Louisiana as Film Location, 1920-2002

After failing to start its own indigenous film economy, Louisiana continues to figure prominently into Hollywood films. From the golden age of film, through the introduction of television, cable TV, and then the Internet, Louisiana becomes used primarily as a filmic place. In films ranging from A Streetcar Named Desire, King Creole, Easy Rider, and even Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (they go to carnival in New Orleans), the city of New Orleans figures prominently as a character in the film narrative.

In the clips below, New Orleans as a film character is usually caught between binaries that represent New Orleans as the opposite of “American,” unable to be assimilated into the rest of U.S. history and culture. Sometimes portrayed as the traditional Old South and other times as the exotic Caribbean, New Orleans in Hollywood films was always more/less traditional and more/less exotic than elsewhere.

At this time, local municipalities were known to provide incentives to major film producers, but there was little concerted effort to create a standardized incentive package for production.