I know this is kind of cheating, as most of Hardcore takes place in Los Angeles. However, it does share some of it’s run time not only in Michigan, but right here in Grand Rapids. So, I say it counts. I made the rules so I can break the rules. Not that there’s any rules.

The 2020 census showed that Grand Rapids had a population of 198,917. It ranked as the second most-populated city in Michigan, after Detroit. Kind of surprising seeing Detroit can be the set for a Fallout game.

The city sits along the Grand River and it’s considered the economic and cultural hub of West Michigan. It’s a historic furniture manufacturing center, giving it the nickname “Furniture City.” More recently it’s been given the nickname “Beer City,” thanks to such companies as Founders.


Grand Rapids was also the childhood home of US President Gerald Ford, who is buried with his wife Betty on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in the city (I’ve never been there).

Hardcore is a great neo-noir crime drama, even though I wouldn’t say there’s much crime going on. Make sure to checkout our retro review for the movie, if you haven’t yet. Although, I’m not sure about the whole family from Iowa thing, it’s truly is a great movie and criminally underrated.

You can find all the gritty details of the movie’s plot there. Basically George C. Scott is a religious family man who ends up looking for his missing daughter in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. These days that’s pretty much all of California.


The movie is apparently based on a true story. Supposedly, a teenage girl that went missing and was later found to have appeared in an adult movie. I could not find anymore information about this, so I don’t know how true it is.

Hardcore is written and directed by Paul Schrader, he was born and raised here in Grand Rapids. Schrader’s family attended the Calvinist Christian Reformed Church and he attended Calvin College. There he earned a B.A. in philosophy with a minor in theology. However, he decided against becoming a minister. Instead, Schrader earned an M.A. in film studies at the UCLA Film School.

He wasn’t the only person working on Hardcore that spent some time living in Michigan. Scott too lived here, going to Redford High School in Detroit. This was before Detroit turned into the Hell hole that we know today of course. Okay, enough ragging on Detroit.

When I was a kid in the 80s growing up, I obviously had no clue about the politics or religious aspects of Grand Rapids. So I can’t relate to any of that, but if I had to guess, I would’ve said things haven’t changed much. However, that’s clearly untrue.


Just looking up information about the city during the time the movie was filmed, I’ve learned that Grand Rapids was once a highly religious place. Which isn’t surprising as a lot of Michigan still is. However, the city has changed a lot over the decades. Becoming a lot like other major cities across the United States.

It’s fascinating that the city was not too pleased with the idea of a film like Hardcore was filming here. At the time, due to the religious and conservative city of Grand Rapids, work on the movie operated under the name The Pilgrim while filming.

When it was finally revealed that the movie’s title was Hardcore, many businesses and citizens weren’t happy. Claiming they’d probably not allowed production to film at their locations. Today I’m sure they’d welcome it with open arms, in all of it’s debauchery.


The city had other concerns as well, but this time about being perceived as an “unfavorable depiction of middle America.” The early scenes of the Van Dorn family and it’s overly repressive and harsh nature. Also the religious overtones.

It’s said that the movie is based on Schrader’s own upbringing. He was denied social privileges, until he completed high school. Something like that seems hard to believe now, when kids use social media daily. Also, Scott’s depiction of Van Dorn is loosely based on Schrader’s father.

Hardcore is the first movie filmed in Grand Rapids. Many movies are filmed here now, but none as good. It’s fun to see this city in an earlier time, packaged as a time capsule. Maybe even a better time for the city.

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