The 1987 movie Made in U.S.A. opens in Centralia and the surrounding coal region of Pennsylvania. The two main characters, Dar and Tuck, are played by actors Adrian Pasdar and the late Chris Penn. The story follows their journey out of Centralia to the sunny beaches of California.
The film was shot in the mid-1980s as the residents of Centralia, PA were leaving and their former homes were being razed. The movie includes scenes of Centralia’s mine fire, boarded up homes, and desolate streets. It also includes some amazing shots of buildings being torn down.
One thing to note is that at the beginning of the film Dar and Tuck discuss how the mine fire began on Good Friday. Given the holiday, no one would leave church to put it out. This is incorrect, however, and was probably developed by the filmmakers for dramatic effect. The fire actually began the day before Memorial Day.
Made in U.S.A. was written by Zbigniew Kempinski and directed by Ken Friedmen. It’s 82 minutes long and was distributed by TriStar Pictures. For a great radio piece about Centralia Pennsylvania, checkout this podcast about Centralia by Radiolab.
poor Centralia. everyone got bought out. now it’s a ghost town. no one is left. but a few families who own coal mining company and are still mining the spider views that shoot out from the mam out vein. lived near the town and it’s amazing how much coal they are getting from those veins.
Hi Jim, are there still people living in the town? My sister lives in Benton Pa. my son has always been interested in seeing the town..
@Carol I have family in the next town over, Mt. Carmel and there are a few hold outs still living in Centralia. The post office and main road were the only things I remembering seeing the last time I was there Oct 2016. The whole area has significantly declined over the last ten years with nothing really left to see. It’s definitely not how I remember it back in the eighties.
I’m hoping, one day, I can purchase this Film Digitally. I used to own the VHS, it’s a great film. As for Centralia, it’s such a sad story.