April 04, 2019

Films made in San Antonio that we can (or should) proudly claim

According to the Internet Movie Database, there are nearly 1,000 films and TV shows shot at least partly in San Antonio over the last 119 years. From a big-picture perspective, that’s a tiny drop in the bucket. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Alamo City doesn’t celebrate the projects it’s had the opportunity to host — from beloved biopics like Selena to lesser-known classics from the first half of the 20th century. Here is a look at 23 of San Antonio’s greatest cinematic hits as well as others we’re happy to introduce you to if you haven’t seen them yet.
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Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Eternal man-child Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) travels across the country, including to the Alamo in San Antonio, to search for his stolen bicycle. The comedy was director Tim Burton’s first feature film of his career. According to Kathy Rhoads, former director of the San Antonio Film Commission in the 1980s, she helped facilitate the trip downtown for Burton, Reubens, producer Bob Shapiro and director of photography Victor Kemper. The scenes actually featuring San Antonio add up to 20 seconds of the final film.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Eternal man-child Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) travels across the country, including to the Alamo in San Antonio, to search for his stolen bicycle. The comedy was director Tim Burton’s first feature film of his career. According to Kathy Rhoads, former director of the San Antonio Film Commission in the 1980s, she helped facilitate the trip downtown for Burton, Reubens, producer Bob Shapiro and director of photography Victor Kemper. The scenes actually featuring San Antonio add up to 20 seconds of the final film.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Miss Congeniality
Actress Sandra Bullock stars as Gracie Hart, an FBI agent who goes undercover as a pageant contestant to stop a domestic terrorist from bombing the event. In the scene that features San Antonio the most, Gracie performs in the talent portion of the pageant in front of the Alamo. Dressed in bloomers, she plays “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago on a set of water glasses. The film also stars Benjamin Bratt as FBI agent and Gracie’s love interest Eric Matthews. 
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Miss Congeniality
Actress Sandra Bullock stars as Gracie Hart, an FBI agent who goes undercover as a pageant contestant to stop a domestic terrorist from bombing the event. In the scene that features San Antonio the most, Gracie performs in the talent portion of the pageant in front of the Alamo. Dressed in bloomers, she plays “Lara’s Theme” from Doctor Zhivago on a set of water glasses. The film also stars Benjamin Bratt as FBI agent and Gracie’s love interest Eric Matthews.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Spy Kids
Directed by San Antonio native Robert Rodriguez, this adventure features a family of secret agents (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Peña Vega and Daryl Sabara) who must stop an evil villain from replacing all the world’s children with robots. The original 2001 film has spawned three sequels.
Photo courtesy of Dimension Films
Spy Kids
Directed by San Antonio native Robert Rodriguez, this adventure features a family of secret agents (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa Peña Vega and Daryl Sabara) who must stop an evil villain from replacing all the world’s children with robots. The original 2001 film has spawned three sequels.
Photo courtesy of Dimension Films
Selena
The iconic 1997 biopic Selena is the story of Texas-born Tejano star Selena Quintanilla, from her humble beginnings to her booming career up until her death. Catch her speaking at Central Library, singing in front of the Alamo and driving down Somerset Road in this flick.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Selena
The iconic 1997 biopic Selena is the story of Texas-born Tejano star Selena Quintanilla, from her humble beginnings to her booming career up until her death. Catch her speaking at Central Library, singing in front of the Alamo and driving down Somerset Road in this flick.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Cloak & Dagger
With small snippets of San Antonio’s landscape throughout the film, the Alamo City still proudly claims Cloak & Dagger as a very SA production. You’ll see shots of the Sunken Gardens, River Walk and other random downtown spots – including the Tower Life building – throughout the 1984 film. Davey Osborne, whose mother is dead and father doesn’t spend enough time with him, and his imaginary friend, a secret agent, are on the run when they come into possession of a spy group’s secret plans. Here’s an extra treat: SA native Henry Thomas stars as Davey just two years after his big break in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Cloak & Dagger
With small snippets of San Antonio’s landscape throughout the film, the Alamo City still proudly claims Cloak & Dagger as a very SA production. You’ll see shots of the Sunken Gardens, River Walk and other random downtown spots – including the Tower Life building – throughout the 1984 film. Davey Osborne, whose mother is dead and father doesn’t spend enough time with him, and his imaginary friend, a secret agent, are on the run when they come into possession of a spy group’s secret plans. Here’s an extra treat: SA native Henry Thomas stars as Davey just two years after his big break in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
8 Seconds
Filmed in parts of San Antonio, Boerne, Helotes and Seguin, 1994’s 8 Seconds is a very SA film. The late Luke Perry stars as bull riding champion Lane Frost with the film chronicling hsi 1987 PRCA Bull Riding World Champion, his marriage and friendships with Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert. One of the more recognizable scenes takes place at the bar at John T. Floore Country Store.
Photo via IMDB / 8 Seconds
8 Seconds
Filmed in parts of San Antonio, Boerne, Helotes and Seguin, 1994’s 8 Seconds is a very SA film. The late Luke Perry stars as bull riding champion Lane Frost with the film chronicling hsi 1987 PRCA Bull Riding World Champion, his marriage and friendships with Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert. One of the more recognizable scenes takes place at the bar at John T. Floore Country Store.
Photo via IMDB / 8 Seconds
Viva Max!
Released in 1969, Viva Max! is the comedic story of General Maximillian Rodrigues and his plan to reoccupy the Alamo in order to impress his girlfriend, unbeknownst to the troops who follow him. Scenes from the movie are set in downtown San Antonio outside of the Alamo. The film actually inspired the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, as well as other historical groups, to hold multiple protests in order to prevent filming, claiming the flick was “desecrating the memory” of the Alamo. This caused some scenes with a replicate of the Alamo to be filmed in Bracketville.
Photo via IMDB / Viva Max!
Viva Max!
Released in 1969, Viva Max! is the comedic story of General Maximillian Rodrigues and his plan to reoccupy the Alamo in order to impress his girlfriend, unbeknownst to the troops who follow him. Scenes from the movie are set in downtown San Antonio outside of the Alamo. The film actually inspired the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, as well as other historical groups, to hold multiple protests in order to prevent filming, claiming the flick was “desecrating the memory” of the Alamo. This caused some scenes with a replicate of the Alamo to be filmed in Bracketville.
Photo via IMDB / Viva Max!
The Sugarland Express
A crime drama directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, The Sugarland Express is the story of a woman who breaks her husband out of prison with the intention of kidnapping their son to bring their family back together. Scenes were shot at Harlandale Stadium and Northside ISD Stadium as well as in Converse and Floresville.The film was Spielberg’s  theatrical feature directorial debut and his first collaboration with famed composer John Williams.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
The Sugarland Express
A crime drama directed by none other than Steven Spielberg, The Sugarland Express is the story of a woman who breaks her husband out of prison with the intention of kidnapping their son to bring their family back together. Scenes were shot at Harlandale Stadium and Northside ISD Stadium as well as in Converse and Floresville.The film was Spielberg’s theatrical feature directorial debut and his first collaboration with famed composer John Williams.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
This Jim Carrey sequel follows the titular character as he and his capuchin monkey Spike travel to Africa to find the sacred Great White bat, which has gone missing. The comedy went on to earn a Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel. It’s well documented that Carrey himself wasn’t a fan of the film. Still, he earned $15 million to reprise the role. Alrighty then!
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
This Jim Carrey sequel follows the titular character as he and his capuchin monkey Spike travel to Africa to find the sacred Great White bat, which has gone missing. The comedy went on to earn a Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel. It’s well documented that Carrey himself wasn’t a fan of the film. Still, he earned $15 million to reprise the role. Alrighty then!
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
Blank Check
You’ll recognize Six Flags Fiesta Texas in this 1994 film. A youngster ends up with a check for $1 million and, obviously, goes ahead and spends it as a young boy would. But, there’s a catch – a group of gangsters are chasing him – and the check.
Photo via YouTube / Adan Garcia
Blank Check
You’ll recognize Six Flags Fiesta Texas in this 1994 film. A youngster ends up with a check for $1 million and, obviously, goes ahead and spends it as a young boy would. But, there’s a catch – a group of gangsters are chasing him – and the check.
Photo via YouTube / Adan Garcia