Movies Set or Filmed in HawaiiThis is a featured page

We thought we would compile a list of movies that were set in or filmed in Hawaii, for those of you who want "to get in the mood" for Hawaii in the months leading up to MLA '09. Please note that NOT all the films are 5-star, but they've been included because they can still be entertaining and show off beautiful Hawaii.

Films set in or about Hawaii

Big Bounce -
A small-time con artist and a Hawaiian real estate developer's mischevious, enterprising mistress team up for a potential $200,000 score. I'll admit I never saw this one, and it didn't get the best reviews, but you'll see Hawaiian scenery.

Bird of Paradise - Hard to find film. Made in 1951 and stars Debra Paget, Louis Jourdan and Jeff Chandler. It also had a famous hula kumu hula (master teacher of hula) Iolani Luahine. A Hawaiian princess falls for a Frenchman. If my memory serves me correct the Hawaiians in the film sacrifice the princess to their gods in a volcano. If you decide to try to buy this one or rent it, be careful the only DVD available is of the Joel McCray 1932 version not the 1951 version.

Blue Crush - As a hard-core surfer girl prepares for a big competition, she finds herself falling for a football player in Hawaii on vacation.

Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley filmed this back in 1961. Fun plot with Angela Landsburyas his mom. Hawaii favorite Hilo Hattie is in this one. You get to see Hawaii in the 60s, some of it still looks like it does in the film.

Endless Summer - classic surf documentary by Bruce Brown, about surfing all over the world.

Endless Summer 2 - Bruce Brown updates his surf documentary 30 years later.

50 First Dates - Stars Adam Sandler, RobSchneider and Drew Barrymore. Sandler is a vet who works at an aquatic park and falls for a girl (Barrymore) who won't remember who he is /was because of her medical condition (loss of short term memory). Rob Schneider plays a local guy with a pidgin accent and a really interesting eye problem. His pidgin accents not bad. See Hawaiian language 101 page to read about pidgin and learn some words.

From Here to Eternity - In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

Hawaii and sequel The Hawaiians - based on the book by Michener. Traces the history of Hawaii from its geological beginnings through the coming of the Hawaiians to the coming of Europeans and beyond. The first movie is a lot better than the sequel.

Heart of the Sea - a documentary about Rell Sunn, a pioneering female surfer, and her struggle with cancer - very moving!

Honeymoon in Vegas - A fun romp that takes place in two of my favorite spots in the world - Las Vegas and Hawaii. Stars James Caan, Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. Nicholas Cage loves his girlfriend but somehow manages to gamble (literally) her away and then goes after her. This film even has 34 flying Elvis impersonators.

In Harm's Way - One of the great WWII films. Directed by Otto Preminger and stars John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Patricia Neal. Another war movie that starts at the attack on Pearl Harbor where the Wayne's character is disgraced (unreasonably so) and must redeem himself. Lots of interesting side stories that depict the characters equally realistically and over-dramatically. Just a good old Hollywood war drama.

Lilo and Stitch, Lilo and Stitch: The Series, and Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch - Technically none of this movie was "shot" in Hawaii because its an animated film and series. Lilo is a little girl looking for a pet and Stitch is an alien looking for a place to hang while dodging the Galactic Federation. Disney has a great website which includes listening to the great music from the movie.

Molokai - The Story of Father Damien - The true story of the 19th century priest who volunteered to go to the island of Molokai to console and care for the lepers. Note: The cause for Father Damien's canonization is moving forward (See the Catholic Review Online May 5, 2008 article).

Paradise, Hawaiian Style - Elvis again this time as a helicopter pilot. For those in the know this one has James Shigeta and Donna Butterworth. Another fun film with great views of the islands in the 60s.

Pearl Harbor - A Michael Bay film with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kate Beckinsale. Really nice special effects but I just didn't connect with this one. One of the chief criticisms of this film is how creative they were with the events.

Picture Bride - Traces the life of a young Japanese woman who comes to Hawaii to marry (a man she doesn't know) and make a life. I really connected with this film. My grandmother came to Hawaii and married a much older man (she was 18 - he was in his 40's) and my family was the result.

Step into Liquid - Surf documentary focused on big wave surfing.

Surfing for Life - a documentary about old-time surfers - very inspiring!

Race the Sun - A bunch of high school misfits in Hawaii, introduced by their new teacher, attend a science fair in which they draw up inspiration to build their own solar car and win a trip to compete in the 1990 World Solar Challenge in Australia.

The Ride -a cocky surfer has an accident and is transported back to old Waikiki where he meets Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing. Through his interaction with Duke he learns more about himself, the sport of surfing and just what a unique and special icon/person Duke is for Hawaii.

Tora! Tora! Tora! - Epic drama about the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. Portrays both sides of the story with real Japanese actors. Much better than the newer film Pearl Harbor. One of our members has a friend from high school in this film. He plays the telegraph operator (Japanese-American - ironic) delivering the telegram from Washington DC warning (just a little too late) the Pacific command of an imminent attack.

Windtalkers - Starring Nicholas Cage and Adam Beach. Spotlighted the Navajo codetalkers, which were Native Americans that were used as radio operators using their language as a code to befuddle the Japanese during WWII. Again one of our members knew someone who played one of the thousands of "Japanese" in this film.

Films shot in Hawaii

Aztec Rex - Definitely a movie shot here but not about Hawaii. In this one a band of conquistadors find a village of Aztecs who worship a tyrannosaurus rex. The conquistadors kill the tyrannosaurus rex and then angry mom rex shows up. This is one of those really bad B movies (or maybe C movies) from the Sci-Fi channel but you do get to see Hawaii. It looks like they're filming at Kualoa Ranch which is on the north side of the island of Oahu (where Lost is filmed). I found one Hawaii resident in the film Kalani Queypo - he played one of the Aztec warriors.

Devil at Four O'clock - Stars Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra. Tracy plays a cranky priest who enlists 3 convicts as labor for his children's leper (Hansen's disease) colony. The island's volcano goes into overdrive and the convicts help Tracy get the children to safety.

Donovan's Reef - fun romp with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Jack Warden, Dorothy Lamour and Cesar Romero (he's really funny in this movie as the French ambassador).

HeatStroke (2007) - Another Sci-Fi Channel movie. Also filmed at Kualoa (where Lost is filmed). It is a better than average Sci-Fi Channel movie. I only vaguely remember the plot - something about a model and ex-Ranger-type guy who are stuck on some tropical location with aliens that are plotting to turn earth into some kind of methane-heaven (terraforming). CGI is good as all Sci-Fi Channel films have this. Again, Hawaii looks good except that no one knows its Hawaii.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - One of members got the inside scoop that part of this one was filmed here in Hawaii. Set to be in theaters May 22, 2008.

Joe Versus the Volcano - A Tom Hanks - Meg Ryan comedy. When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live.
I love this ridiculous movie!

Jurassic Park - All of the Jurassic Park movies were filmed on Kauai. The story told is that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas supposedly come to Hawaii to build sandcastles as a lucky charm before filming their latest movies.

King Kong (1976 remake) - Stars Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. Produced by Dino de Laurentiis. The only good thing that can be said for this film is the viewer can see the Twin Towers again since their featured in the climax of the film.

None by the Brave - another film with Sinatra. According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database), only film directed by Sinatra. Takes place during WWII in the Pacific, Japanese and Americans call a temporary truce when they become stranded on the "desert island."

Raiders of the Lost Ark - the first of the Indiana Jones movies. Indiana goes looking for the Ark of the Covenant.

Six Days, Seven Nights - Harrison Ford with Anne Heche are stranded on a desert island and Heche really needs to get off and back to her fiancee. Ford grows on her which turns this into a romantic comedy.

South Pacific - The fabulous musical! Can a girl from Little Rock find happiness with a mature French planter she got to know one enchanted evening away from the military hospital where she is a nurse?

Tears of the Sun - Bruce Willis film set in Africa but filmed in Hawaii. Willis heads a team sent into Nigeria to rescue an American doctor.

Waterworld - One of our members also knows someone who worked on this film . Stars Kevin Costner.The plot is that our world suffered a cataclysmic event and it's one big ocean - no land. Costner plays a mutant (he has gills and can breathe underwater). Everyone else in the film is looking for land and there's a map that shows the location of an island. The ocean comes off looking really beautiful but the plot is particularly cheesy and the script is just awful (just an opinion).

You, Me and Dupree - After attending his best friend's wedding in Hawaii, Dupree (Owen Wilson) gets fired from his job, temporarily moves in with the newly weds (Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson) and manages to overstay his welcome. Comedy/Romance.

TV Shows set in or filmed in Hawaii:

Flight 29 Down - The story of 7 kids lost on a deserted island in the Pacific. A Disney Channel show.
Hawaiian Eye - Set against the beautiful tropical landscape of Honolulu this series centered around the cases of Hawaiian Eye Private Investigations and the two handsome, slick, tough-guy detectives who ran the firm.
Hawaii Five-O -Book'em Danno! Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord), Danny (James McArthur), Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong), Kono (Zulu) formed the elite team of the Hawaii State Police. The show ran for twelve seasons and viewers followed them around Oahu, the neighbor islands, and international desintations as they raced about solving crimes. Iolani Palace was their office, and viewers became familiar with the other sites of Oahu --- from Waikiki, to downtown Chinatown, then all the way to the pineapple fields of Leeward Oahu, and around the island to Makapuu Point. It is easy to spot where they filmed -- and that is a tour all by itself!
Lost - The survivors of a plane crash are forced to live with each other on a remote island, a dangerous new world that poses unique threats of its own.
Magnum PI - The adventures of a Hawaii based private investigator.

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