MOVIES FILMED IN CLEVELAND began with an educational version of Snow White (1916), the first of only 2 historically chronicled silent films made in Cleveland. The other was titled The Perils of Society (1916). The first "talkie" made in Cleveland was It Happened in Cleveland (1936), locally financed and cast from students at John Marshall High School. The Kid from Cleveland (1949) was filmed in Cleveland using the members of the 1948 World Series-winning Indians in scenes in and outside the Municipal Stadium and in other downtown locations. After realistic location shooting become more prevalent, moviemaking started to move out of Hollywood more often. The first effect was felt in Cleveland with One Potato, Two Potato (1964), a drama of interracial marriage made in Painesville. The first big commercial film made in Cleveland was Billy Wilder's The Fortune Cookie (1966). Staged scenes were shot in Municipal Stadium, where more than 10,000 Clevelanders gathered as extras to play the roles of football fans. Up Tight (1968) was a loose remake of the famous John Ford film The Informer (1935) about Irish revolutionaries, which used the black ghetto areas of Cleveland's east side to tell the story of militants betrayed by one of their own members. That same year, independent producers Roger and Gerald Sindell pooled their resources to make Double-Step (1968), a domestic tragedy involving the family of a cellist with the Cleveland Orchestra. Featured were scenes filmed in SHAKER HTS. and in the Fine Arts Garden (where a murder takes place). Hoping to capitalize on the success of the Broadway play Hair, producer John Pappas brought a crew to Cleveland to make cinema history's first full-length tribal rock musical movie, Aquarius (1970). Open auditions for singing and dancing parts for hippie and nonhippie types were held in facilities of PLAYHOUSE SQUARE. Shaker Hts. native and local filmmaker Harold Cornsweet came home to make a comedy called Return to Campus (1973), using locales familiar to him in Shaker Hts., in addition to scenes on the campus of Ohio State Univ. in Columbus.
Moviemaking in Ohio truly began to boom with the establishment of the Ohio Film Bureau in 1976. One of the first films to be made in Cleveland as a result of its efforts was The Deer Hunter (1977), which was named Best Picture of the Year. ST. THEODOSIUS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL and nearby LEMKO HALL in Cleveland's TREMONT neighborhood provided the setting for a fictional wedding and reception. The Gathering (1977) was a made-for-TV movie filmed on location in CHAGRIN FALLS, Hudson, and Cleveland, which were translated in the movie into a generic New England city. Actress Natalie Wood strolled in front of the downtown MAY CO. department store and other storefronts along Euclid Ave. near Public Square for the made-for-TV movie The Cracker Factory (1979). Cleveland in the 1950s was portrayed in the real Cleveland of the 1970s for the film Those Lips, Those Eyes (1979). Cleveland Hts.' open-air CAIN PARK THEATER was the setting for this screenplay by Clevelander and CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY graduate David Shabar. Singer Paul Simon came to Cleveland to make One Trick Pony (1979), because he felt Cleveland was the rock 'n' roll capital of the world. The Escape Artist (1980) was a Francis Ford Coppola production filmed downtown near CITY HALL and the COUNTY COURTHOUSE and in the FLATS, OHIO CITY, and the Cedar Rd. and Fairmount Blvd. area.
The main floor of the Higbee Co. department store, as well as all of Public Square, was transported back in time for the offbeat Jean Sheppard comedy A Christmas Story (1983), a tale told in flashback of a man remembering Christmas as a boy. In 1985 the Cleveland Film Festival featured Stranger Than Paradise (1984), directed by former Clevelander Jim Jarmusch. The highly lauded film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France and included scenes shot on the 9th St. pier behind Captain Frank's landmark restaurant, on the west side, and along I-71. Also in 1985, local filmmakers representing Benchmark Productions garnered a lot of local publicity while filming a low-budget horror film, The 33rd Night, on location in a private residence in the theretofore quiet suburb of BRECKSVILLE. In May 1986 Michael J. Fox spent a few days in the Cleveland area shooting the film Light of Day. Locations included the Euclid Tavern on Euclid Ave. near E. 116th St. and Marshallan Prods., Inc., on W. 85th St. The film's director was Paul Schrader, screenwriter of Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo.