13 Films That Were Shot in Dallas

Some people may think Dallas' only contribution to the film industry is the Zapruder film, but they would be wrong. A surprisingly large number of movies have been filmed in the Dallas area over the years; we've put together a list of our favorites, some of which you may know were made here, and some you may not.

State Fair - 1962 
Dollars to donuts, the State Fair of Texas is one of the biggest fairs in the nation. It’s also a movie star in its own right. The 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical film State Fair was itself a remake of a 1933 film about a family’s trip to the Iowa State Fair to show their pig, Blue Boy. In 1962, another remake was released starring Pat Boone and Ann-Margret, with the location changed to Dallas. The film was shot in and around Fair Park, and icons like the Midway entrance and the Tower Building look much the same back then as they do today. Big Tex is in the movie, too, sporting a different hat, a Lee western shirt and a noticeable paunch around the midsection, in comparison to his trim-waisted, Dickies-clad physique of today.

Benji - 1972
Benji is everyone’s favorite stray dog. Parts of the 1972 film (the first of seven films featuring the lovable mutt) were shot in McKinney and Denton. When Benji is kicked out of Paul and Cindy’s house by their dad, he escapes to a decrepit house which was said to be haunted. The actual home is far from haunted; it’s the historic Dowell House in McKinney, which serves as a bed and breakfast today. Other notable locations are Denton’s City Hall, which doubled as the police station where Benji was temporarily locked up before being freed by the janitor, and several houses on Louisiana Street in McKinney, which portrayed the neighborhood where Benji lived.

Logan’s Run - 1972
Something about Dallas’ architecture has inspired filmmakers who need a dystopian future city. In 1972’s Logan’s Run, Dallas and Fort Worth were the homes of a civilization where the inhabitants were killed on their 30th birthdays in order to ensure the continuation of their society. The title character is a Sandman, who is tasked to hunt down Runners who try to escape their scheduled deaths. The exterior shots depicting the Sandmen’s headquarters are of the Pegasus Place building off I-35E, former home to Zales and Exxon Mobil. Later in the film, Logan and a woman named Jessica are sent to locate the Sanctuary, where Runners are said to escape Sandmen. They discover the wild remains of human civilization, then sneak back into the city via a hydroelectric plant, a scene shot in Fort Worth’s Water Gardens.

True Stories - 1986
Fresh off the success of the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense concert film, David Byrne was given free reign to write, direct and star in his musical/mockumentary of Americana, True Stories. Stephen Tobolowsky wrote the first draft of the script, set in the fictional town of Virgil, Texas, as it's celebrating the 150th anniversary of the town’s founding and the state’s independence from Mexico. Byrne re-wrote most of the script, then headed to Dallas to bring the fictional town to life. Riffing on our fascination with shopping, Byrne drives his red Chrysler LeBaron convertible to the old Big Town Mall in Mesquite. The interior scenes were filmed at NorthPark Center. Byrne then follows local man Louis Fyne (a young John Goodman, in one of his first film roles) on a date with a woman who rarely leaves her bed. Finally, the parade scenes were filmed in the downtown McKinney area.

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Chris Wolfgang has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2015. Originally from Florida, Chris moved to Dallas in 1997 and has carried on a secret affair with the Oxford comma for over 20 years.
Contact: Chris Wolfgang