Montgomery County's Hollywood History
Montgomery County's connection to the movie industry begins in the early years of the prior century, when a studio operated from Betzwood, just outside what is now Valley Forge National Historical Park. A team of producers, actors and cameramen cranked out more than 100 films before the firm ceased operation in the early 1920s.
From those humble beginnings, Montgomery County has maintained a strong connection to Hollywood, so take some time to explore our cinematic past.
Montco Movie History
The hills and valleys, small towns, and comforting main streets of Montgomery County have served as a backdrop for a number of Hollywood films throughout the years. Here are just a few of our blockbuster sites:
- A portion of the horror classic The Blob (1958) was shot in Royersford, even though most was filmed nearby at The Colonial Theatre. The building that housed the supermarket where the monster was initially repelled by the cold still stands on North Lewis Road. Its original curved roof can still be seen behind the signage for a discount store. More information on the history of the The Blob and the Colonial is available in our blog.
- Royersford was the shooting location for The Lovely Bones (2009), starring Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg.
- Pottstown's The Hill School provided several of the 1970s-era locations for The Mighty Macs (2009), the story of championship girls' basketball team at Immaculata College (now University)
- Ardmore train station, Lower Merion, was part of Backwards (2012), a film about the female coach of a rowing team
- The classic 1940 comedy The Philadelphia Story (1940) was filmed entirely on Hollywood soundstages, but its Main Line setting included the style, look and affluence of places like Bryn Mawr and Gladwyne.
- Location scouts for Taps (1981) decided that, rather than recreate a military academy setting, they would use the real-deal. Valley Forge Military Academy provided authenticity for a cast that included a still-emerging-as-a-star Tom Cruise. Valley Forge National Historical Park was also included in the shoot.
- Montgomery County has made an impact on the small screen, too, with ABC's The Goldbergs. Filming is centered at the Sony Studios in Culver City, California, but the suburban setting is Montco's own Jenkintown. Sharp viewers of this nostalgic sitcom will catch references to Willow Grove Mall and Kremp's Florist in Willow Grove.
- Although not a feature film, the 1984 miniseries George Washington centered on his years as General, making the use of Valley Forge National Historical Park a natural. Barry Bostwick played "His Excellency," with the role of Martha filled by Academy Award Winner Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker, 1963).
- With five Oscar nominations and three Golden Globe nods, Foxcatcher gained quite a bit of critical and audience attention as a 2014 release. Filming locations included sites throughout Pennsylvania, although not at the Newtown Square estate where the true story unfolded. The expansive acreage of Valley Forge National Historical Park provided an authentic background to the film's plot.
- The American Treasure Tour displays hundreds of objects from Tinseltown's past, including posters, photos, press kits, giveaways and soundtrack albums from many Academy Award winners. Among the numerous headshots, eagle-eyed visitors can see:
- Two-time Best Actress Winner Bette Davis: Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938)
- Academy Award titan Katharine Hepburn, who was nominated 31 times and won three: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981)
- Favorite 40s leading man Humphrey Bogart, who, while nominated for three Best Actor Oscars, revived only one: The African Queen (1951)
- The comedic artistry of The Three Stooges never earned them a gold statuette, but they were nominated for Best Short Subject (Comedy) with Men in Black (1934). The full range of the Stooges career can be explored in depth at The Stoogeum in Ambler, a three-story museum devoted to their knuckleheaded brand of mayhem.