As the folks pushing film in Colorado will tell you, our fair state offers an incredible variety of potential movie locations: mountains, deserts, farmland, big cities, little towns and so on. And even though we don't offer Hollywood types — many of whom spend their leisure time at such tony resorts as Aspen and Vail — nearly as much in the way of economic incentives for filming here, colorful Colorado still shows up in numerous projects, including the following:
6896 Weld CR 5, Mead
The old Stapleton Airport lives on in 1990's Die Hard 2, the okay-but-not-great sequel to the 1988 favorite starring Bruce Willis as tough-talking hero John McClane; it briefly substitutes for Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. But a much more memorable scene takes place at historic Highlandlake Church near Mead, between Longmont and Loveland. "A facade was built on the church to make the front look like the back," notes location scout Greg Babcock. "There was a big machine-gun fight, and Bruce stabs the bad guy in the eye with an icicle." That's entertainment!
Buckskin Joe Frontier Town & Railway
1193 Fremont County Road 3A, Cañon City
Buckskin Joe's was an Old West "edutaining" attraction/tourist trap near Cañon City that drew visitors for decades, in part because it served as the setting for plenty of flicks, among them 1965's Cat Ballou and 1969's True Grit. But our favorite is Mr. Majestyk, a 1974 Charles Bronson vehicle (based on a novel by Elmore Leonard) that has been called "the best crime film ever about a cantaloupe farmer." Buckskin Joe's exists now only on celluloid, however, since Greg Tabuteau, who owned it for 25 years, sold the 805-acre property to Bill Koch — brother to Tea Party funders David and Charles Koch — who moved some of the buildings to his private ranch outside of Gunnison.
Ramada Inn Downtown
1150 East Colfax Avenue
Much of About Schmidt, director Alexander Payne's fine 2002 character study starring Jack Nicholson, revolves around Denver. Unfortunately, the filming mostly took place in Omaha, Payne's preferred headquarters, and it shows. In one scene that's supposed to be Denver-based, a car sports Nebraska license plates. Still, one local establishment gets its share of screen time: the Ramada Inn Downtown, known to musicians as the Rockmada. A wedding supposedly occurs at the joint, which has certainly seen its share of bliss, happily wedded and otherwise.
333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park
The spectacular Stanley Hotel is most often associated with Stanley Kubrick's indelible 1980 version of author Stephen King's The Shining, even though none of the film was shot there. (The 1997 miniseries version was.) But the Estes Park landmark plays a more substantial role in a movie that was a bigger smash, if a considerably less pedigreed one: 1994's Dumb and Dumber, starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey as a couple of idiots.
2500 East First Avenue
A misbegotten, quasi-fictionalization of an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning scribe J.R. Moehringer, 2007's Resurrecting the Champ co-stars mannequin-like Josh Hartnett and Samuel L. Jackson, who seems to be under the impression that the movie can be saved. No chance — especially not with a cameo by John Elway, who appears in a scene in his namesake restaurant that's memorable mainly for its awkwardness. Talk about being thrown for a loss.
The Sculptured House
24501 Ski Hill Drive, Golden
The 1973 futuristic comedy Sleeper, from writer-director Woody Allen, could be the most hilarious movie partly made in Colorado — although aficionados of Ladybugs, a 1992 Rodney Dangerfield catastrophe, may disagree. But it's undeniable that the clamshell abode Allen helped make famous has become a landmark for generations of I-70 commuters. Not a steady one, though: The place has been bought, sold or foreclosed on at least four times in the past ten years.
3317 East Colfax Avenue
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Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, a 1995 offering populated by the likes of Andy Garcia and Christopher Lloyd, is an erratic affair. But it's got a great title, courtesy of the late Warren Zevon, and shows off plenty of vivid Mile High City attractions — not just the Bluebird, but also the still-empty Rossonian Hotel and the Casino Cabaret, which 21st-century hippies now know as Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom.
Hotel de Paris
409 6th Street, Georgetown
The historic Hotel de Paris was among the Georgetown-area sites temporarily begrimed by 1998's Phantoms, a tepid adaptation of a Dean Koontz shocker featuring Ben Affleck. Clint Eastwood did better by the community with 1978's Every Which Way but Loose, which also shot in several locations along Colfax. The final face-off between Clint and a motorcycle gang was staged in the middle of Georgetown, with an actor named Clyde proving to be every inch Affleck's equal as a thespian. Oh, yeah: Clyde was an orangutan.