The AFI Top 100 Films -- And The Top Ten Movies Filmed in Colorado

Portions of Mr. & Mrs. Smith were filmed in Glenwood Springs.

Last week the American Film Institute issued its updated list of the top 100 films of all time. As to be expected, Citizen Kane is still number one, but Casablanca fell to number three in favor of The Godfather. To view the complete list, Download file.

The Searchers had the biggest change, jumping 84 places, from 96 to 12. That's good for Colorado since the film was partially shot in Aspen and Gunnsion. In honor of that feat, here's our own top ten list of the best movies filmed in Colorado. And we weren't picky: If cameras rolled in our state even for few celluloid seconds, we claimed it. (For a good list of flicks with Colorado scenes, visit the Colorado Film Commission.) -- Amy Haimerl

1. The Searchers (1956) Starring: John Wayne; directed by John Ford Location: Aspen and Gunnison Notes: Number 12 on the AFI list

2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Starring: Paul Newman and Robert Redford Location: Durango and Silverton; train heists were filmed on the D&RG narrow gauge railroad Notes: Number 50 on the AFI list; won four Oscars

3. The Shining (1980) Starring: Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall; directed by Stanley Kubrick based on a Stephen King novel Location: Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Notes: Despite myth, most of the movie was shot in the U.K. The Stanley Hotel stood in for a few exterior shots; the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon, was the interior.

4. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) Starring: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Location: Glenwood Springs Notes: Nicole Kidman was originally tapped to play Mrs. Smith

5. Thelma & Louise (1991) Starring: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Brad Pitt, Harvey Keitel Location: Unaweep Canyon, Rte. 141 outside of Gateway, Colorado Notes: George Clooney auditioned five times for the role of J.D., but it eventually went to Pitt.

6. Sleeper (1973) Starring: Woody Allen and Diane Keaton Location: Clam Shell House on Genesee Mountain, Denver Botanic Gardens, Church of the Risen Christ on Monaco Parkway, former Currigan Hall

7. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Starring: Harrison Ford and Sean Connery Location: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad running between Antonito, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico Notes: Won an Oscar

8. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) Starring: Bruce Willis and William Sadler Location: Stapleton International Airport (doubling for Dulles International Airport in D.C.), Breckenridge and Highland Lake Church in Mead

9. Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Starring: Andy Garcia, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Lloyd Location: Five Points in Denver, particularly the Rossonian Hotel and the Casino Cabaret, now Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom Notes: Title is taken from a Warren Zevon song

10. True Grit (1969) Starring: John Wayne, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall Location: Canon City, Castle Rock, Gunnison Notes: John Wayne won his best acting Oscar for True Grit

Honorable mention: 1. Every Which Way But Loose (1978) Locations: Aurora, Denver, Georgetown Notes: Right turn, Clyde. Tough, tough choice between this and True Grit for the last spot on the top ten list.

2. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) Locations: Alamosa and Durango Notes: You have to love the Griswolds. You just have to.

3. Independence Day (1996) Locations: Colorado Springs Notes: Won an Oscar for best effects. And seriously, anything that blows up that much shit has got to be good.

4. Vanishing Point (1971) Locations: Denver, Glenwood Springs and Rifle Note: One hot Dodge Challenger scores it a higher position that it would have received otherwise.

5. City Slickers (1991) Location: Destination Ranch outside of Durango Notes: Jack Palance won a best supporting actor Oscar for City Slickers; much of the ranch is now for sale.

6. Silver City (2004) Location: Denver, Leadville, Sedalia, Idaho Springs Notes: Westword’s Patty Calhoun made a guest appearance as a reporter in the film. That's pretty much its redeeming factor. The fact that was shot exclusively in Colorado is what gets it on the list at all.

7. Catch and Release (2006) Locations: Pearl Street Mall and across Boulder Notes: It has Jennifer Garner. That's enough to set this awful film above the rest of the drek -- but not by much.

8. Cliffhanger Note: Although most of this was shot in Italty, the aerial photography during the hijack was set over the Rockies, around Durango.

9 About Schmidt (2002) Locations: Denver and Boulder Notes: Jack Nicholson's second appearance on this list.

10. Dumb & Dumber (1994) Locations: Aspen, Estes Park, Copper Mountain, Stanley Hotel, Stapleton International Airport, Breckenridge Notes: That we even have to acknowledge this film is disconcerting.

TV: Centennial (1978) Location: Bent’s Ford, Orchard and Denver

Dynasty (1981) Locations: Despite being set in Denver, only the opening credits were filmed here.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amy Haimerl