Ranking the top 25 movies filmed in or about the Southcoast by IMDb

Hollywood may be almost 3,000 miles away, but it’s closer than you think. The Southcoast has been a small part of the entertainment industry since its start, the setting for movies going back even a century, and a growing part of film production today

They’re not all successful, and not all well-known. A few might never even see the light of day. TV network AMC began, but abandoned, production of a series set in the 1930s called “Invitation to a Bonfire,” scrapping the whole thing due to cost-cutting measures at the network. Since all eight episodes were never completed, it’s unlikely the miniseries will ever be shown. 

Ranking movies is always going to be a fool’s errand — but let’s be fools for a minute and wonder: which movie shot in or about the Southcoast is considered the best one? Obviously, with independent and low-budget movies being made by filmmakers all the time, this isn’t an exhaustive list. But we’ll count down 25 of the many notable films made in or about the Southcoast by IMDb rating. We’ll even include how you can watch them yourself, if you want to complete your own personal “Southcoast On Screen” checklist. 

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A newspaper ad for the film "Below the Hill," shot in Fall River.

Below the Hill (1963) — unrated 

IMDb doesn’t have any ratings for this hard-hitting indie drama, shot in and set in the tenements of Fall River, using an all-local cast and crew in 1963. Writer and director Angus Bailey, then editorial page editor for The Herald News, took a three-week vacation from his job to shoot his script — a risque story about mill worker Fred Beauchemin who loses his job and becomes involved with a married neighbor. “Below the Hill” was entered into the Venice Film Festival but not widely seen. In fact, it’s still hard to get a hold of, with the Fall River Historical Society owning one of the only copies. 

How can I see it? You can borrow a copy of the DVD from the Sails library system — or, look to YouTube, where it’s been uploaded in two parts

Durfee High graduate Marc Megna, personal trainer/sports performance coach and Miami businessman, is the subject of the nearly completed documentary "Just a Kid from Fall River." [Megnamethod.com]

Just a Kid from Fall River (2019) — unrated 

There aren’t any IMDb ratings for this Fall River film yet either, a nearly two-hour film about the life of Fall River native Marc Megna. The inspirational sports documentary tells how Megna, a standout Durfee High football player, rose from a rough childhood where he struggled with bullying and self-esteem issues to become a pro in the NFL and CFL, a fitness coach, model, and successful business owner in Miami.  

How can I see it? Visit justakidfromfallriver.com for links to multiple streaming sites to buy it, including Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo and more. 

A movie poster for the film "Frank the Bastard."

Frank the Bastard (2013) — 5.0 

This tight thriller about a New Yorker who returns to her New England home to uncover the mystery of her mother’s death is set in Maine but shot in Westport, Dartmouth and New Bedford. The cast is rounded out by character-actor favorites William Sadler and Chris Sarandon. 

How can I see it? Good luck — there are no streaming offers anywhere, and it seems to be unavailable on DVD. But you can see the trailer on YouTube

A movie poster for the film "Fairhaven."

Fairhaven (2012) — 5.1 

This short comedy-drama was shot in the town of the same name, as well as neighboring New Bedford. Starring Chris Messina, Tom O’Brien and Sarah Paulson, it tells the story of friends reuniting after one returns home to Fairhaven for a funeral. 

How can I see it?You can rent it on YouTube or Amazon, or stream it for free on the Tubi and FreeVee apps. 

A movie poster for the film "R.I.P.D."

R.I.P.D. (2013) — 5.6 

This big-budget action-comedy based on a comic book series stars Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as undead police officers ridding the earth of monsters. The film was shot in and around Boston, including scenes in Raynham. 

How can I see it?Rent or buy “R.I.P.D.” online at iTunes, YouTube, Amazon and more

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Christina Ricci portrayed Lizzie Borden in "Lizzie Borden Took an Ax" and "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles."

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax (2014) — 5.8 

It was not filmed in Fall River (and you can totally tell), but this Lifetime TV movie tells the grisly tale of Fall River’s most infamous resident. Starring Christina Ricci, “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax” is a campy, winking take on the story, successful enough to have spawned a sequel: the eight-episode miniseries “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles,” which is even campier. 

How can I see it?Both the film and the series are on iTunes, Amazon, or Google Play — or borrow the DVDs from the Sails library system. 

Kristen Stewart and Chloë Sevigny in LIZZIE

Photo credit: Eliza Morse

Courtesy of Saban Films and Roadside Attractions

Lizzie (2018) — 5.9 

A notch above the Ricci version is the Chloe Sevigny version of Lizzie Borden’s story — still not shot in Fall River, though. This version is still speculative, but moodier and more grounded and dramatic. It was a passion project for Sevigny, who visited the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River a handful of times for research. 

How can I see it?Stream it on the HBO Max or Plex apps, and it’s also available to rent or buy online. 

A movie poster for the film "Down to the Sea in Ships."

Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) — 6.1 

The oldest movie on this list, and another silent film, Clara Bow stars in the story of a 19th century Quaker whaling family living in New Bedford. It’s notable for even having footage shot in New Bedford and at the Apponagansett Meeting House in Dartmouth. 

How can I see it? It’s unavailable in any legitimate form, but there’s a restored version for free on YouTube. 

"Jungleland," stars Charlie Hunnam as Stan Kaminsky and Jack O'Connell as his brother, Lion Kaminsky. [Photo courtesy | Paramount Pictures]

Jungleland (2019) — 6.2 

Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell star in this gritty boxing drama about two brothers who go on a road trip to enter a no-holds-barred match. The film will have locals Leo-pointing at the screen as it makes extensive use of notable locations in Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton, Seekonk, Swansea and more — including the Venus de Milo restaurant, doubling as a hotel.  

How can I see it?It’s streaming on Amazon Prime, Paramount Plus, and Epix, or available to rent or buy online. 

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A movie poster for the film "The Sea Beast."

The Sea Beast (1926) — 6.2 

This silent film stars John Barrymore as Captain Ahab in an early, silent film version of “Moby Dick.” It’s the first of many, many versions of Herman Melville’s novel to make it to screen, though this one is notable for deviating from the novel so wildly that it provides a lengthy romantic backstory for Ahab and — spoiler alert — a happy ending in which he kills the whale and comes home to his wife in New Bedford. It was such a success at the time that Barrymore remade it four years later in a talkie version, this time properly called “Moby Dick.” 

How can I see it? Like a lot of silent films, “The Sea Beast” is difficult to find, but the entire film is available to see for free on its Wikipedia page. The 1930 version is unavailable. 

A poster for the miniseries "Moby Dick" (2011).

Moby Dick (2011) — 6.2 

This version of the Melville novel stars William Hurt as Ahab, future Marvel star Charlie Cox as Ishmael, Ethan Hawke as Starbuck, and Gillian Anderson as Elizabeth, Ahab’s wife, in a four-part TV miniseries that also takes significant liberties with the book (namely, with the inclusion of Ahab’s wife). 

How can I see it?It’s available for streaming on several free apps, including FreeVee, Roku, Tubi, PlutoTV and more

A poster for the film "Spenser Confidential."

Spenser Confidential (2020) — 6.2 

Local-boy-makes-good Mark Wahlberg stars in this action comedy based on the Spenser detective novels of Robert B. Parker. Taking place in Boston, Wahlberg is Spenser, an ex-cop who teams up with his friend Hawk (Winston Duke) to solve the case of murdered police officers. 

How can I see it? It’s streaming exclusively on Netflix. 

A poster for the film "Passionada."

Passionada (2003) — 6.2 

Shot and set in New Bedford, this romantic comedy-drama stars Sofia Milos as a Portuguese widow whose fisherman husband was lost at sea. Jason Isaacs is the professional gambler who falls for her. It’s rife with New Bedford hotspots and local locations, and even features some fado music. 

How can I see it?Buy or rent it online at Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and more, or borrow it from the Sails library system. 

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A poster for the film "Surrogates."

Surrogates (2009) — 6.3 

Bruce Willis stars as an FBI agent in a futuristic Boston, where people interact almost exclusively through remote-controlled robots, to solve a murder. Scenes for this were shot all over eastern Massachusetts, including Taunton. 

How can I see it?Buy or rent it online at Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and more, or borrow it from the Sails library system. 

A poster for the film "About Fate."

About Fate (2022) — 6.3 

This romantic comedy stars Emma Roberts and Thomas Mann as strangers who find themselves drawn together by a series of coincidences one New Year’s Eve. Scenes for this were shot in Taunton, Brockton, and other cities and towns near Boston. 

How can I see it? It’s streaming now if you have Amazon Prime, or available to buy or rent online. 

A movie poster for the film "Knight and Day."

Knight and Day (2010) — 6.3 

There’s no bigger star on the planet than Tom Cruise, and you can see him speeding along Route 18 in New Bedford in this action comedy thriller co-starring Cameron Diaz.  

How can I see it?Buy or rent it online at Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and more, or borrow it from the Sails library system. 

A poster for the miniseries "Moby Dick" (1998).

Moby Dick (1998) — 6.4 

Not the last adaptation of the New Bedford-set Melville novel to make this list, but one of the better ones, this made-for-TV miniseries version stars Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab and Gregory Peck as Father Mapple — decades after Peck starred as Ahab in another version (more on that in a minute). 

How can I see it?This two-part series is available for free on FreeVee, Tubi, Roku, PlutoTV and more. 

Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) and Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) in Columbia Pictures' "Devotion."

Devotion (2022) — 6.7 

One of two films released in 2022 about Naval aviators starring Glen Powell (the other being “Top Gun: Maverick”), “Devotion” tells the true story of Fall River native and Medal of Honor winner Tom Hudner. Powell is the dashing Hudner, who flew in the Korean War alongside wingman Ensign Jesse Brown, the first Black Navy aviator. 

How can I see it? It’s streaming exclusively on Paramount Plus, but you can buy it at Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes and more. 

An ad for the 1934 film "You Can't Buy Everything" in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.

You Can’t Buy Everything (1934) — 6.7 

This drama is loosely based on the story of New Bedford’s Hetty Green, “the Witch of Wall Street,” known as one of the richest but most miserly people of the Gilded Age. In the film, her extreme stinginess causes her to lose touch with her son. 

How can I see it? You can’t. It’s not streaming anywhere. Hetty remains stingy from beyond her grave.

A poster for the film "Sweet Thing."

Sweet Thing (2020) — 7.0 

Indie filmmaker Alexandre Rockwell crafted this small black-and-white drama about two siblings living in poverty with an alcoholic father and an absentee mom, who run away to find themselves. It was shot in and around New Bedford and Westport. 

How can I see it?It’s streaming on Hoopla, Kanopy and Mubi, or available to buy or rent online. 

The poster for the Netflix film "Don't Look Up," directed by Adam McKay.

Don’t Look Up (2021) — 7.2 

Comic filmmaker Adam McKay put together an all-star cast — Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett and more — in this satire about climate change and the apocalypse. But the Battleship Massachusetts in Fall River is the star of the show. 

How can I see it? It’s streaming exclusively on Netflix

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A movie poster for the film "Thirteen Days."

Thirteen Days (2001) — 7.3 

Speaking of Battleship Cove, the Destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy makes an appearance in this drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 starring Kevin Costner. 

How can I see it?Buy or rent it online at Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and more, or borrow it from the Sails library system

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"MOBY DICK" (1956) - Directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.

Moby Dick (1956) — 7.3 

The definitive version of Melville’s novel, starring Gregory Peck as the obsessed Ahab, was even partially shot in New Bedford. Hollywood legend Orson Welles portrays Father Mapple at the pulpit of the Seamen’s Bethel. 

How can I see it?See it free on Roku, Hoopla or Tubi, and buy or rent it online. 

Elizabeth Montgomery appears as Lizzie Borden in the 1975 TV film "The Legend of Lizzie Borden."

The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) — 7.5 

And while we’re on the subject of definitive editions, perhaps the best-known version of the Lizzie Borden story is this made-for-TV film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as the mad spinster who goes on a chopping spree in her Fall River home.  

How can I see it? It’s streaming on Amazon Prime, or available to rent or buy there. 

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Director Martin Scorsese, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of 2010's "Shutter Island."

Shutter Island (2010) — 8.2 

Legendary director Martin Scorsese made this horror-thriller based on the Daniel Lehane novel, starring DiCaprio, Max Von Sydow, Ben Kingsley – and several locations in and around Taunton. DiCaprio is a U.S. marshal investigating the disappearance of a patient on a mysterious psychiatric facility — or is he? 

How can I see it?It’s streaming now on Paramount Plus and Netflix, or available to buy and rent online. 

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Ranking the top 25 movies filmed in or about the Southcoast by IMDb

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