Do Tom's research for him by sharing your fave set-in-Tucson movie

Arizona Daily Star film critic Phil Villarreal recently released the list of his Top 100 favorite films. Like any list, there were "oh yeah!" moments for the reader, and a few "huh?!" moments as well.

He had The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II listed together, and still didn't have that package in the Top 10. I'm not going to go through his list and nitpick, but like many film critics, he had as his No. 1 movie something I had never even heard of. I actually had to go back and look it up; it's called Waking Life, and I still have no idea what it is.

I'm in the process of writing an article for a magazine (which will remain unnamed, at least until the check clears) in which I list the best movies set in various cities. It's completely subjective, although I have consulted friends of mine who grew up in different cities as to whether certain films got the city's feel right. (I still haven't seen this year's Best Picture Oscar winner, Slumdog Millionaire, which is set in Mumbai, but there's already a backlash from some Mumbai-ites who claim that the film presents an unfair depiction of their slums. As in, "Our slums are way better than that!")

My list consists mainly of films in which the locale played a significant role, not just one of happenstance. For example, Sleepless in Seattle could very easily have been Sleepless in Portland, but Woody Allen's Manhattan could not have been Omaha. Having said that, there are a few exceptions--mainly films that are so good that I can't help but include them.

Some of the picks are easy. For example, the best Los Angeles film (by a freeway mile) is L.A. Confidential. That movie was so good (it should have won Best Picture over mega-blockbuster Titanic), it even overshadows the runner-up in the category, Chinatown.

Third on that list, of course, is Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. Actually, there are lots of them set in L.A. to consider: Speed, Bowfinger, Die Hard, The Player, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and so many more.

There is also Demolition Man, which technically is set in San Angeles. This guilty pleasure, which features a wickedly satirical look at a "perfect" future, features the classic scene of Sylvester Stallone biting into a rat burger, finding out that the meat is rat, then taking another big bite.

The best Chicago films are The Untouchables and The Blues Brothers. Oddly enough, the movie Chicago didn't make the list, mostly because I haven't seen it, and the thought of Richard Gere dancing creeps me out.

What I found really odd is that there seemed to be an inordinate amount of really good movies set in Detroit. There is the sci-fi classic Robocop, which, while released nearly 25 years ago, tells the story of Detroit being in such total decay that the entire city is going to be razed and replaced by New Detroit.

I also love Out of Sight, with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. I'm not a big Lopez fan, but she is spectacular in this movie, as are Clooney, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina and even Michael Keaton, in a small role.

Elmore Leonard (who wrote Out of Sight) is in town this weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books. I'm going to stop by and ask him how he happened to come up with my all-time-favorite movie line, the one where Cheadle, facing down the barrel of a gun, tells Clooney that "there's a high potentiality for the common motherf-- to bitch out."

I have a friend whose favorite Detroit-based movie is The Betsy, which should have been called The Clunker. The only reason he liked it is that it shows Kathleen Beller in full frontal nudity getting into a swimming pool. He first saw it at a delicate stage of his life.

Other Detroit movies that are actually worth seeing include 8 Mile, the high-energy Eminem rags-to-a-few-bucks film, and last year's Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood's gritty crime tale in which the biggest crimes of all were his and its snubbing by the Oscar people.

Anyway, I told you all that so I can tell you this: I need some help with Tucson-based films. I know most of them. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is based in Tucson, even though it was filmed in Phoenix. I never really cared much for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, although it does hold up quite well when compared to the sitcom that followed. I even saw a movie set at the Tucson Rodeo circa 1947 on TCM once.

I haven't yet seen Transformers 2, which was partially filmed here. There's a guy who sends me stuff before it comes out (although the quality isn't always the best, and the writing is in Cyrillic), but he's slacking on this one. Of course, I never watch them; that would be wrong.

My current favorite is Can't Buy Me Love, with pre-McDreamy Patrick Dempsey in a surprisingly touching teen movie.

What's yours? My deadline is coming up, and if you've got a good one, I might even mention you in the article. But probably not.

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