Utah offers filmmakers a variety of scenes

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    By BRIAN THOMPSON

    Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, John Wayne, Michael J. Fox, River Phoenix, Don Knotts, John Travolta, Kathleen Turner, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase and Michael Douglas all have something in common.

    They are all on the list of movie stars who have been brought to Utah’s scenic landscapes for a film shoot.

    With its rugged mountains and sun dried deserts, Utah offers a variety of filming locations that have attracted film makers for decades.

    In the ’50s, John Wayne did a number of movies in Utah. “Rio Grande” (1950) was filmed in Utah’s Mexican Hat area. Wayne returned to Utah again in 1956 to shoot “The Searchers” in Monument Valley.

    Also shot in Monument Valley was “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), along with several scenes in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) and the Academy Award-winning “Forrest Gump” (1994). Much of “Back to the Future III” was shot at the Monument Valley State Park.

    In 1969, Robert Redford began his long-running relationship with Utah when he came to Zion’s National Park to shoot “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He returned to the same area 10 years later for “The Electric Horseman” with Jane Fonda. Selected scenes were also shot at Zion’s for two of the ’80s biggest hits, “Romancing the Stone” (1984) and its sequel, “Jewel of the Nile” (1985).

    Utah’s Glen Canyon became the backdrop for the primate world of “Planet of the Apes” in 1968. The same area also brought Tim Conway and Don Knotts to Utah for the filming of Disney’s “Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” (1979).

    Another much-used location is Utah’s Arches National Park. Spielberg’s 1989 smash hit “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” chose this site for scenes featuring River Phoenix.

    Arches also provided much of the scenery behind the production of 1991’s “Thelma and Louise” and “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold” (1994).

    Moab provided some of the desert in which Kurt Russell searched frantically for his wife in “Breakdown” (1997), and Wendover, Utah, is featured in 1996’s blockbuster “Independence Day.”

    Just north of Provo on I-15 is Lehi, which became the conservative town that would not let Kevin Bacon dance in 1984’s “Footloose.” Lake Powell’s landscape was the set on which much of John Travolta’s thriller “Broken Arrow” (1996) was filmed.

    In 1985, the city of Ogden welcomed Chevy Chase for the filming of many scenes in the hit comedy “Fletch.” It was also in Ogden that Casey Siemaszko fought the school bully in “Three O’Clock High” (1987).

    Salt Lake City has also been the site of many film shoots. In 1997, the crew of the action/adventure film “Con Air” came to Salt Lake. Many of the winter scenes in Jim Carrey’s “Dumb and Dumber” (1994) were also shot there.

    Last summer’s dark comedy “Clay Pigeons” was filmed entirely in Utah in locations near Salt Lake, Brigham City and Logan.

    And for those in the Provo/Springville area, James Belushi and Timothy Dalton just finished shooting their new movie “Made Men” here a few weeks ago. This film, which tells the story of a man who moves to a small, quiet town to escape the mob, can be seen on HBO early next year.

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