The list of films shot in Las Vegas is long, beginning in 1960. The spectacular backdrop of the Las Vegas strip and selection of grand hotels offer the perfect setting for any dramatic film.
In 1960, the original ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ was filmed in various locations on and around the Las Vegas strip. The Sands hotel provided the setting for many indoor scenes, as well as the iconic closing shot. Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop starred in the film.
‘Viva Las Vegas’ was filmed in 1964 and starred Elvis Presley with Ann-Margret. The film is most famous for the scandal caused by an apparent affair between the two stars. The resulting chemistry on screen ultimately led to the belief that this was one of Elvis Presley’s best movies.
Only two movies were made in Las Vegas during the 1970’s ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It is’ and ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. The 1970 Elvis presentation was a documentary of the performer’s transition back to live music concerts from movie roles. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ was the seventh James Bond film and starred Sean Connery as Agent 007. The film was shot in seven hotels around Las Vegas, all owned by Howard Hughes.
The 1980’s saw three films shot in Las Vegas, one of which received critical acclaim, ‘Starman’. In 1982, the comedy team of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong starred in ‘Things Are Tough All Over’. ‘Desert Bloom’ was filmed in 1986 and released for viewing at the Cannes Film Festival. ‘Starman’ is widely considered as the best film of 1984, even inspiring a short television series of the same name.
The film industry in Las Vegas boomed during the 1990’s, with 16 films being shot in the area. One of the most notable is Casino, starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. It was filmed in the Riviera casino at night in order to replicate the fictional Tangiers. It has been reported that the movie’s starring actors stayed at the ARIA resort during filming.
The late 1990’s brought the creation of several popular films, such as ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, ‘Showgirls’, ‘Mars Attacks!’, ‘Vegas Vacation’, ‘Con Air’, ‘Fools Rush In’, ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’, and ‘Lethal Weapon 4’. Most of the above films incorporated the famous strip and iconic hotels such as the Paris Hotel Las Vegas.
‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ was filmed in 1998 as an adaptation of the 1971 novel by the same name. The film starred Johnny Depp and Benecio del Toro. It was met with a lot of criticism and ultimately failed at the box office. The film has since become a cult classic, fueled by the success of the star actors in other films. It was directed by Terry Gilliam.
From 2000 to 2010, 21 films have been shot in Las Vegas. The first was ‘Pay It Forward’ starring Helen Hunt and the most recent is a Bollywood film called ‘Kites’. In 2001, 41 years after the first version was made, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ was recorded once again in Las Vegas. It starred George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and others. Two sequels have been made: ‘Oceans’ Twelve’ (filmed in European locations) and ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ (shot, once again, in Las Vegas in 2007).
Las Vegas is clearly a city whose success is hinged upon tourism, and increasingly, the film industry. The city prides itself on the impressive selection of entertaining, and the often odd attractions offered. For example, the Excalibur Hotel is famous for its medieval dinner theater and lack of eating utensils. No matter what you expect to see when you visit the city, there is no doubt you will be amused by what you find there.
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