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These Places are Ready for Their Close Up: Texas Movie Landmarks

September 7, 2022 Texas, Texas History

Texas is currently in the Hollywood spotlight thanks to the Taylor Sheridan western-themed shows such as the Yellowstone prequel “1883” and the upcoming Yellowstone spinoff “6666” being set and filmed in the Lone Star State.

Texas, however, is no ingénue when it comes to movies with famous films such as John Wayne epic “The Alamo" (19690) filmed near Brackettville and the iconic “Giant” (1956), with James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, filmed in Marfa.

And you do not have to be a Baby Boomer to say, “all right, all right, all right” to Texas movie landmarks as native son director Richard Linklater has made a lifetime of movies shot in Texas from “Dazed and Confused” to “Boyhood” to “Everybody Wants Some!!”.

Texas Movie Landmarks from Lone Star State-Based Films

There are some films that scream “Texas!” and you know that the film is set (and likely filmed!) in the Lone Star State – yes, we are looking at you "Selena”.

Here are some Texas Movie Landmarks you can check out on your next road trip:

  • Top Notch Burgers in Dazed and Confused (1993): We must start with the Austin hamburger joint, which still looks like it did when it opened 1971, Top Notch Burgers where Matthew McConaughey first uttered “all right, all right, all right” and a career was born.
  • Strawberry Festival Grounds in Selena (1997): The biopic of the Texas-born Tejano star Selena made good use of the Strawberry Festival Grounds in Poteet along with other scenes shot in the Corpus Christi and San Antonio areas. The tradition continues with the gates opening Oct. 29, 2022, for this year’s music event.
  • Farmers and Merchants Bank from Bonnie & Clyde (1967): The star-crossed bank robbing lovers from the Dallas area were immortalized in the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway film. The photogenic Farmers and Merchants Bank in Pilot Point, built in 1896 and currently for sale, made several cameos in the movie.
  • Tranquility Park in Reality Bites (1994): This Gen X film with Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, and Ben Stiller, was set in Houston with Tranquility Park, built to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of the many recognizable locations.
  • William P. Hobby Airport from Hellfighters (1968): If you have flown in and out of the smaller of Houston’s two airports, Hobby, you might have recognized this as part of the setting of John Wayne’s film about oil rig firefighters. The Goose Creek Oilfield in nearby Baytown also makes an appearance in the film.
  • Victorian House from Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): Tobe Hooper’s ground-breaking horror film used a Victorian home located in Round Rock that was bought by The Antlers Inn in 1998 in Kingsland. The home was dismantled, moved to its present location and has been home to the Grand Central Café since 2012 where you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • East Beach in Terms of Endearment (1983): This movie is very Texan as it features a retired astronaut played by Jack Nicholson and was based on a novel by Larry McMurtry. Galveston’s East Beach gets a starring role for a scene where Nicholson ends up in the Gulf of Mexico after Shirley MacLaine ends a beach joy ride by slamming the brakes on his Corvette.  
  • The Royal Theater in The Last Picture Show (1971): The Royal Theater in Archer City was used as the namesake theater for this Oscar-winning movie starring Jeff Bridges. Today you can catch a live show at the theater or even host your wedding at the venue.

Texas Movie Landmarks That May Surprise You!

There are many locations in Texas that will look very familiar to movie fans, but they are from films not necessarily set in the Lone Star State. Here is an example of more Texas Movie Landmarks you can check out:

  • USS Texas in La Porte and USS Lexington in Corpus Christi in Pearl Harbor (2001): While the epic film certainly shot in Hawaii, it also made good use of World War II battleships in Texas including the USS Texas in La Porte and USS Lexington in Corpus Christi.
  • Hamilton Pool Waterfall in Predators (2010): The film shot scenes in Bastrop, Canyon Lake, McKinney Falls State Park and the beautiful Hamilton Pool waterfall in Dripping Springs served as a backdrop for key moments.
  • Bass Concert Hall in Miss Congeniality (2000): Austin is a popular filming location for movies and this Sandra Bullock comedy made use liberal use of locations around the Texas capital including the Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus.
  • Wortham Theater Center in Robocop 2 (1990): The Sci-Fi film was filmed almost exclusively in Houston with the iconic Wortham Theater Center, home to the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera, in focus. Other H-Town locations from the movie include City Hall, Hiram Clarke Power Plant, and the George R. Brown Convention Center.
  • Restaurants in Office Space (1999): The sleeper hit movie by Mike Judge used this Austin area restaurant as the inside set for both its fictional “Chotskie’s” and “Flingers” restaurants. The location is now a Baker Street Pub & Grill located on South Lamar. The outside shots, however, were shot at what is now a Chase Bank on Great Hills Trail in Austin.
  • Dallas City Hall in Robocop (1987): The Robocop really loved Texas! The Dallas City Hall, built in 1978, was used as the exterior for the fictional Omni Consumer Productions HQ in the movie.
  • Fort Worth Water Gardens in Logan’s Run (1976): It may be surprising that Texas is featured in so many sci-fi films. In Logan’s Run, the Fort Worth Water Gardens stand in for part of the outside world from those trying to escape a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society. You can also spot the Hyatt Regency Houston and its 29-story atrium in the film!

These Texas Movie Landmarks are a few of the locations you can visit around the state.

The Texas Film Commission offers movie fans five different “film trails” they can follow to spot famous locations:

  • ‘Thrills and Chills’ Trail: From Race with the Devil (1975) to No Country for Old Men (2007) locations.

  • Texas Westerns Trail: From True Grit (2010) to Lone Star (1997) locations.

  • ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Trail: A must for fans of the long-running AMC TV series.

  • Texas Classics Trail: From Dallas (1978-1991) to Friday Night Lights (2006-2011).

  • Richard Linklater Trail: Features his film locations such as Bernie (2011) and Slacker (1991).

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