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The Spokane Movie Marathon

Cuba Gooding Jr. is in Spokane again shooting The Hit List. That got me thinking. What other movies have been filmed in Spokane? I knew of a handful, but I haven't been able to see all of them. That, I thought, must change.

In what I consider a very bold move, I decided to hold my own Spokane Movie Marathon, during which I would watch three movies that were filmed entirely in Spokane: Benny & Joon, Vision Quest and Mozart & the Whale.

So, in honor of Spokane's own movie makers, here is the recap of the first annual Spokane Movie Marathon:

10:00 a.m. Realize Benny & Joon is checked out from the local Blockbuster. This isn't starting out well. My hopes for completing my mission are severely dented. On top of that, Vision Quest and Mozart & the Whale aren't carried by Blockbuster. I'm sure Hollywood Video has them.

10:10 a.m. Find out Hollywood Video has closed.

10:33 a.m. Strike out at Hastings as well. I am so fired.

10:45 a.m. Shot in the dark. See if all three movies can be found on YouTube. They are! All look legit, though Mozart & the Whale has Spanish subtitles. No problemo.

11:03 a.m. Start Benny & Joon. The opening credits play over scenes of a train running though some mountains. says it was operated in Ione, Washington. I believe it.

11:07 a.m. I'm introduced to Benny's house, which is obviously in Peaceful Valley since the Maple Street Bridge can be seen in the background. I must find that house someday.

11:29 a.m. Benny, Joon and Sam (Johnny Depp) eat in a café where they meet Ruthie, played by a young Julianne Moore. I could be wrong, but it looks like Ferguson's Café on Garland.

11:41 a.m. Johnny Depp's character, Sam, is cooking grilled cheese with an iron. Now I'm getting hungry.

12:00 p.m. The start of a nice five-minute scene in Riverfront Park on the north side of the river looking at the Loof Carrousel. Sam goes into a nice physical comedy routine. Is that how he gets all the ladies?

12:17 p.m. The iconic Mary Lou's Milk Bottle on Garland is seen. Read the last bit of trivia here.

12:18 p.m. Sam and Joon board what looks to be an original STA bus. Retro!

12:21 p.m. Joon is taken away in an ambulance. The side of the ambulance says "Deer Park." It's not a scene in Deer Park.

12:33 p.m. Joon is taken to Emma Sherman Municipal Hospital - as seen from the outside - and I haven't been able to figure out what building they used. It's not a hospital in Spokane, that's for sure. Any ideas?

12:38 p.m. Benny allows Joon to get her own apartment, and the movie ends. One down, two to go. Next up right away is Vision Quest.


12:42 p.m. The opening scene looks a lot like the gym at the old Field School at Shadle Park that is currently being demolished. I can't confirm this, though.

12:45 p.m. We are introduced to Louden Swain, played by Matthew Modine, training for his wrestling team by running near Latah Creek, over the Riverfront Park suspension bridge, over Stevens St. as it runs over the river, and through different skywalks downtown.

12:46 p.m. Louden works at the old Ridpath Hotel.

12:52 p.m. The Ferris High School cafeteria is used as the setting when Louden eats lunch at school.

1:03 p.m. Back in that first gym. Still don't know where it is and it's killing me!

1:05 p.m. Is this déjà vu? Louden's dad instructs him to take Carla, played by Linda Fiorentino, to Ferguson's, the same café used in Benny & Joon.

1:14 p.m. Louden gets in a fight at school. It happens outside, and it's obvious the exterior of the school is Rogers High School.

1:20 p.m. In one of the coolest scenes, "Shute" - the wrestler Louden strives to beat - is doing steps at the pre-renovated Albi Stadium with a log on his shoulders. I am so incorporating that into my workout routine.

1:25 p.m. Hello, Madonna. Making her movie debut in Spokane is the controversial queen herself. She's singing in a bar rumored to be on North Division. The name escapes me at the moment. Any ideas out there?

1:30 p.m. Louden's high school, the Thompson Warriors, are in a wrestling match against the Sherman Highlanders. The Highlanders' colors are green and gold. Hmmmmm. Based off of the Shadle Park Highlanders, perhaps? If so, that is a wonderful choice since, you know, Shadle Park is the best high school. It was also my high school, but that doesn't matter.

1:39 p.m. Continuing the Shadle Park theme, the next scene is Louden talking to his coach in an office in the locker room. Now, during my research before this endeavor, Wikipedia said the Shadle locker room was used during filming. I eagerly awaited this moment to see where I once dressed down (too much information?). Sure enough, the old monkey bars in the corner of the locker room tipped me off. Awesome! I've walked in the same place as Matthew Modine!

1:41 p.m. Louden is running across the Monroe Street Bridge as the camera pans out to see more of the area. I can see the City Hall building. Was it City Hall then, or Montgomery Ward? I'm wondering why other filmmakers don't use this setting more often.

1:45 p.m. Bathroom break.

1:48 p.m. Louden looks into a window of a restaurant. Right above his head, in bright letters you clearly see "The Onion." Awesome!

1:53 p.m. Thompson High is wrestling in North Central's gym. Since this movie came out in 1984, I can safely assume it was filmed shortly after the new North Central was built.

2:31 p.m. Louden wrestles Shute in what looks to me to be the gym at Spokane Falls Community College. I won't give away the ending, but I'm sure you can see where this is going.

2:41 p.m. End of movie number two. I need a lunch break. Listen, if baseball gets a seventh inning stretch, I get a lunch break.


3:04 p.m. I'm on the back stretch of this journey. Time to begin Mozart & the Whale.

3:05 p.m. This is starting out nice! A great flyover of downtown Spokane from the west. I can see just about everything east of the Monroe Street Bridge and west of Riverfront Park.

3:06 p.m. Josh Hartnett's character, Donald, is introduced. He's a taxi driver - for now - and I can clearly see a Pizza Rita box in his cab. True story: I was a Pizza Rita delivery boy in high school.

3:07 p.m. Donald has Asperger's Syndrome. He begins naming off real intersections in Spokane - Wall and 4th, Riverside and Washington. Pretty cool.

3:08 p.m. Donald crashes his taxi cab. He is soon fired. More important, though, the crash happened on the corner of Riverside and Post, right in front of the Spokane Regional Business Center. That's where I work!

3:12 p.m. Donald's Asperger's group meets outside the INB Performing Arts Center (or Opera House, for you traditionalists) and feeds the ducks. I've done that before.

3:19 p.m. We see Donald's apartment for the first time. Based on my observations, it's located above the Bank of America on the corner of Broadway and Monroe.

3:26 p.m. Donald takes Isabelle, played by Radha Mitchell, to Cat Tales on a date. I'm bummed because I haven't even thought of this date idea yet!

3:27 p.m. Donald and Isabelle ride the escalator at the STA Plaza.

3:31 p.m. Isabelle dresses up as Mozart for Halloween and is supposed to meet Donald at River Park Square. A great shot of the atrium and the escalators.

3:34 p.m. Isabelle finally finds Donald at his apartment. Donald is in a whale costume. They walk around downtown, giving me one of the best lines I've ever heard in a movie: "What are you laughing at toots? At least my boyfriend's a vegetarian!"

3:55 p.m. I've been staring at this screen all day. My eyes are nearly bloodshot. Must. Fight. Through.

3:58 p.m. Bella's Hair Salon is the setting for the second time.

4:28 p.m. Donald and Isabelle have difficulties. Donald is instructed not to call Isabelle, but he has trouble fighting the urge. To deal with this, he takes his office phone and promptly throws it off the Lincoln Street Bridge. Wise choice.

4:35 p.m. My day ends happily ever after because this marathon is finished!

4:36 p.m. Time to get some feeling back into my backside.


After surviving the long journey, I realized something: I drive by and walk around many of the settings used in each film. I used to never think about who stood before me at that spot, but now I can say Johnny Depp, Matthew Modine and Josh Hartnett once stood where I stood, once ran where I ran, and once walked through the same locker room - the one where I flexed my muscles in front of a mirror.

It's amazing when you're watching the movies and you realize Spokane is a great place to film.

For more on each movie: Benny & Joon, Vision Quest, Mozart & the Whale



I believe that the hospital used in the Benny and Joon movie is what is now known as Maplewood Gardens Retirement Facility at 1100 N. Superior, behind Mission Park.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

Oh yeah, the psychiatric hospital in Benny & Joon was filmed at St. Michael's Academy at 8500 N. St. Michael's Road, Spokane.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

Benny & Joon's house was fimed at W. Water & N. Cedar in Peaceful Valley. The auto shop where Benny works is on Market & Sanson in the Hillyard district. You were right about Ferguson's and they also show the back of the Milk Bottle. Ruthie's (Julianne Moore) apartment (and later Sam & Joon's) is in the Southhill in the 1300 block of West 10th & Adams.

In Vision Quest, yes it was Bigfoot Tavern on Division near the Y where the club scene with Madonna was filmed. The hotel where Louden worked was the Ridpath in downtown Spokane. His house is located at 1509 W. Main Street also in Peaceful Valley.

In Mozart & the Whale, you were right about the apartments above or next door to the 804 N. Monroe Bank of America is the filming location for Donald's Apartment. The laundry mat he goes to is the Monroe Street Wash & Dry at Carlisle and Monroe. I'm still trying to find out where there cute lil green house is located. It is in the 900 block of somewhere on a hill.

Shadow of Fear with James Spader and Peter Coyote was also mainly filmed in and around Spokane. A ton of scenes are filmed at the Davenport Hotel. Still trying to figure out where Harrison & Wynn's house is filmed. Looks like a large white home of which I am somewhat familiar in South Hill but I would have to see the movie again.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

K. Diddy: Is it you? Ha, ha, ha... You r the bomb.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

"Why would I lie?" with Treat Williams and Marlon's older sister Jocelyn Brando, was also filmed in Spokane in 1980.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

I can't believe you get paid to do this.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

B-Easy -

You can watch them all whenever your time allows. The links at the top take you to the first part of each movie from YouTube. I had trouble finding them all at local movie rental stores.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

Dang, wish I had time to watch all of these movies. Great synopsis.

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

Pretty sure it was the Big Foot Tavern where Madonna filmed. I auditioned for that movie and got a very, very small part as a cheerleader (which I actually was). I flunked chemistry but I made $800. A ton of money back in the 80's! Thanks for the memories kdiddy!

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

What a great journey. I enjoyed it with you...I think the hospital in Benny & Joon was The Academy and Matthew Modine hails from Imperial Beach, of my old hometowns.
Nice job Kdiddy!!!

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

Pretty sure it was the Big Foot Tavern where Madonna filmed. I auditioned for that movie and got a very, very small part as a cheerleader (which I actually was). I flunked chemistry but I made $800. A ton of money back in the 80's! Thanks for the memories kdiddy!

On February 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM anonymous wrote:

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