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3 movies from Kansas City’s film history

Kansas City was a few near misses from becoming a Hollywood of its own — but these three pieces of local film history tell a story that’s uniquely us.

A little girl rides a cartoon elephant down a procession in a black-and-white film. Two ostriches carry a sign that reads "Welcome Alice."

“Alice’s Wonderland” was made in KC, but not set there — although this is what Main looks like sometimes. | Screenshot via Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City has always had close ties to old Hollywood thanks to Film Row and a particularly famous mouse. Nowadays, it’s still a top city for movie makers — but today we’re focusing on three films from Kansas City’s silver screen history.

“Alice’s Wonderland”

You can watch the entirety of this 1923 silent film — one of Walt’s first at Laugh-O-Gram Studios, the studio he founded in KC before making it big in Hollywood — on Disney’s website.

It never made theatrical release, but it did make history for blending live action with animation, a technique that Walt would use for all of the Alice Comedies after this one.

“Kansas City”

Seven-time Academy Award-nominated director Robert Altman returned to his hometown of KCMO to film this mob-era crime flick.

While the plot + characters were nothing to write home about, the 1996 film received acclaim for its soundtrack boasting live musicians playing period accurate Kansas City jazz. You can hear it in the trailer (which is a throwback in and of itself).

“Midnight Movie Massacre”

This 80s meta take on pulpy sci-fi flicks is certainly not winning any Academy Awards, but it’s got more going for it than just a B movie rating.

For one, it’s a certified 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, which you have to admit is kind of impressive. And two, it features the original location of Screenland Armour — Editor Dayten’s favorite place to catch cult classic movies. (Even “Midnight Movie Massacre,” in years past.)

Know of any other KC movie deep cuts? Drop us a line — and don’t forget to pass the popcorn.

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