Denver is ready for its close-up. The city is a natural for the silver screen with colorful cityscapes along with the Rocky Mountain backdrop. Here are some of Denver's screen credits from movies and TV shows.
From director Ben Makinen comes "JazzTown" (2021), a 92-minute documentary made entirely by one person. Makinen uses cinema to "tell a universal story of the musicians’ struggle to remain relevant in a brutal marketplace that leaves many artists living in poverty while only a few are able to breathe the rarified air of great success." The film features interviews with, and performances by, Grammy winner Dianne Reeves, Ron Miles, Charles Burrell, Freddy Rodriguez Sr. and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, plus appearances by more than 50 Colorado musicians. The documentary has piled up quite a few awards such as best director, San Diego Movie Awards; best picture, Rome Movie Awards; and best soundtrack, New Orleans Second Line Film Festival.
In "The Glenn Miller Story" (1954), Jimmy Stewart stars as the legendary bandleader. Because Miller hailed from Fort Morgan, Colorado, the production filmed several scenes at locations in Colorado, including Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, Lowry Air Force Base, and a gas station on Colfax Avenue.
In "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978), Clint Eastwood and Clyde the orangutan wander around on Colfax Avenue. It stands in for Albuquerque (the neon sign for the legendary Sid King's Crazy Horse Bar is visible) and later plays itself at the since-shuttered Zanza Bar, a honky-tonk that drew national acts, in Aurora.
In the Tarantino-tinged "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995), a motley crew roams its titular city, with Andy Garcia, Treat Williams, Christopher Lloyd, Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi in the cast. Notable locations include Denver Union Station and the Bluebird Theater.
In Netflix's "Our Souls at Night" (2017), Robert Redford and Jane Fonda reunite in Colorado, including scenes at the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa in Denver. Florence, Colo., is used as the fictional town of Holt in the adaptation of the Kent Haruf novel.
Bruce Willis reprises his role as John McClane in "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" (1990), featuring the since-shuttered Stapleton International Airport standing in for Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. A short winter forces the crew north earlier than planned in search of snow.
Figure-skating farce "Blades of Glory" (2007), starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, used Ball Arena (formerly Pepsi Center) as a venue for some of the movie's ridiculous competitions on ice.
Clint Eastwood's grizzled secret service agent protects the president at a rally at Civic Center Park in "In the Line of Fire" (1993).
"About Schmidt" (2002) sees Jack Nicholson's retiree piloting his Winnebago down Colfax, although Omaha largely stood in for Denver for the scenes at Kathy Bates’ character's Capitol Hill house, hot tub and all.
Druggy cult classic "Vanishing Point" (1971) features protagonist Kowalski cruising West Colfax Avenue in an iconic 1970 Dodge Challenger. He scores some Benzedrine before heading west to San Francisco.
"Over the Edge" (1979) chronicles a teenage uprising in a fictional Denver suburb where there's nothing to do called New Granada, deftly portrayed by Aurora. The movie is remembered as a chronicle of teen angst and as Matt Dillon's film debut.
Rodney Dangerfield plays a shifty Denver businessman who coaches a girls' soccer team in "Ladybugs" (1992), filmed on location in the city. Dangerfield's character cheats by dressing a boy in drag as a ringer; the movie was a critical and financial dud.
Speaking of bombs, Kevin Costner and Jean Tripplehorn dive to a digitally re-created Denver in cinematic calamity "Waterworld" (1995), where you see the "cash register (shaped) building" deep below the surface of the water.
"Dynasty" (1981-89) showcases the lifestyles of the rich and famous Carrington and Colby families from their Denver home base. Numerous Denver high-rises are featured in the prime-time soap's opening credits, but the show was shot primarily in Los Angeles.
Likewise, "Mork & Mindy" features Robin Williams' titular Orkan hatching from an egg after landing on Earth in the sitcom's opening credits, followed by a montage shot largely in Boulder: Mork and Mindy flying a kite under the Flatirons, driving into town, walking on Pearl Street, and going to their Victorian home on Pine Street. The interiors, however, were shot in California.
Fans of "South Park" (1997-present) have seen Cartman and company wreak havoc most famously at Casa Bonita in Lakewood, but the show has featured an animated version of Denver International Airport, the City & County Building, and numerous other real and fictional locations in the city.
Many of the "Perry Mason" TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s and early episodes of Dick Van Dyke's "Diagnosis: Murder" were shot on sound stages in the old Bonfils Theatre Complex (now home to the Tattered Cover Book Store) on East Colfax Avenue and other locations in Denver. Denver stood in for Los Angeles in "Perry Mason," but "Diagnosis: Murder" was set in Denver for a few episodes until the show abruptly relocated its characters to L.A. without explanation for the third season.