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Top Films Set in Hawaii and Made in Hawaii

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Hundreds of films and television shows have been made in Hawaii beginning with the 1923 Paramount Pictures release "The White Flower." The last forty years have seen Hawaii become a major locale for many major motion pictures set in Hawaii, the South Pacific and elsewhere in the world. These are our favorite films set in the Hawaiian Islands with principal filming or artwork done in Hawaii.

1. Hawaii - 1966

George Roy Hill's Hawaii
George Roy Hill's stunning adaptation of the James Michener novel of the same name is faithful to the book and features amazing island scenery and fine acting by Julie Andrews, Max von Sydow and Richard Harris. It is a great introduction to the early history of Hawaii.
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2. Picture Bride - 1994

Kayo Hatta's Picture Bride
apanese director Kayo Hatta presents this story of a Japanese woman who travels to Hawaii to marry a man that she has never met, but only seen through photos and letters. She soon discovers that he is twice her age and that much turmoil awaits her in her new home. Beautifully filmed on the North Shore of Oahu and the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island. Special appearance by Toshiro Mifune.
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3. The Descendants - 2011

Alexander Payne's The Descendants
This critically acclaimed film starring George Clooney was nominated for five Academy Awards in 2012 including Best Actor. It received the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Filmed entirely in Hawaii on Oahu and Kauai, it tells the struggles of a man and his two daughters to reconnect with each other when their mother's boating accident leaves her in an irreversible coma. Learning that his wife had been having an affair and was planning to divorce him actually brings the family closer together as they prepare for her death. Complicating matters is the father's added struggles of dealing with the expiration of his large family's perpetual trust and whether to sell a large area of land on Kauai to developers or preserve it for the future of the family and people of Hawaii.
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4. Blue Hawaii - 1961

Hall Wallis' Blue Hawaii
Chad Gates (Presley), upon discharge from the Army, returns to Hawaii to enjoy life with his buddies and girlfriend, against the wishes of his parents, who want him to work for the family business. Some may call it a guilty pleasure, but "Blue Hawaii," starring Elvis Presley, Joan Blackman and Angela Lansbury, is plain fun and features great music and beautiful Hawaiian scenery from the early 60's.
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5. 50 First Dates - 2004

Peter Segal's 50 First Dates
A sleeper hit of 2003, the film re-pairs Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in a romantic comedy about a young girl named Lucy (Barrymore) who has lost her short-term memory in a car accident and who now relives each day as if it is October 13th. She follows the same routine every day, until she meets Henry Roth (Sandler) who falls in love with her and who seeks a way to forge a long-term relationship.
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6. From Here to Eternity - 1953

Fred Zinnermann's multiple Oscar winner is set in pre-World War II Hawaii. It tells the story of several army soldiers stationed on Oahu on the eve of Pearl Harbor. The film won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed) and five other awards.
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7. Molokai: The Story of Father Damien - 1999

The film tells the story of Belgian priest Damien DeVeuster from 1872, the year before his arrival in Kalaupapa, through his years ministering to the Hansen's Disease patients at Kalaupapa, until his death at the Molokai settlement in 1889. This is not an easy film to watch. The suffering of those afflicted with what was then called leprosy is graphically documented in the film.

8. Tora! Tora! Tora! - 1970

The story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as seen from both the American and Japanese perspectives is told in a straightforward manner and does not hesitate to point out the mistakes which were made on both sides. The film features the best filming of the actual attack seen on film prior to the 2001 release, "Pearl Harbor."

9. Lilo & Stitch - 2002

Disney's 2002 animated film has become an instant classic and the characters of the little Hawaiian girl Lilo and her "puppy" Stitch (who is actually a very mischievous alien who has crash-landed on earth) have also both become some of Disney's most beloved characters. Set on the North Shore of Kauai with amazingly accurate and beautiful artwork based on actual photos and on-location drawings, the story follows Lilo and Stitch as they both learn the meaning of loyalty, friendship and the Hawaiian meaning of 'ohana (family).

10. Princess Kai'ulani - 2009

Winner of the Audience Award for Best Film at the 2009 Hawaii International Film Festival, Princess Kai'ulani, is a period historical drama that tells the story of the young Hawaiian princess, and heir to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom, who is thrust into the role of spokesperson for her family and advocate for the Hawaiian people when her uncle King Kalakaua dies and her aunt Liliu'okalani, who has ascended the throne, is placed under house arrest and removed from power. Educated in England from age 13, she returns home to a much different world than she was expected to inherit. The film stars the beautiful actress Q'orianka Kilcher who is best known for her role as Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in Terrence Malick's The New World.
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11. In Harms Way - 1965

Otto Preminger's classic drama of the war in the Pacific focuses on several navy officers, and the women in their lives, who are suddenly catapulted into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The film is finely acted, with John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Tom Tyron and Paula Prentiss in the leading roles.
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12. Pearl Harbor - 2001

Michael Bay's blockbuster set immediately before, during and after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack tells the story of two best friends and the woman they both love. Heavily criticized for its script and acting, the movie, nevertheless, features the best re-creation of the Pearl Harbor attack ever put on film.  

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