backwards as time progresses, and how Daisy Fuller (Cate Blanchett), Pitt’s love interest in the movie, welcomes her death – by remembering her lover’s words through his diary – at a hospital in New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches. Shot across New Orleans The Curious Case of Benjamin Button received 13 Academy Award nominations, and won three for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

King Creole (1958)

Directed by Michael Curtiz and produced by Hal B. Wallis, American film producer best remembered for his work on Casablanca, King Creole is the story of 19-year-old high school student Danny Fisher, played by Elvis Presley, who works tirelessly at a crappy New Orleans joint as a busboy before and after school to help support his unemployed father and sister, until one night he gets a chance to perform as a singer and delivers unmatchable chords and style to the cheering crowd. Based on the 1952 novel by Harold Robbins A Stone for Danny Fisher, this movie takes place in the French Quarter and depicts a beautiful frame of 1958 New Orleans.

The Big Easy (1986)

An American crime drama directed by Jim McBride and written by Daniel Petrie Jr., The Big Easy is a movie set in New Orleans during 1987. The plot centers on NOLA homicide lieutenant Remy McSwain, played by Dennis Quaid, is caught accepting payoffs in an Internal Affairs sting. State district attorney Anne Osborne, who also plays his love interest in the movie, follows the case closely from the D.A.’s office and finds out she has to prosecute him. The film, which was later adapted for a television series for two seasons, opens with an aerial shot of the New Orleans bayou and the Cajun band BeauSoleil playing Zydeco Gris Gris, and features well-know locations, including Tipitina’s, Antoine’s and the French Quarter Strip, as well as Mardi Gras parade floats.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)

A Spike Lee documentary film first aired on HBO during August 2006, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which won three Primetime Emmys, is a four act depiction of the devastation suffered in New Orleans, Louisiana following the levees’ failure during Hurricane Katrina, and an examination of the U.S. government’s role and response to the disaster. Describe by Sheila Nevis, chief at HBO’s documentary unit, as one of the most important films HBO has ever produced, the documentary includes interviews with politicians, journalist, historians, engineers and many residents of the flooded areas, who share first-hand accounts of their experiences during and post levee failure.

JFK (1991)

Directed by American film director, screenwriter and producer William Oliver Stone, JFK is a 1991 historical legal conspiracy thriller that examines how a New Orleans DA, played by Kevin Costner, discovers that there are more details to the Kennedy assassination than the official story would suggest. Adapted from the books On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison and Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs, the film resulted in controversy when major American newspapers accused Stone of taking liberties with historical facts. These included Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson’s implication in Kennedy’s murder. Earning $205 million in worldwide gross, the film won two Academy Awards and earned Stone a Golden Globe for best director.

By Rebeca Trejo