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Philadelphia on Philm

Shyamalan_PhiladelphiaSome directors are synonymous with a certain city — in Film + Travel, our guides show you Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid, plus the Alfred Hitchcock double whammy of London and San Francisco. Another director known for his ties to a town is M. Night Shyamalan. His city? Philadelphia. 

Shyamalan was born in India and raised just outside of The City of Brotherly Love, in a posh Montgomery County suburb. The city (and its surroundings) have starred in all but one of his films — his first, Praying with Anger, which he filmed in India, while still a student at NYU. In fact, Shyamalan was spotted just this May shooting his latest, ‘The Last Airbender‘ in a high-security Pennsylvania location

See Shyamalan’s city for yourself, after the jump…





As a director, Shyamalan shot to near-instant fame in 1999 with ‘The Sixth Sense‘, the supernatural thriller starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette that turned  “I see dead people” into a household phrase. The film was shot in Center City Philadelphia, making the most of the city’s claustrophobicly narrow streets and creepily Colonial architecture.

St. Augustine's

To see it for yourself head to the landmark St. Augustine Catholic Church at Fourth and Vine, or have dinner at the swanky Rittenhouse Square restaurant Striped Bass at 1500 Walnut St. The restaurant is now closed — but that doesn’t matter, in the film Malcolm (Willis), misses his anniversary dinner there, too. Still, it’s worth the trip to step inside, 1500 Walnut is now the home of Butcher & Singer , a speakeasy-style joint that pays homage to old Hollywood.  

While the film made use of iconic Philly landmarks, like Boathouse Row, what really got high marks from the locals was actress Toni Collette’s mastery of the elusive (at least on film) Philadelphia accent. When you’re in the city, do like Collette’s Lynn, and tune into KYW Newsradio 1060 to hear the accent in full force for yourself. 

To find out where the director filmed the likes of ‘The Lady in the Water,’ ‘Signs’ and ‘Unbreakable,’ visit the About Philadelphia blog. And while you’re in town, check out the Philadelphia Film Tour and see the sites where some other famous films — ‘Philadelphia,’ ‘Witness’ and, of course, ‘Rocky’ — were filmed.

Now we want to know…what’s your favorite Philly Philm?

images: M. Night Shyamalan and Mark Wahlberg film ‘The Happening’ on the streets of Philadelphia, photo by Frank Roche/Flickr; St. Augustines Roman Catholic Church by ShootsNikon/Flickr

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