Last Updated on August 11, 2021 by Jella Erhard
17 Best Movies Set in New Orleans | Thrilling Movies About New Orleans
These thrilling, fun, and moving movies about New Orleans will help you get to know the city’s every side. Explore thrillers and romance movies set in New Orleans since the ’30s as well as modern comedy movies filmed in New Orleans.
Most movies made in New Orleans are quite well known, however, there are still a couple of lesser-known jams that could introduce you to a new side of the Big Easy.
You can explore movies about New Orleans voodoo, get to know the famous New Orleans nightlife and best spots a bit better through history.
Get to know New Orleans’ history through deep and engaging documentaries as well as historical films that will give you a new appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of New Orleans.
Best Movies Set in New Orleans
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17| King Creole (1958) | Crime, Drama, Musical
Elvis Presley didn’t just win the hearts of music lovers but also motion picture enthusiasts’ and King Creole is a quite good example of how.
Prepare for some boogie-woogie inducing music and a kick-ass guy, whose morals are exemplary for everyone.
Following his mother’s death Danny Fisher and his father move to New Orleans. The teenage boy, who has been working tirelessly besides school does his best to support himself ending up as a night club singer at King Creole to utilize his talents.
Naturally, there are plenty of amazing songs, an innocent romance and shady people who take advantage of the weaker.
King Creole is definitely one of the best movies based on the New Orleans mafia and night club scene in the ’50s.
16| New Orleans (1947) | Drama, Music, Romance
New Orleans movie is one of the most important films on the birth of Blues. You are going to meet some of the biggest musicians that contributed to the colorful history of this smooth genre of music.
In the lively music scene there is also room for romance as it is a passionate world. The movie revolves around a casino owner and a beloved singer they fall in love.
The New Orleans cast includes amazing musicians such as Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Budd Scott, so you can imagine what a treat this movie is to the ears.
‘New Orleans’ is most certainly among the best movies based on New Orleans music and entertainment.
15| The princess and the frog (2009) | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
This cute and adventurous Disney animation is going to be fun for the whole family. It’s a lovely piece that’s definitely among the most entertaining animation movies set in New Orleans.
Thanks to the magical world, the inviting music and the twist on the classic Princess and the Frog fairy tale, you are going to have an amazing time at the next movie night.
You may have heard about the cursed prince who was turned into a frog and only a kiss of love can break the malediction and turn back to human.
Well, it is almost the same story, except there is a huge twist that creates a perfect premise for a fun movie.
The Princess and The Frog is a charming animated Disney movie set in New Orleans that will surely entertain the whole family.
14| Focus (2015) | Comedy, Crime, Drama
If you are looking for a rather light, easy to watch film for the next movie night, then choose Focus because it’s going to be entertaining with a little romance and some action.
It is one of the newest movies based on New Orleans organized crime with a little humor to ensure fun for everyone.
Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) is the head of a small group of con-men and pickpockets making a living in the lively Crescent City.
Nicky crosses paths with Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie) ending up with an agreement of Nicky teaching Jess to get by in a world of hassle.
If you would like to watch a fun crime movie set in New Orleans then Focus is a great pick for sure.
13| Naughty Marietta (1935) | Drama, Musical, Romance
Naughty Marietta is based on the beloved Victor Herbert Operetta and is truly a beautiful piece of classic cinema.
Thanks to the likes of Elsa Lanchester, Jeanette MacDonald, and Nelson Eddy, this black and white musical isn’t just a treat to the eyes but the ears as well.
The adventurous life of Marietta will most definitely captivate all viewers, while the songs which are now regarded as classics make everyone croon along.
The story begins with Marietta fleeing from an arranged marriage in France which leads to her boarding a ship to North America.
Marietta’s journey overseas isn’t smooth either, but thanks to a pirate attack she gets to meet Captain Richard Warrington. He may just play a much more significant role in her life than she ever thought.
If you are looking for movies based on new Orleans’ history, Naughty Marietta can give you some insights on how life looked like at the end of the 18th century.
12| Always for Pleasure (1978) | Documentary
Les Blank’s documentary about New Orleans traditions and nightlife with some typical foods is a great way to get to know this magnificent city better.
The magical city has plenty to offer; colorful festivals, diverse people and New Orleans music is a different lifestyle, not just a form of entertainment.
Through Blank’s work, you can peek into some rather intimate moments, such as a funeral or small, family rituals.
There are short interviews included with some of the most popular local musicians who have represented the lively scene of jazz, soul, and blues.
There aren’t many documentaries or movies about New Orleans that introduces ‘The Crescent City’ this thoroughly. Even if the documentary is fairly short, only an hour, you can get a very good feel of life and traditions there.
11| Jezebel (1938) | Drama, Romance
Jezebel cast includes Hollywood’s gems; the talented and beloved Bette Davis the handsome Henry Fonda.
Of all the movies set in New Orleans Jezebel is truly a classic that has swept most of the world off their feet.
The fantastic actors who have entertained us for decades and the chemistry between them absolutely deserve the praise they get.
The rather stubborn girl’s fiancé, Pres breaks the engagement following the “outrageous” behavior at the Olympus Ball.
In the beginning, Julie is not willing to do anything for their relationship and retires in her room to be alone for a while.
A year later, when Julie would have been ready to ask for Pres’ forgiveness at the homecoming ball in his honor, she seems to be a bit too late.
Then everything has to be secondary as the yellow fever outbreak forces everyone to seek safety in a quarantine.
Jezebel is witty, entertaining, and sometimes pretty emotional but it’s definitely among the best movies based on New Orleans social life in the mid 19th century.
10| The Cincinnati Kid (1965) | Drama
Based on Richard Jessup’s novel that soon became a cult piece in the USA.
The depression-era was a fairly popular time in 60’s Hollywood and the handsome poker player Eric ‘The Kid’ Stoner (Steve McQueen) grew to be an icon over the decades.
The Cincinnati Kid is among the best movies filmed in New Orleans without a doubt.
When The Kid realizes that one of the biggest poker players Lancey ‘The Man’ Howard in town, tries to organize a game with him to place himself at the biggest players in the country.
The Kid’s best friend, Shooter a reputable dealer is tested when the wealthy Willaim Jefferson Slade blackmails him to cheat against The Man.
Stoner proves to be a good and loyal friend when Shooter’s wife tries to seduce him and there is plenty more in that 1 hour and 42 minutes.
If you are in search of drama movies about New Orleans nightlife in the ’30s, then The Cincinnati Kid is the best choice.
9| The Big Easy (1986) | Comedy, Crime, Drama
The Big Easy is one of the best neo-noir movies made in New Orleans which had quite a buzz around its release in 1986. The title is actually one of the nicknames of the Louisiana city.
If you enjoy comedy thrillers with a little corruption and hushed murders, then you are in for a treat on your next movie night.
New Orleans police lieutenant Remy McSwain finds himself in a very delicate situation as it seems there are members of the police force involved in a murder he is investigating.
In the meanwhile state district attorney Anne Osborne is sent to look into a corruption case, in which McSwain may be involved.
A very exciting story with twists that will leave you on the edge of your seat throughout the 96 minutes.
The Big Easy is among the must watch fun crime movies set in New Orleans for sure.
8| Girls Trip (2017) | Adventure, Comedy, Drama
For a truly fun and girl movie night (not for ladies only!) Girls Trip is a superb choice. Of all the humorous movies set in New Orleans, the four girls’ visit to the Essence Music Festival is hands down among the best.
This critically acclaimed and overall appreciated movie was the first to gross over $100 million by an African-American female screenwriter.
It was also the first comedy in 2017 to make over a hundred million, so if you haven’t seen it yet, we are sure it’s on your bucket list.
Ryna decides to bring the old college crew together after disconnecting. They plan a trip to the Big Easy to let the steam out at the famous Essence festival which ends with the whole town turned upside down.
Girls Trip cast includes such amazing actors as Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Harrish. It was directed by the comedy expert Malcolm D. Lee.
Girls Trip is one of the best comedy movies about New Orleans nightlife and festivals which makes it the perfect fun movie to watch before you visit this gorgeous city.
7| Angel Heart (1987) | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Alan Parker’s dark mystery thriller is unquestionably amid the best movies set in New Orleans. The script is based on the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.
If you enjoy horrors that will leave you with a goosebumps and a little phobia of darkness, then you have just found your new favorite.
Thanks to the amazing actors, you are going to have fun between two chills. Angel Heart cast features Robert de Niro, Lisa Bonet, and Mickey Rourke.
Movies about New Orleans voodoo can get quite grim, and while it is not entirely about the culture, there is a ritual in the movie.
Louis Chypre (De Niro) hires a private investigator (Rourke) to find a singer, but as dives deeper in the lively and mysterious life of the city, unexpected questions come up.
Angel Heart is surely on everyone’s list of horror movies based on New Orleans’ nightlife and religion.
6| A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) | Drama
A Streetcar Named Desire is based on Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer winner play that is considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest dramas.
The movie itself managed to become a significant part of film history marking the beginning of the last decade of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The motion picture differs from the play in some points so you should catch or read the play as well.
It won four Academy awards for best actress (Vivien Leigh), best supporting actress (Kim Hunter), best supporting actor (Karl Malden) and best black and white art direction.
This lovely story begins with Blanche DuBois a high school teacher traveling to New Orleans by train to visit her sister seeking a fresh start.
Throughout the couple of hours, viewers are going to find themselves in on quite a roller coaster of emotions. There are happy, romantic moments and a number of sad, tormenting scenes.
Just as the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, the film stands out as well which is surely among the most captivating movies made in New Orleans.
5| Deja Vu (2006) | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Following a shocking attack on one of the ferries in New Orleans causing nearly 550 people’s death on Mardi Gras, ATF special agent Douglas Carlin (Denzel Washington) begins investigating.
As he tries to uncover who is behind the terrible incident, he partners up with FBI Special Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer), who leads the newly formed special task force.
They use a program that will revolutionize investigative methods called “Snow White.” It allows the task force to look back in the past 102 hours and 3 minutes.
As Douglas goes deeper into the case and learns more about Snow White, things become more complicated resulting in one of the best action movies set in New Orleans.
Plenty of surprises, a little fiddling with time and some good old fashioned exchange of bullets.
Deja Vu is, without doubt, the most exciting action movies set in New Orleans with the one and only Denzel Washington as a lead.
4| The Skeleton Key (2005) | Drama, Horror, Mystery
For a classic night of bone chilling horrors, The Skeleton Key is a superb pick. Ehren Kruger (written by) is sort known to find ways to creep the bejesus out of us, a good example is The Ring pictures.
Movies about New Orleans voodoo (hoodoo) are usually doing a great job in being frightening and The Skeleton Key managed to live up to the expectations.
Besides the petrifying visuals and the somewhat mortifying mood, The Skeleton Key cast guarantees goosebumps. Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, Joy Bryant, John Hurt, and Peter Sarsgaard along with others do a memorable job.
When Caroline, a hospice nurse finds a new job at an old house in Terrebonne Parish not far from New Orleans, terrible secrets surface.
The Skeleton Key is a chilling movie set in the outskirts of New Orleans in a beautiful plantation home and is one of the most exciting movies about New Orleans voodoo that gives us a nice picture of the past and current spiritual setting of the city.
3| When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) | Documentary
Hurricane Katrina devastated the beautiful city of New Orleans and the coast in 2005. Millions have been affected and Spike Lee went the extra mile to capture the terrible moments and help people in need.
The talented director and producer is known to be passionate about African-American issues in the USA and this four-hour movie does an amazing job raising awareness.
It is not solely about the destruction this tropical storm brought; Lee intends to showcase the beauty of the city’s culture, the strength of its fantastic people and suggest hope for everyone.
If you want to get to know The Big Easy a bit better, then watch ‘When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts’ because it’s one of the greatest movies about New Orleans.
2| The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) | Drama, Fantasy, Romance
One of the biggest hits of 2008 was the successful collaboration of Eric Roth, Robin Swicord (written by) and David Fincher (directed by).
In addition to the superb story and great direction, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cast was also quite strong to create one of the best movies filmed in New Orleans.
Probably everyone heard the story of the little boy who was born an elderly man and slowly grew younger and younger.
Well, this heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking tale is told by Daisy Fuller on her deathbed in 2005 and probably everyone holds it dear forever.
Even if it’s a fiction, Benjamin Button’s life is utterly inspiring while being one of the most lovable movies based on New Orleans in the 20th century.
1| Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) | Drama, Horror
Ann Rice’s vampire literary classic was turned into a cinema classic that is going to be mentioned among the best vampire movies for long.
While not the whole movie is set in New Orleans, a good part takes place there.
For a mid 90’s picture, the visuals are amazing and the story will drag you through all emotions one can feel.
You are going to love, hate, adore, be scared and much more as you follow the incredible adventures of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) and Lestat (Tom Cruise) spanning over a couple of centuries.
If you haven’t read the book, the movie is quite accurate thanks to the fact that Anne Rice herself wrote the screenplay as well.
While Interview with a Vampire is only partially set in New Orleans it’s still a great watch and gives you some gorgeous shots from a dark but beautiful period of the city.
Thank you for reading!