The Tuesday Top Ten: Top 10 Movies Filmed in the Lowcountry

BJ D’Elia IV

There are many reasons producers and directors choose to film their movies here in the Lowcountry but the biggest may be because it’s so beautiful here. Some would say it’s the most picturesque part of the country. Add in our stunning historic buildings and landmarks as well as lower production costs and it’s a wonder why more movies aren’t made here. Below is my list of Top Ten Movies filmed in the Lowcountry.


The Big Chill – Columbia Pictures – 1983

Filmed in Beaufort, the “Big Chill” follows group of college friends who reunite years later for the funeral of a friend. The ensemble cast includes, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, William Hurt and Jobeth Williams. Kevin Costner played the dead friend but his face never appeared on screen. While the movie didn’t win any Oscars, it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The movie also had a very popular soundtrack that included songs by Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and The Rolling Stones.


Cold Mountain – Miramax – 2003

Renee Zellweger won an Oscar for her role in “Cold Mountain,” which was filmed in Charleston. The plot centers on a wounded Confederate soldier who deserts so he can return to the love of his life. Other stars in this film directed by Anthony Minghella include Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Donald Sutherland. This film was not only a hit with reviewers but audiences too. It grossed more than double its budget.


Consenting Adults – Hollywood Pictures – 1992

Directed by Alan J. Pakula, this thriller was filmed in Charleston and Berkeley County. “Consenting Adults,” stars Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio who play husband and wife along with Kevin Spacey in the role of the very creepy neighbor. Many critics didn’t like the movie including Gene Siskel but his sparring partner Roger Ebert said the film was a good and had interesting characters.


Full Metal Jacket – Warner Brothers – 1987

Directed by Stanley Kubrick – the man who brought us such great films as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Dr. Strangelove,”  “Full Metal Jacket” was filmed on Parris Island. The movie follows two marines (Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio) as they train and later fight in the Vietnam War. This picture also stars R. Lee Ermey who played the unrelenting drill sergeant. The role wasn’t too much of a stretch for Ermey who was a drill sergeant during Vietnam.


Great Santini – Orion Pictures – 1979

My dad is a big fan of military movies and took me and my brother to see the “Great Santini” when it first came out. Looking back, we were probably too young, but it was a movie that stuck with me and I’ve rewatched it several times since. Filmed in Beaufort, it stars Robert Duvall as an abusive fighter pilot, Blythe Danner as his wife and Michael O’Keefe as his rebellious son. The film is based on the book of the same name by Lowcountry author Pat Conroy. Critic Roger Ebert said of the picture, “There are moments so unpredictable and yet so natural they feel just like the spontaneity of life itself.”


The Jackal – Mutual Fim Company – 1997

Released in 1997, “The Jackal” was filmed in Charleston, Summerville and Dorchester County. The movie is about the hunt for a paid assassin. It stars Sidney Poitier, Richard Gere and Bruce Willis and is a loose remake of the 1973 film, “The Day of the Jackal.” While many critics gave this movie so-so reviews, it was a big hit with audiences grossing nearly $160 million.


Legend of Bagger Vance- DreamWorks – 2000

This film, directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron is about a struggling golfer who gets back in the swing thanks to a mystical caddie. Several key scenes were shot on Kiawah which is known for having several of the countries most beautiful courses. Jack Lemmon was the movie’s narrator and this picture turned out to be his last.


Something to Talk About – Warner Brothers – 1995

The all star cast for “Something to Talk About,” includes Julia Roberts, Dennis Quaid, Robert Duvall, Gena Rowlands and Kyra Sedgwick. In this comedy/drama, Roberts character moves out of her home when she learns her husband played by Dennis Quaid has been cheating. Parts of the movie were filmed in Beaufort and at the Davant Plantation in Ridgeland. Bonnie Raitt wrote and performed this picture’s theme song of the same name and Sedgwick got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


The Notebook – New Line – 2004

This very popular movie is based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks. “The Notebook” stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as young lovers forced  apart by class differences. The film was shot in several Lowcountry locations including Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Seabrook and Wadmalaw. At the time of its release, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday wrote, “Audiences craving big, gooey over-the-top romance have their must-see summer movie in ‘The Notebook’.”


The Patriot- Columbia Pictures – 2000

“The Patriot” stars Mel Gibson as a farmer who joins a colonial militia after his son is killed by a British officer. Shot entirely on location in South Carolina scenes were filmed at the Mansfield Plantation, Middleton Place and the Cistern Yard at the College of Charleston. The movie earned decent praise by critics and was especially popular with overseas moviegoers. This film was nominated for three Academy Awards.