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.