Filmed at the Shore
Movies and TV Shows

New Jersey Monthly Magazine

July 2021

By R.C. Staab

Looking for something to watch on a rainy day at the beach or to soothe your sunburn? We’ve put together this list of the best and most memorable movies that are either filmed entirely or in part at the Jersey Shore, stretching from Hazlet and Highlands in the north to Atlantic City and Wildwood to the south.

 

Atlantic City (1980) – Bittersweet. Nostalgic. Romantic. Former gangster Burt Lancaster (Best Actor nominee) gently romances young casino worker Susan Sarandon (Best Actress nominee), unexpectedly caught up in a drug deal gone wrong. Directed with a sensitive touch by Frenchmen Louis Malle, the characters take long walks along the Boardwalk as we witness the wrecking ball of casino gambling dismantling the reminders of Atlantic City’s heyday as the nation’s most popular tourist destination. (AN))

 

The Miracle Worker (1962) – Brutal. Wrenching. Uplifting. Acted with bracing power by Patty Duke (Best Supporting Actress) as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft (Best Actress) as her teacher, the movie is remarkably powerful almost 50 years after it was filmed in Middletown Township. Most of the outdoor scenes, including the famous finale at a water pump, stand in for Keller’s childhood home in Alabama. (AN, SI, BW)

 

Big Night (1996) – Delectable. Delightful. Humorous. Set in the early 1960s, two brothers played by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub run a struggling Italian restaurant in Keyport, hoping to turn its fortune around with a sumptuous feast to be attended by bandleader Louis Prima. With a supporting cast that includes Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver and Liev Schreiber, there’s not a weak link in this satisfying meal of a movie. (AN, I, F)

 

Clerks (1994) – Sharp. Current. Satire. Twenty-seven years after it was filmed, Kevin Smith’s directorial debut is fresh, funny and timely. A group of post-high school grads are lost and clueless as they manage a video store and the nearby Quick Stop in Leonardo where Smith worked. The acting is all over the place, but the dialogue is brisk and often laugh-out-loud funny. (AN, I, BW)

 

Stardust Memories (1980) – Whacky. Neurotic. Cinema-Obsessed. A neglected Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories nevertheless is well worth watching, especially if you’ve seen Allen’s early comic films such as Sleeper or Annie Hall, plus Fellini’s 8 ½. Mostly set in the fictional Stardust Hotel – the Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium looking grand -- the movie concerns a director spending a miserable weekend at the Shore for at film festival in his honor. (TS, BW)

 

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) – Nostalgic. Surreal. Dramatic. A huckster, his brother and two women make an easy quadrangle of hopelessness and inevitable despair. The film is similar in style and grit as Five Easy Pieces, also directed by Bob Rafelson. Set in the pre-casino days of Atlantic City, there are many remarkable images of the faded resort, including Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern carrying on a conversation while sitting on horses on the beach. (I)

 

“Whitecaps” Episode, Season 4 Finale, The Sopranos (2002) – Bombastic. Mischievous. Touching. Tony Soprano’s surprises his wife Carmela with a trip to the Shore to her show a vacation home he’s bought for the family. It’s Tony as his crime-boss best and domestic-family worse as Tony and Carmela walk the beach in Sea Bright with the lights of New York City in the distance. (TS)

 

The Wrestler (2008) – Gripping. Forlorn. Savage. Worn out New Jersey professional wrestler Mickey Rourke (Best Actor nominee) is desperate to give up his bruising career and connect with girlfriend (Marisa Tomei, Best Supporting Actress nominee) but is faced with little choice but to continue. Set entirely in New Jersey, the film has Rourke living in a Hazlet and includes a nice sequence of his early days with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) along the Boardwalk and Convention Hall in Asbury Park. (AN)

 

Chasing Amy (1997) – Romantic. Mainstream. Comic. In his first role to garner major attention, Ben Affleck plays a Red Bank comic-book artist who befriends and then romances fellow artist Joey Lauren Adams. Like Clerks, the film is set at the Shore but without stereotypical images of long walks on the beach.  And like Smith’s earlier films, the acting can occasionally be rough.

 

Eddie and the Cruisers (1983) – Rock N’ Roll. Nostalgic. Sunny. Excusing the over-arching plot of trying to uncover Eddie’s lost second album, the movie is the best rock-and-roll movie to grace the Jersey Shore from Ocean City to Somers Point to Atlantic City. Although the music is supposedly vintage 1963, the triple-platinum soundtrack by John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band sounds like Springsteen-influenced rock from the 1970s. (AN, F)

 

Baby It’s You (1983) – Loving. Fresh. Funny. In one of his best films, director John Sayles dances around movie clichés about high school romance for a lively look at two New Jersey teens from different sides of the track. Bad boy Vincent Spano convinces good girl Rosanna Arquette (in her first starring role) to skip school and spend the day in Asbury Park. (F, TS)

 

Warrior (2011) – Tough. Winning. Cliched. Two estranged brothers played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton converge on Atlantic City for a mixed martial event, “War at the Shore.” There’s are few if any surprises to the plot, but it’s a gripping sports movie that manages to hit hard. Although filmed mostly in Pittsburgh, Atlantic City finally gets a glamourous role. (TS)

 

Birdy (1984) – Searing. Traumatic. Captivating. Looking backwards from the Vietnam era, two West Philadelphia teens played by a young Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine kindle an unlikely friendship. A pivotal scene is a trip to Atlantic City (recreated by Wildwood’s Boardwalk) where they interact with two women on the Boardwalk. The film is powerfully directed by Alan Parker. (AN, TS)

 

Blinded by the Light (2019) – Springsteen. Charming. Rock N’ Roll. A British-Pakistani teenager’s life turns around when he becomes a devotee of Bruce Springsteen’s music. Based on a true story, it’s a sweet rock and rock parable of how music can change a person’s life. Although there is only a short montage shot in Asbury Park and other iconic Springsteen locations in Monmouth County, New Jersey figures prominently in the story. (F, TS)

 

Jersey Girl (2004) – Pleasant. Family. Banal. This is a perfectly pleasant movie largely overlooked by director Kevin Smith’s fans and by the media because Ben Affleck was coming off of a string of bad movies. As a bereaved husband, Affleck has all the cute moments you’d expect with his young co-star playing his daughter, who is intent on match-making him with Highlands video store manager Liv Tyler. Features the line: “My dad says life can be split into two categories, New Jersey... and New York.” (F)

 

Annie (1982) – Tuneful. Star-Studded. Overblown. There’s a lot not to like in this bloated version of the hit Broadway musical, including Albert Finney miscast as Daddy Warbucks. However, with extensive filming at Shadow Lawn at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, the movie captures a Jersey Shore era when wealthy barons of industry built summer mansions easily accessible from New York City. Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters are among the cast. (F)

 

Amityville Horror (1979) – Ponderous. Hackneyed. Predictable. How can any list of Jersey Shore movies not include this famous horror film which spawned two sequels also shot at a home in Toms River and whose movie poster is one of filmdom’s most iconic? Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger, the movie shockingly was the second highest grossing movie of 1979 (beating out Rocky II, Star Trek and Moonraker to name a few) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Score. (AN, SI, F)

 

ACRONYMNS: AN (Award Nominee), I (Independent), F (Family), SI (Stand-In), TS (Trip to the Shore), BW (Black and White)

 

List of All Movies and TV Shows

 

Movies**

Atlantic City – Atlantic City, Somers Point, Margate

Eddie and the Cruisers -- Ocean City, Somers Point, Atlantic City, Asbury Park

* Eddie and the Cruisers II -- Asbury Park

The Wrestler -- Asbury Park, Hazlet, Wanamassa

Baby It’s You – Asbury Park, Spring Lake

Stardust Memories – Ocean Grove, Asbury Park

City by the Sea – Asbury Park, Ocean Grove

Dogma – Asbury Park

Clerks  - Leonardo, Atlantic Highlands

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back -- Leonardo, Red Bank

The King of Marvin Gardens - Atlantic City

The Bounty Hunter -- Atlantic City, West Long Branch (Monmouth Park)

The Pick-Up Artist -- Atlantic City

Snake Eyes  -- Atlantic City

Warrior – Atlantic City (Boardwalk Hall)

Godfather III – Atlantic City (formerly Trump Castle Casino)

* Tattoo -- Ocean City

The Amityville Horror -- Toms River

Amityville II: The Possession -- Toms River

Amityville 3-D -- Toms River

Stealing Home -- Island Beach State Park

Ocean’s Eleven -- Atlantic City (closed Trump Plaza casino)

Chasing Amy – Red Bank, Asbury Park, Rumson, Brick, Leonardo, Belford

Birdy -- Wildwood

Annie – West Long Branch (Monmouth University)

Ragtime -- Spring Lake 

* The In Crowd - Wildwood

Desperately Seeking Susan – Atlantic City (condo)

* Dead Dogs Die -- Asbury Park, Freehold

Big Night -- Keyport, Keansburg

Celebrity – Atlantic City (Trump Marina)

According to Greta – Ocean Grove and Atlantic City

Me and Veronica -- Bradley Beach, Highlands

Greetings from the Jersey Shore -- Lavallette

* Tomorrow is Today -- Point Pleasant

Jersey Girl -- Highlands

Down the Shore -- Keansburg

Coyote Ugly – Sea Bright

* The Lemon Sisters – Atlantic City

The Kill-Off -- Keansburg

Once Upon a Time in America – Spring Lake

Homeboy – Asbury Park, Belmar

Don’t Go In the House – Atlantic Highlands, Port Monmouth

The Money – Atlantic City

Marnie -- Atlantic City (closed racetrack)

The Subject Was Roses -- Spring Lake

The Miracle Worker -- Middletown

*  Not available to stream, rent or buy on Netflix, Amazon Prime, eBay or other streaming services

 ** Only includes movies that were filmed and commercially released at theaters or on video


TV Shows

The Sopranos - Sea Bright

Comic Book Men - Red Bank

MTV’s Jersey Shore (most seasons) - Seaside Heights

Emergence - Highlands

Little America (The Jaguar, Episode 2) - Sea Bright

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore) - Ocean City

Boardwalk Empire (opening credits) - Sea Bright

 

Movies and TV Shows By Town

Sandy Hook – Jersey Girl

Sea Bright – The Sopranos, Down by the Shore, The Jaguar (Apple+/Little America), Coyote Ugly, Boardwalk Empire

Monmouth Beach

Long Branch/Seven Presidents – Annie, The Bounty Hunter

Deal

Allenhurst

Loch Arbor

Asbury Park – Stardust Memories, The Wrestler, Baby It’s You, Blinded by the Light, City by the Sea, Dogma, Chasing Amy, According to Greta, Dead Dogs Die

Ocean Grove – Stardust Memories, According to Greta

Bradley Beach – Me and Veronica, According to Greta

Avon

Belmar

Spring Lake – The Subject Was Roses, Ragtime, Once Upon a Time in America

Sea Girt

Manasquan

Pt. Pleasant Beach – Tomorrow is Today

Bays Head – Tomorrow is Today

Mantoloking

Brick Beaches – Tomorrow is Today

North Dover – Tomorrow is Today

Lavallette --- Greetings from the Jersey Shore, Tomorrow is Today

Ortley

Seaside Heights – Stealing Home, MTV’s Jersey Shore, Tomorrow is Today

Seaside Park

South Seaside Park

Island Beach State Park – Stealing Home

Barnegat State Park

Barnegat Light

Loveladies

Harvey Cedars

Surf City

Ship Bottom

Long Beach Twp/Brant Beach

Beach Haven

Holgate

Edwin Forsythe

Brigantine

Atlantic City – Atlantic City, King of Marvin Gardens, Eddie and the Cruisers, Warrior, The Bounty Hunter, Homeboy, The Pick-Up Artist, Snake Eyes, Godfather III, Celebrity, The Money, Marnie, Ocean’s 11, The Lemon Sisters, Desperately Seeking Susan, Eddie and the Cruisers

Ventnor

Margate – Stealing Home, Atlantic City

Longport

Ocean City – Eddie and the Cruisers, Tattoo

Corsons Inlet

Strathmere

Sea Isle City

Avalon

Stone Harbor

North Wildwood

Wildwood – Birdy, The In Crowd

Wildwood Crest

Diamond Beach

Cape May