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Key West and the Movies!

Key West has some beautiful scenery as well as some outrageous places. We have history with old Conch houses, museums, Civil War forts, and a Navy Base. We also have modern buildings and great hangouts like Sloppy Joe’s. Not to mention great wildlife and sea life. And when you add the fact that the islands of the Florida Keys are surrounded by emerald waters that would play a great backdrop to almost any film. And so, you would not be surprised to find that there have been many, many movies and a few television shows have been filmed in Key West and throughout the Florida Keys.

Here are some of the more interesting stories of movies that were filmed on the islands, abbreviated of course.

In 1955, Key West resident Tennessee Williams talked Paramount Pictures into filming the movie version of his play, The Rose Tattoo, in Key West rather than in Mississippi which is was the actually setting of the play. The film starred Burt Lancaster and Italian actress Anna Magnani.

In 1959 director Blake Edwards filmed Operation Petticoat starring Tony Curtis, Carey Grant, and Janet Leigh. This film went on to be Universal Pictures’ biggest grossing film of the year that year.

Years later, in 1993, Tony Curtis’ daughter Jamie Lee Curtis would come to the Florida Keys to film parts of True Lies, also starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tia Carrera, and Tom Arnold. While the actors stayed at the Pier House Resort in Key West while they were here filming, the scenes were actually shot in Marathon and Lower Sugarloaf Key.

In 1988, the James Bond film License to Kill starring Timothy Dalton, Benicio del Toro, and Cary Lowell was filmed here. Scenes for this movie were shot all over the island including Garrison Bight Marina, St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church, and the Hemingway House. And one of the planes used in the film is still sitting in the Keys, parked right in front of the Sugarloaf Airport located at Mile Marker 17 on Lower Sugarloaf Key. I drive by this plane pretty much every day of my life and did not know until recently that it was a part of License to Kill.

And speaking of the Sugarloaf Airport, Drop Zone starring Wesley Snipes was filmed in part here.

Hollywood returned to Key West in 1990 to film Criss Cross which starred Goldie Hawn, Arliss Howard, Keith Carradine, and Steve Buscemi. Most of the filming was done at the Eden House which is where the real life woman the story was based on lived with her son, Chris back in the 1970s.

And here is a more accurate, chronological list of filming done in the Keys taken from the Florida Keys and Key West Film Commission and IMDb.

  • 1940 - Island City Republic (March of Time)
  • 1942 - Reap the Wild Wind
  • 1948 - Key Largo: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson
  • 1951 - The Frogmen
  • 1954 - Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef: Robert Wagner, Ty Hardin, Terry Moore
  • 1954 - Rose Tattoo: Anna Magnani, Burt Lancaster
  • 1956 - Carib Gold: Ethel Waters, Cole Wallace, Cecely Tyson
  • 1959 - Operation Petticoat: Tony Curtis, Cary Grant
  • 1960 - All Fall Down: Warren Beatty, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Angela Lansbury
  • 1962 - PT 109: Cliff Robertson, Ty Hardin
  • 1963 - Escape from Hell Island: Mack Stevens, Jack Donner, Linda Scott
  • 1973 – Key West: Stephen Boyd
  • 1974 - 92 in the Shade: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Margo Kidder
  • 1976 – Gums: Terri Hall
  • 1978 - Hunters on the Reef
  • 1979 – Butterflies in Heat
  • 1979 - Cuba Crossing: Stuart Whitman, Karen Kaye, Robert Vaughn, Woody Strode
  • 1979 - The Last Resort: Eartha Kitt, Matt Collins, Roxanne Gregory
  • 1979 - The Final Countdown: Katherine Ross, Martin Sheen, Kirk Douglas, Charles Dunning
  • 1984 – Devil Fish
  • 1985 - Running Scared: Billy Crystal, Gregory Hines
  • 1986 - Russkies: Peter Billingsley, Leaf Phoenix, Stefan DeSalle, Whip Hubley
  • 1988 - License to Kill: Timothy Dalton
  • 1989 – Cops (TV series)
  • 1989 – Route One USA
  • 1990 – Havana: Robert Redford, Lena Olin, Alan Arkin
  • 1991-92 - Criss-Cross: Goldie Hawn
  • 1992 – The Real World (TV Series)
  • 1992-93 - Matinee: John Goodman
  • 1993 - True Lies: Arnold Schwartzeneger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
  • 1993 – Key West (TV Series)
  • 1994 - Drop Zone: Wesley Snipes
  • 1995 - Up Close and Personal: Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford
  • 1995 - Blood & Wine: Jack Nicholson
  • 1995 - Executive Decision: Steven Seagal, Kurt Russell
  • 1996 - Zeus and Roxanne: Steve Guttenberg
  • 1996 - Spanish Prisoner: Steve Martin
  • 1996 - Speed 2: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe
  • 1997 - Assault on Devil’s Island: Terry “Hulk” Hogan, Carl Weathers, Shannon Tweed
  • 1997 - Tomorrow Never Dies: Pierce Brosnan
  • 1997 - Murder of Crows: Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Berenger
  • 1998 - Office Space: Jennifer Aniston
  • 1998 - Dance of the Dolphins
  • 1998 - Nawa Shibari: Rope Art
  • 2000 - The Crew: Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfus
  • 2000 - Heartbreakers: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman, Jason Lee, Ray Liotta
  • 2002 - Red Dragon: Ralph Fiennes, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel
  • 2002 - 2 Fast 2 Furious: Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes
  • 2003 – Water for Tea
  • 2003 – Totally Hooked (TV Series)
  • 2003 – One Bad Trip (TV Series)
  • 2004 - The Pacifier: Vin Diesel
  • 2004 - Meet The Fockers: Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Robert DeNiro
  • 2004 – Key West: City of Colors
  • 2005 - Miami Vice
  • 2005 - Hoot
  • 2005 – Cross Bones
  • 2005 - The L Word (TV Episode)
  • 2005 – A Cemetary Special
  • 2005-06 - MTV’s Real World Key West (TV Series)
  • 2006 – Jackass Number Two
  • 2006 – Chasing Silver: A Tarpon Journey (TV Mini-series)
  • 2006 – On the Set with John Glen
  • 2006 – Nature’s Fury: Storm of the Century
  • 2006 – Taste for Adventure (TV Episode)
  • 2007 - Fantasy Fest 2006 Key Weird
  • 2007 – Bullrun (TV Episode)
  • 2008 – Quizno’s Madfin Shark Series (TV Series)
  • 2008 - Repossession Mambo: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker
  • 2008 - I Love You Phillip Morris: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor
  • 2008 – Return of the Magi: A Documentary of Authentic Astrology
  • 2009 – Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches (TV Episode)
  • 2009 – A Floridian’s Guide to Climate Change
  • 2010 - I am Number Four: Timothy Olyphant, Alex Pettyfer
  • 2010 – Polterguys
  • 2010 – Food Wars (TV Episode)
  • 2011 – The H Race
  • 2012 – Act of Valor
  • 2012 – Bad Kitties

For more information about things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site. You can also visit our Key West Events Calendar to see more details on upcoming special events.

And for more restaurant reviews check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our restaurant reviews at www.gotothekeys.com.

Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge