Kankakee is not famous for their contribution to film. I remember hearing a rumor that Tom Hanks was coming to Momence to film a movie when I was about 6 or 7. At the time I did not know who Tom Hanks was, so I didn’t know why people cared. There have actually been quite a few movies filmed in the Kankakee area, and a couple episodes of television, too! Almost all of these are only partly filmed in Kankakee, but it is still pretty cool that Kankakee has a small presence, but a presence nonetheless, on the big screen.
Movies (in chronological order)
The Hunter, 1980
This Steve McQueen film followed a bounty hunter, Ralph “Papa” Thorson. Quite a few scenes were filmed in Kankakee County, including Bonfield, Herscher, Kankakee, and Manteno. Some specific scenes filmed include a payphone scene in Bonfield, the capture of Tommy Price in Herscher, and a car chase through Manteno.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987
The bus station interior was filmed at the Wilmington bus station. John Hughes wanted the train station to be filmed in Kankakee. Part of the crew waited in Kankakee for a week, but the weather did not get cold enough to snow. Instead, the scenes were shot in an abandoned warehouse.
Child’s Play (Chucky), 1988
A portion of this horror movie was filmed at the Shapiro Developmental Center on January 28 and 29, 1988. The Shapiro Developmental Center used to be the Kankakee State Hospital, and before that the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane.
Road to Perdition, 2002
Tom Hanks and Paul Newman filmed parts of this movie in Kankakee and Will Counties, specifically in Momence. Most of the bank-robbing scenes, as well as a couple others, were filmed here.
Public Enemies, 2009
Johnny Depp starred in this gangster film about John Dillinger, a bank robber. The movie was partly filmed in St. Anne in 2008, including scenes with Johnny Depp.
The Unborn, 2009
Gary Oldman starred in this horror movie, which also included scenes from the Shapiro Developmental Center.
Knight and Day, 2010
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starred in this 2010 movie, partially filmed in Kankakee.
Sinister 2, 2015
This horror movie sequel was partly filmed in Kankakee, Grant Park, and St. Anne. The Daily Journal had an article asking for extras to take part in the movie.
The Manteno State Hospital was featured on 3 episodes of Mission Terror. The crew only spent 47 minutes inside before running out. Two years later, another episode was filmed to see if the crew could last more than 47 minutes.They lasted just over an hour, and came back in 2015 to try and stay even longer.
A Momence man was filmed in 2002 due to his James Bond Collection. The episode, called “James Bond Gadgets” was aired on December 2, 2002. His collection includes over 6,000 items and includes a Q-Boat, a minisub, and a chase boat from the James Bond movies.
As you can see, Kankakee County does have a little bit of film history, even if it does include mostly gangster or horror movies.
You Learn Something Every Day:
On March 4, 1881, Kankakee became the 16th city in Illinois to be given a telephone license. 48 telephones were installed in the first year, and by April 1882 a 12-mile telephone toll line connected Kankakee, Grant Park, Exline, Chebanse, Irwin, Herscher, and Cabery.
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