Philadelphia has a rich history and the City of Brotherly Love has many classics to choose from, including way more than just 5 movies set in Philadelphia. From the historical locations from the American Revolution to the popular sports teams to an iconic symbol, these films paint their stories with the legendary history of this classic American town. Of course, you also have to throw in a ghost story for good measure.
“Philadelphia” – Before you start talking about movies set in Philadelphia, you can’t skip the one named afte the town. “Philadelphia” is a drama starring Tom Hanks as an attorney fired because he develops AIDS and then hires an attorney, played by Denzel Washington, to represent him in a wrongful termination lawsuit. The movie was the start of Tom Hanks’ dominance at the Oscars and helped the one-time funny man turn into a super serious lead man.
“Invincible” – Marky Mark continued to make his breakthrough into feature films when he took on this true life story of Vince Papale, a 3-year old bartender who tried out and made the Philadelphia Eagles team in 1976. In one of my top 5 movies set in Philadelphia, Mark Wahlberg helped this story of a Philadelphia native done good become a true inspiration despite the fact that the real man only serves as a footnote in Philadelphia football history. More important was Mark’s continued efforts to shake his funky reputation.
“National Treasure” – “National Treasure” is one movie set in Philadelphia that was made simply as a cash-grabbing effort by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actor Nic Cage. The movie takes the rich history of Philadelphia and throws Cage’s treasure hunter into the middle of a silly adventure that sweep him through the Franklin Institute and Independence Hall. The movie wants to be a modern da Indiana Jones but ends up being a mindless, albeit fun, bubblegum action flick.
“Rocky” – One of the main tourist points for people visiting the City of Brotherly Love is the most iconic scene in any movie set in Philadelphia. When Rocky Balboa is training for his big fight, he starts running through the streets of Philly and soon men, children and dogs are running with him. He finally turns on the jets and races up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where he stands, arms raised in victory. There is now a statue at the top of the steps commemorating this moment and every year, numerous people make that same run up the steps to remember this great sports movie.
“The Sixth Sense” – “The Sixth Sense” might not scream Philadelphia but it is grounded in the historic town. This great ghost story stars Bruce Willis who meets a young boy who claims to be able to see ghosts. Willis’ character is a child psychologist in Philadelphia who is trying to get past an incident with a former patient who shot him and finds himself with only this little boy to talk to as he tries to reconnect with his now estranged wife. It is one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best movies and this movie set in Philadelphia remains one of the best ghost stories of its era.