You Think You're a Film Buff? This Dude Hit 250 Movie Locations in One Epic Road Trip


Dominic throwing the ball around with his son where Field of Dreams was filmed. (Photo: Dominic Pace)

Dominic Pace, bald-headed and goateed, stood beside his two sons and stared out into the cornfield. It was summertime in Dubuque County, Iowa, near a little town called Dyersville. In his hand, Pace held a faded and worn New York Mets cap that belonged to his grandfather, who died the year before.

“My grandfather taught me baseball,” Pace said. “To bring his memory to this place, to crouch down and have a catch with both of my kids,” his voice trails off. “To be able to do that was extremely touching.”

The cornfield, as well as the house nearby, was made an icon in the 1989 film Field of Dreams, and it is one of about 50 or so cinematic landmarks Pace has visited with his family.

It all started some years ago in Los Angeles when Pace came home from working a day shift managing a restaurant in the valley and saw his son Bennett, just 3 years old at the time, zoning out in front of the TV. His older brother, Dante, sat beside him with his eyes glued to an iPad screen.

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Singing “Summer Lovin” on the stands from the movie Grease. (Photo: Dominic Pace)

“They looked like zombies,” Pace said. “We had a few hours of sunlight left, and I just wanted to get them out of the house. I wanted to find something we could do together to make memories.”

The idea started out small, and the plan was simple: Drive to Griffith Park, where Rebel Without a Cause was filmed, and recreate the James Dean fight scene. Pace is a movie buff with a penchant for films from the ’80s and classics from the ’40s and ’50s.

“Dante and I posed together like James Dean, and the light bulb went off,” he said.

From then on, it became Pace’s goal to take his children to as many famous movie landmarks as possible. It would be a journey that would take them across America, from the desert to the plains to the swamps to the cities, crossing state and generational lines.


The Pace family in front of the Brady Bunch house (Photo: Dominic Pace)

They started in Los Angeles with Pace mapping out a different movie landmark about once a week. They visited John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, where the song “We Go Together” was filmed for Grease; they went up to Norwalk to visit Golf N’ Stuff, the miniature golf joint where Ralph Macchio got his first kiss in The Karate Kid; and they hit the Brady Bunch house in Studio City.

When Pace and his family decided to spend a year in New York, their big move quickly turned into an epic road trip.

First stop: John Wayne.

Inside Arches National Park, that glorious red-rock oasis in Utah where director John Ford shot Fort Apache, the Pace family stood in awe of the landscape that captured so many westerns. Luckily for them, it just so happens that Thelma & Louise was shot there too, so the family posed for an apropos selfie.

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Dominic and his wife pose where Goonies was filmed. (Photo: Dominic Pace)

From there it was on to The Goonies and Stand By Me in Oregon, and further east until they hit the John Hughes goldmine of Highland Park, Ill., an affluent north Chicago suburb. They headed to a nearby police armory that doubled as the high school in The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and then a few blocks over to see the Sixteen Candles house.

In Highland Park their white Chrysler Pacifica slowly careened down the leafy, sun-dusted street, pulled in front of a well-to-do house with blue shingles, and parked. The Risky Business house.

Dante stepped out from the back seat, sunglasses stretched around his little face, and he strutted up to the fence, turned around, and struck a Tom Cruise-esque pose while his dad snapped a photo.

And then it was east to Indiana for Rudy, a film that held a special significance for Pace.

“Being an actor, the struggle I’ve been through, Rudy taught me at a young age that no matter what, you never give up. You’re never too low for anything. Hold your dreams high. And standing there on that field with my boys was so important for me. I wanted them to know that.”


Channeling the Parker family in front of the house from A Christmas Story (Photo: Dominic Pace)

They headed east, stopping in Cleveland to see the familiar house you’d know from A Christmas Story, where the owner has turned the small house into a sort of museum for the film. Every summer, the actor who played the role of Ralphie’s little brother, Randy, stops by to give guided tours. From there, the Paces headed down to Pittsburgh for some Flashdance, and then over to Philly for a run up those famous Rocky steps.

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Onward to New Jersey, where Pace met up with his newly widowed grandmother. He told her about the cornfield in Iowa, and they reminisced about the man — his grandfather, her husband — whom she lost after nearly 68 years of marriage.

“It’s about the relationships you have with your family,” Pace said. “It’s about memories. Movies are memories.”

Before he left for New York, Pace told his grandmother that he had one more stop to make, one famous landmark in Jersey. He and grandma hit the turnpike, exited a few minutes later, and parked in front of the fictional Bada Bing strip club from The Sopranos.

Grandma stood in front.

“What is this place?” she asked.

“Just put your two thumps up really high!” Pace said.

She did, with a big smile.

And he took her photo.

(As Told to Kenny Porpora)

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