The weekend of Super Bowl LVIII is upon us, and it’s been a long and crazy season to get here. With playoff games being delayed for weather, the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins battling it out in -27 degree wind chill, Buffalo Bills fans shoveling snow out of their stadium, and the Detroit Lions making it to the NFC Championship Game for the first time in thirty-two years – and only the second time in franchise history – it was a playoff season to remember. And even the regular season saw some crazy moments, with 22% of the league’s starting quarterback’s suffering from season-ending injuries, Joe Flacco making a comeback with the Cleveland Browns, and the Dolphins scoring the most points by an NFL team since 1966 when they dominated the Denver Broncos in a 70-20 matchup.

All of it has led to now: the San Francisco 49ers taking on the defending champion the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas. Not only is Kansas City out to defend their title with Patrick Mahomes leading the charge again, but this will be a rematch of Super Bowl LVI where Andy Reid and the Chiefs bested Kyle Shanahan and the Niners 31-20. This time though, the 49ers have their very own Mr. Irrelevant leading the way. The last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy will look to keep his new updated title of Mr. Relevant by bringing the Vince Lombardi Trophy home to San Francisco. Ahead of the big game, we’re looking at some of our favorite movies and television shows that shine spotlights on the two cities at play: San Francisco and Kansas City. That’s Kansas City, Missouri, mind you. Not Kansas. 

San Francisco

Vertigo (1958)

Master film director Alfred Hitchcock was no stranger to San Francisco, shooting three of his masterpieces in the city: Shadow of a Doubt (1943), The Birds (1963), and what many consider to be one of the greatest films of all time, Vertigo. Now that’s a lot of important film history for a city to have to carry. The recently retired police detective Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) is hired as a private investigator to look into the strange behavior of his friend’s wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak) by following her around the city. The film takes full advantage of its on-location shooting to show off the city of San Francisco, with Scottie even living on the famous winding Lombard Street. Other prominent locations featured include the Mission San Francisco de Asís, the Legion of Honor art museum, Fort Point – which Madeleine leaps into – and Mission San Juan Bautista sets the stage for the film’s climactic moments.

Dirty Harry (1971)

It would be practically impossible to talk about films set in San Francisco and not include one of Clint Eastwood’s most talked about roles – outside of his Westerns, of course. Eastwood’s first appearance as San Francisco Police Department’s contemptuous Inspector Harry Callahan gave rise to not one, not two, but four sequels, so we guess you could say he felt lucky when taking the role. Inspired by the real-world case of the Northern California Zodiac Killer, Callahan works the case of serial killer Scorpio (Andy Robinson) around the city. Appropriately enough for the Super Bowl, one of the most notable locations that you can spot in the film is Kezar Stadium, the former home of the San Francisco 49ers. At the time, Kezar could hold about 59,000 fans, though now of course the Niners call Levi’s Stadium home, which boasts a seating capacity of 68,500. Other famous locations in the movie include San Francisco’s City Hall, Mount Davidson Park, Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, and as is expected, the Golden Gate Bridge. It just wouldn’t be a movie in San Francisco without it.

Full House (1987 – 1995)

While there is a long list of movies and tv shows that have been set in San Francisco, it feels wrong to not talk about the family sitcom Full House, even if most of the show was taped at studios in Los Angeles despite the Tanner family living in San Francisco. In fact, only one episode was filmed in San Francisco – “Comet’s Excellent Adventure.” But its memorable opening credits scene set to “Everywhere You Look” was filmed in the Bay Area and showcases some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge that Danny (Bob Saget) drives the family across in his prized 1961 Oldsmobile 88.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, Will Smith stars alongside his real-life son Jaden Smith in the biographical drama of a homeless salesman and single father trying to improve his family’s situation in 1981 San Francisco. The film’s misspelt title is taken from a mural outside five-year-old Christopher’s school, located and filmed in Chinatown. Struggling to sell portable – yet awkwardly bulky – bone density scanners, Chris shifts his career path to try out stockbroking after a chance encounter with a businessman. Along his journey, plenty of BART stations are featured, along with Duboce Park, the Tenderloin District, and the North Beach Pizza café where Chris and Christopher share a meal. And for the second time on our list, the (former) home of none other than the San Francisco 49ers makes an appearance. This time though, it’s Candlestick Park, where the Niners played from 1971-2013. The park also doubled as a baseball stadium for the San Francisco Giants from 1960-1999. In the movie, Chris and Christopher are invited to watch a 49ers game with businessman Walter Ribbon (Kurt Fuller) in his private box. And in one last overlook of the city, the beautiful Oakland Bay Bridge shines in the uplifting final moments of the film.

Ant-Man Franchise (2015 – 2023)

Apart of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Ant-Man series starring Paul Rudd – who ironically is from Kansas himself, and quite an avid Kansas City fanatic – takes place extensively in the San Francisco area. The technologically innovative city is a perfect setting for Dr. Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) tech company Pym Technologies, and the packed area and wacky streets make for some fun action-packed scenes – especially when those scenes involve superheroes the size of skyscrapers and giant Hello Kitty Pez candy dispensers. Principal photography shined a spotlight on the Tenderloin and Buena Vista Park neighborhoods, though plenty of other San Francisco landmarks can be seen throughout the franchise, including the Golden Gate Bridge of course.

Kansas City

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

It’s a Thanksgiving classic, and who doesn’t have their fair share of nightmare travel stories? You wouldn’t think that a simple flight from New York to Chicago would involve an extended journey through Missouri, and yet for strangers Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy), it does. A blizzard forces their plane to land in Wichita, Kansas instead, stranding its passengers for the night. With air travel no longer an option and determined to make it home for Thanksgiving, Neal opts for a pair of train tickets to Chicago instead – separate cars, after the two begrudgingly shared a bed the night prior. All goes well until the two are once again stranded in Jefferson City, Missouri when the train breaks down. They never get to see Kansas City, but they do see another major city in the state, St. Louis, and the St. Louis Lambert International Airport makes an appearance when Neal unsuccessfully rents a car, but successfully secures the film an R-rating by going off on the rental agent.

Casino (1995)

Given the title, you’d probably be surprised to find this Martin Scorsese crime drama on a list about Kansas City. And you’re right. While the film – starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone – centers on the Midwest Mafia’s involvement with the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas, a few of the films critical moments take place in Kansas City. The Chicago Outfit sets associates up in Vegas to skim off the casinos, but as in any Scorsese film, things turn violent and don’t exactly go as planned. Now, the Missouri-set scenes weren’t filmed in Kansas City but instead around the Las Vegas area, but we’re still putting this one on our list. It isn’t until a Kansas City grocery store, owned by an incompetent Mafia underboss, is bugged by the FBI that things take a turn for the worse back in the Midwest.

Gone Girl (2014)

While not set in Kansas City specifically, Gillian Flynn’s novel turned cult classic film Gone Girl takes place in the fictitious town of North Carthage, Missouri. Not to be confused with the real-world Carthage, Missouri. Most of the film was shot on location in Cape Girardeau on the eastern side of the state, which holds true to the novel’s original setting as well. The prominent landmark of the Common Pleas Courthouse is featured several times throughout the film, where Nick (Ben Affleck) is questioned about the mysterious and sudden disappearance of his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike). Oh, and Nick’s been having an affair this whole time, so things don’t exactly look great for him. Until he figures out the scheme that Amy’s concocted to try and frame him for her murder. Who would have guessed the wild adventures that one could have in a small town in Missouri?

Guardians of the Galaxy Franchise (2014 – 2023)

Here’s another film that you might see and be confused about why it’s on this list, thinking “wait, doesn’t this take place in outer space?” And again, you’d be right for the most part. San Francisco may have Ant-Man, but Missouri gets to have Star-Lord (Chris Pratt). While most of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise does take place in the cosmos, none of it would have happened if it weren’t for a few critical (and tragic) scenes set in Missouri. At the start of the first film, Peter Quill loses his mother to her battle with cancer in 1988, though she leaves him with his beloved “Awesome Mix” tape full of hits ranging from Blue Swede to David Bowie just before he’s kidnapped from his home state of Missouri. The sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) takes us back to Missouri again to the meeting of Peter’s mother, a younger Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) and the Celestial Ego (Kurt Russell). And finally, after saving the whole galaxy yet again, Peter returns to Missouri for some family time with his grandfather, which, as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) reminds all of us, is indeed on Earth.

The Last of Us (2023 – )

Based on the popular video game, HBO’s post-apocalyptic original series full of fungal zombies that have overrun society spans nearly the entire United States, from Boston to Wyoming. Tucked away in there, between all the city ruins and infected “clickers,” survivors Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) visit a small haven at the Kansas City QZ – or quarantine zone. Or, well, it’s still pretty brutal actually, especially when a massive army of infected rise from under the earth, bringing a humongous “bloater” with them that destroys a good portion of what’s left of the city. Capturing the Kansas City skyline caused traffic disruptions during filming, but hey, at least the KCMO City Hall and Oak Tower are still standing even after society collapses. But not even the end of the world could stop the horrendous mess of Kansans and Missourians alike jamming up Interstate 35.

  • Editorial