1. An Officer and a Gentleman: Richard Gere, take us away! Most of this 1981 love story was shot further north along Puget Sound, but certain aficionados of sap maintain a soft—very soft—spot for Officer in their hearts. If plucky blue-collar gal Debra Winger can land her handsome flyboy, maybe Seattle, too, can be the belle of the ball. Right? Right?!? (A girl can dream, can't she?)
2. Streetwise: Martin Bell's Oscar- nominated 1984 documentary is, despite our affection for 1933's Tugboat Annie, the best film ever made in this town. Homeless teens whore and steal, while still preserving childish dreams for better lives. Shot before the dot-com wealth explosion transformed downtown Seattle, here's a poignant, harrowing reminder of those left behind.
3. Trouble In Mind: Bainbridge Islander Alan Rudolph's goofy 1985 neo-film noir is intentionally anachronistic, setting old-school gumshoe Kris Kristofferson loose in a modern city, with the Monorail jetting overhead and the Seattle Asian Art Museum transformed into the ominous mansion of shady magnate Hilly Blue (Divine, playing a man for once). Maybe not much of a movie, but Trouble somehow captures Seattle's disjointed eccentricity—as if we, too, are forever caught between two eras, past and present.
4. House of Games: In this 1987 study of con artistry and love—or are they the same thing?—David Mamet pits then-wife Lindsay Crouse against Joe Mantegna in a no-holds-barred contest of wills and wiles. Mamet's first effort as a director, House is like the anti-Sleepless in Seattle, utterly cynical and smart—and maybe it accurately represents the city's hard-boiled underbelly. Graft, crime, and "the long con" are for those in-the-know; love is for saps.
5. The Fabulous Baker Boys: Put Michelle Pfeiffer atop a grand piano crooning "Makin' Whoopee" and you've got one very smart, sexy love story. In Steve Kloves' 1989 feature, Jeff and Beau Bridges play competitive sibling pianists vying for Pfeiffer's professional—and personal—partnership. There's something undeniably authentic about the sight of Jeff Bridges sulking along our rain-slickened sidewalks. Here's someone who knows what it's like to suffer from year-round seasonal affective disorder. Get that man a double-tall!
6. Singles: Part-time area resident Cameron Crowe confided to us that the studio delayed releasing his 1992 picture by almost a yearto better capitalize on our nascent grunge rock scene—making his sweetly observant music/dating comedy seem more opportunistic than prophetic. It remains a deserved favorite for renting, even if the nifty soundtrack seems dated and all the local music figures who made cameos have long receded from the charts. O for those pre-dot-com slacker days of yore!
7. American Heart: Again we have Jeff Bridges sulking around Seattle, this time as an ex-con hoping to keep his wary son (Edward Furlong) from following in his larcenous footsteps. This fine 1992 picture owes much of its gritty verisimilitude to director Martin Bell's own documentary Streetwise (see above), nicely dramatizing the overlooked subculture of our downtown streets.
8. Sleepless in Seattle: The progenitor of a thousand bad headlines and T-shirt slogans, Nora Ephron's 1993 wildly popular romantic comedy celebrates houseboats and true love—as if any single-parent architect could afford a view moorage or Meg Ryan. Pilgrimages have been made and tourist junkets organized to view the sights that supposedly inspire amour, yet true lovelorn Seattlites identify more with Bill Pullman's jilted beau than Tom Hank's triumphant Sam Baldwin. We know what it's like to be dumped by the pretty girl, to have our hearts trodden upon, to be the understanding nice guy left standing alone in the rain. (Get me a tissue!)
9. Little Buddha: We're crazy about the Dalai Lama here in this hotbed of alternative spirituality, and so is Bernardo Bertolucci in his 1993 account of a Bhutanese lama possibly reincarnated in the form of a cute little Seattle boy. (How could he not be cute, with Chris Isaak and Bridget Fonda as his parents?) Our city's slick, craven commercialism is supposed to contrast unfavorably with austere Buddhist religious practices, but there's a good reason you can't get yak butter tea at Starbucks—it sucks!
10. Disclosure: Remember when virtual reality software was the future and we all commuted by ferry from our posh Bainbridge Island homes to swanky, high-tech Pioneer Square lofts? Barry Levinson's 1994 adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel has poor family-man Michael Douglas being sexually harassed by Demi Moore! (As if her mere presence doesn't constitute sexual harassment in itself.) "You get back up here and finish what you started," an unbuttoned Moore bellows, ludicrously suggesting that during those 80-hour workweeks anyone had enough time—or energy—for sex in the office. Pop this in your VCR for some unintended laughs and instant '90s nostalgia.
11. Assassins: Stallone! Banderas! What were they thinking? All of Sand Point was aflutter as action maestro Richard Donner brought his crew to Magnuson Park's abandoned naval air station hangars to produce this 1995 flick. Was the location shooting windfall enough to trigger more Hollywood activity in Seattle? Go ask a dolly grip on the unemployment line, then look for all the Vancouver, B.C., landmarks in the next film you see that's supposedly set here.