Lights, Camera, Action!

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 hunterThe 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.

childs play

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 perdition2

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.




road to perdition

A scene from Road to Perdition filmed in Momence.

public enemies

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.




Johnny Depp outside of St. Anne high school. (Picture from the Daily Journal)

The Unborn, 2009

Gary Oldman starred in this horror movie, which also included scenes from the Shapiro Developmental Center.

unborn kankakee

A scene from The Unborn filmed in Kankakee.

knight and day

Knight and Day, 2010

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starred in this 2010 movie, partially filmed in Kankakee.

sinister 2

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.

Television Shows

Mission Terror

mission terror2

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.


mission terror

The hosts walk through the Manteno State Hospital

Modern Marvel

modern marvelA 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.modern marvel2


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.


Feel free to leave comments and/or questions! I’d love to know what you think of the posts, the blog, or anything you would like to see in future posts!:)

6 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Action!

  1. In 1979 “The Dummy,” a made-for-television movie, was filmed in part at the Kankakee County Courthouse. LaVar Burton starred in the real-life story of Donald Lang, a deaf-mute charged in the rape and murder of a Chicago prostitute. Footage was shot in Room 300 when the courthouse closed for Veterans Day. The production was nominated for an Emmy.
    Burton was the young Kunta Kinte in “Roots” and Geordy LaForge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    In 1996, Keanu Reeves used the three million tons of limestone at Lehigh Quarry for a scene in “Chain Reaction,” an action film that said you could use water for running cars. While McQueen’s film used actors to play cops in a local chase sequence, “Chain Reaction” used several real, local officers.


  2. My father in law’s then auto repair shop was also in a scene of Steve McQueens film “The Hunter”. He & sons were extras in that scene!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s