The Best Movies Shot In Missouri

Fact Checked by Michael Peters

No one will ever mistake Missouri for the movie capital of the world, but there have been some great films shot in the Show Me State.

While most people are aware of where movies are set, it is always interesting to learn where movies were shot, even if it was just a few scenes. — which typically features coverage of Missouri sportsbooks issues — looked at some of the best films ever shot in the state of Missouri. considered all the movies shot in Missouri as listed on Wikipedia as a starting basis for the research. We then utilized IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes Audience score, Rotten Tomatoes Critic score, and Oscars recognition to create a scoring system.

Best Movies Shot in Missouri

Rank State Interest Level*
1Paper Moon (1973)94.3
2What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)87.67
3Up in the Air (2009)87
4Gone Girl (2014)86.3
5Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)85
6Winter’s Bone (2010)84.3
7National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)83.67
8Rich Hill (2014)79
9The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)77
10American Honey (2016)70.67

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Classic Movie Takes Top Spot

An old film tops the list in “Paper Moon” from 1973. It stars the father-daughter duo of Ryan and Tatum O’Neal playing the roles of con-man Moses Pray and his supposed 9-year-old daughter Addie Loggins. The movie was set in Kansas and Missouri, with the Missouri scenes shot in St. Joseph, which is where Addie is supposed to be delivered after the death of her mother.

Tatum O’Neal became the youngest to win an Academy Award when she was given the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Co-star Madeline Kahn was also nominated for the award. The movie was shot in black and white and earned $13 million.

Second on the list is the Tina Turner biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” but not a lot of the film was shot in Missouri. There were some scenes shot in St. Louis, but it was mostly filmed in California and New York.

Close behind at No. 3 is “Up In The Air” from 2009, and most of the movie was shot in St. Louis. Starring George Clooney and Anna Kendrick, the movie is about corporate downsizing and job loss. Director Jason Reitman used about 2,000 extras from Missouri, and there are 15 to 20 with speaking roles. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, the movie had 80 sets at 50 locations in St. Louis. The film made $166.8 million in U.S. and foreign showings.

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Affleck Thriller Finishes in Top 5

Ben Affleck’s mystery thriller “Gone Girl” from 2014 ranks fourth after filming in Cape Girardeau. The movie was a big winner at the box office with $369.3 million.

At No. 5 and No. 7 are two of the biggest comedies of all-time.

“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” comes in at No. 5 of the best films shot in Missouri, and it’s No. 24 on IMDB’s best comedy movies. The Thanksgiving holiday travel movie from 1987 starring Steve Martin and John Candy actually just has one scene at St. Louis Lambert International Airport where Martin and Candy meet up again and attempt to drive Candy’s rental car from St. Louis to Chicago.

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983 comes in at No. 7 on the best film in Missouri list and No. 15 on the best comedy list. Once again, St. Louis played a role, as that’s where Clark’s station wagon gets tagged with graffiti.

A couple of other good movies not in the top 10 include “The Abyss,” which was filmed at the large underwater pool in Bonne Terre, and “Truman,” the biopic on President Harry S. Truman, which was shot at several locations in Truman’s home state. Perhaps an operator like FanDuel Missouri will consider using one of the known actors as an ambassador in the state!


Douglas Pils has been a sports journalist for 30 years in Texas, Arkansas and New York having worked for the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News and Newsday. He most recently ran the Student Media Department at Texas A&M for eight years.

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