Tag Archives: Movies by State

Movies by State: So It’s Come Down to This…

Movies By State Map

And we’re back!  After the usual summer hiatus, I’m back publishing articles.  I’m going to start by wrapping up a project I got about halfway through last summer: Movies by State.  You may ask, interested reader, does this mean another 10 or so posts with detailed analysis?  No!  Instead we’re just going to mop this project up in one fell swoop.


One day I’ll do Minnesota justice with a long post, but today I’m just going to quickly summarize.  Let me start by pointing out that a number of movies are set in the North Star State, more than one would think given the New York/LA bias of movie settings.  Fargo (1996) is probably the best known.  The Coen Brothers grew up in St. Louis Park, MN right outside of Minneapolis, so Minnesota references tend to crop up in their movies pretty often.  A Serious Man (2009), one of the Coen’s bleaker efforts, is also set here.

Need a state to set your hockey or winter movie?  Hollywood usually picks Minnesota.  The Mighty Ducks series (1992, 1994, 1996), Jingle All the Way (1996), Miracle (2004), Inside Out (2015), meet this description, although they are films of varying quality to say the least.

Choosing a non-Fargo “definitive” movie set in Minnesota is a tough one.  I would call it a draw between Purple Rain (1984) and Juno (2007).  These movies couldn’t be more different, but that gets to the heart of the matter.  When a state is at once Western, Midwestern, and Northern, it’s hard to pin down with a “definitive” film.


We’re starting to get into Western country, and not just the region, but the genre.  Films set in the Mountain West and Southwest tend to be Westerns.  Montana is no different, although the modern Western tends to dominate with films such as The Horse Whisperer (1998), Legends of the Fall (1994), A River Runs Through It (1992) and The Revenant (2015).

Oddly enough, arguably the best Star Trek movie (at least tied with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)) has large portions set in Montana.  Star Trek: First Contact (1996) takes the best parts of the Next Generation series and successfully translates them to film.  It includes call backs to some of the best episodes of the Next Generation series and the Original Series for good measure.


While Washington State finds itself home to a few notable teen movies, such as The Twilight Series (2008-2012), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), films about extraordinary animals seem to be the main attraction.  These include Harry and the Hendersons (1987), Air Bud (1997), and Free Willy (1993).

For more definitive Washington State films, one should check out either Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle (1993) or Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971).  These are two very different films about the things that isolate us.  One is positive, one is not.


For movies set in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon doesn’t get nearly as much love as its northern neighbor.  The films set here tend to be a mixture of old, mostly forgotten westerns like 1946’s Canyon Passage or random films like Short Circuit (1986).

Fortunately for the State of Oregon, one of the heavy hitters of cinema history is set here too.  1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of only three movies to win Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay.


There are a lot of potatoes in Idaho, but not a lot of movies set there.  2004’s Napoleon Dynamite is probably the best known to modern audiences, or any audiences for that matter.


Wyoming is home to a surprising number of important movies. Heaven’s Gate (1980) was such a massive flop that it brought down an entire studio and effectively ended the career of director Michael Cimino (although its reputation has improved over the years).  As for traditional westerns, Spencer’s Mountain (1963) is key Henry Fonda film, Shane (1953) is considered by many critics as one of the top echelon of old Hollywood movies, and The Virginian was once such a popular tale that they made four movies about it (1914, 1923, 1929, 1946).

For a definitive movie for Wyoming, for breaking conventions but also for being a damn good story, I’m picking 2005’s Brokeback Mountain, whose reputation has only grown more positive in the last eleven years, even after being widely acclaimed when it first came out.  A close second is 1992’s Unforgiven.


Colorado is pretty fertile ground for movie settings, especially movies involving mountains.  There are “weirdos in the mountains” movies like Misery (1987), skiing in the mountains movies like Dumb and Dumber (1994), fire in the mountains movies like Always (1989), and chaos in the mountains movies like South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999).

Needless to say, the definitive Colorado movie is also set in the mountains.  Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) plants itself firmly in the first category of weirdos in the mountains.  Dangerous, axe murdering weirdos that is.


John Ford famously filmed a ton of movies in Utah.  Unfortunately most of them are “set” in Texas.  There aren’t a ton of notable films set in the Beehive state.  Carnival of Souls (1962), 127 Hours (2010), and Con Air (1997) pretty much sum up the selection – the strange, the independent, and the violent.


Viva Las Vegas!  No, seriously, if it weren’t for Sin City there’d be like two movies set in Nevada.  I should note that one of them is The Godfather: Part II (1974), although much of that movies is also set in New York, Florida, Cuba, and Italy.

As for Vegas films, there are no shortage.  Both Ocean’s Eleven (1960 and 2001), Swingers (1996), Rain Man (1988), Leaving Las Vegas 1995), and Showgirls (1995) are a few examples, many of which came out in the mid-90’s.  It’s hard to call a definitive Vegas movie, although 1995’s Casino has pretty much all the elements that you expect from the Vegas strip: sleaze, flashiness, and knockoffs.  In this case, Casino is essentially a re-run of Goodfellas, although with a juicer part for Robert DeNiro.

New Mexico

The most iconic film set in New Mexico is not a film at all, rather the TV series Breaking Bad.  Otherwise, it’s mostly Westerns set here, like Stagecoach (1939), For a Few Dollars More (1965), High Noon (1952), and City Slickers (1991).

There’s quite a few random films you wouldn’t think of set here too, such as Thor (2011), the High School Musical series, Natural Born Killers (1994), and Contact (1997).


Arizona has a similar profile to New Mexico when it comes to films set there.  There are random movies, such as Raising Arizona (1987)and Little Miss Sunshine (2011), but mostly it’s westerns set here.  My Darling Clementine (1946), Tombstone (1993), 3:10 to Yuma (1957) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)  are some examples.

The most iconic Arizona movie?  By far Psycho (1960), which is a contender for best American film overall.


The Hawai’i movie usually involves some combination of surfing, beaches, and vacation.  Movies such as Lilo and Stitch (2002), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Blue Hawaii (1961), and North Shore (1987) meet this description.

That isn’t to say that all Hawai’i movies are fun and games.  Consider for example The Descendants (2011) or Tora Tora Tora (1970).  Indeed, the most iconic Hollywood film set in Hawai’i is From Here to Eternity (1953), which is about the waning days before the bombing at Pearl Harbor.


Movies set in Alaska usually involve sled dogs such as Balto (1995)  or the Alaska Gold Rush, such as North to Alaska (1960).  Insomnia (2002), Mystery, Alaska (1999), and The Grey (2011) are set in The Last Frontier too.

The most iconic Alaska film is one of the oldest Hollywood classics.  The Gold Rush (1925) is commonly cited as one of the finest silent films.  Considering that his later masterpieces had some element of sound effects or speech in them, it could also be considered Charlie Chaplin’s finest purely silent film.


How many American films do you think are set in California?  I would guess roughly every 2 or 3 out of five.  Hollywood may have mastered the art of filming far away lands in Southern California back-lots, but when they are reaching for a setting, the American film industry has a tendency to settle in its own backyard.  I’ve avoided “top 5” or “top 10” lists in this project, but I’ve decided that it’s the easiest way to talk about films set in the Golden State.  Here, therefore, are your top 10 California films in alphabetical order:

  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Blazing Saddles (1974)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • East of Eden (1955)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • Vertigo (1958)

Feel free to disagree with the above list.

Anyway that’s (finally) a wrap on Movies by State.

(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe







Movies by State: The Greater Midwest

Nebraska Prairie
Photo Courtesy National Park Service

This image of Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, NE brings us to our next category – movies set in the great American prairie.  There are a lot of states in this section, so let’s get started from north to south.

North Dakota

North Dakota.  The very name conjures up images of…well, not very much.  The state board of tourism has a tendency to buy out hours of commercial time during sporting events in neighboring states in an attempt to convince people to visit doughnut shops and places rightfully called “the badlands.”  Yes everyone – North Dakota is essentially the New Jersey/Jerry Gergich of the Midwest.

What movies are set there?  Even the most notable movie named after a city in North Dakota isn’t actually set in that city (more on that later).  There are a couple of westerns that deal with the Battle of Little Bighorn (which took place in Montana) like 7th Calvary (1956) and Bugles in the Afternoon (1952).  Cult horror film Leprechaun (1993) is also set in North Dakota, although it was shot in California and it’s terrible.  Man, North Dakota just can’t catch a break.

South Dakota

Just like in real life, South Dakota gets more attention that North Dakota as a setting of movies – although not by much.  There aren’t many more feature films by volume set here than North Dakota, and most are primarily set in other states.  However, there is one movie that is set here in a rather unforgettable fashion.

Sure, North by Northwest (1959) is set in several different states, but who could forget the epic showdown on top of Mount Rushmore?  Another key…ahem…scene, is also set in South Dakota (probably).  On a train.  You know which one.

I was talking about the train going through the tunnel.  What were you thinking about?  It’s a double entendre you say?  Hmmm…I’ll have to check that out again.

Yep.  Double entendre.  Anyway on to the next state…


Iowa movies get a lot of unforgettable lines.  Our state fair is a great state fair (State Fair (1945)).  Seventy-six trombones led the big parade (The Music Man (1962)).   I’m having a birthday party, but you’re not invited, but you can come if you want to (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)).  I was just going to have some iced tea and split the atom, but that can wait. (The Bridges of Madison County (1995)). There’s a separation between religion and insurance – it’s in the constitution (Cedar Rapids (2011)).  

Okay those got increasingly more obscure.  But it sets up the most commonly quoted Iowa movie, 1989’s Field of Dreams.  It’s surprising how often baseball has come up in these posts, but this particular film, like the others, is hard to argue with.  After all, as James Earl Jones said in the film

People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.


Like its neighbors, a good number of westerns have been set in Nebraska over the years.  The creators of The Far Horizons (1955) thought the story of Lewis and Clark was too boring, so they made some stuff up.  The Nebraskan (1953) is a western set in Nebraska.  I just learned about it looking at Wikipedia this afternoon and I know absolutely nothing else about it.  Boys Don’t Cry (1999) is a kind of modern western, although it certainly doesn’t share the same themes, or thankfully, poor quality of the aforementioned films.

When most people from outside of Nebraska think of the state, they think of its large agricultural industry.  Although Children of the Corn (1984) is set there – and NOT about agriculture – many of the most notable films set in the Cornhusker State are set in its two biggest cities – Lincoln and Omaha.  Terms of Endearment (1984) ends up in Lincoln.  So does Nebraska (2013), well eventually anyway.   Election (1999) and About Schmidt (2002) are set in Omaha.

The most notable film set in Nebraska, in my opinion, is also largely set in Omaha.  Well, it’s not set there so much as grounded there.  Up in the Air (2009) has aged remarkably well for a film that is very much a creature of its time and place.  My bold prediction of the day is that it becomes known as one of George Clooney’s two or three finest performances.  If you haven’t seen it since it came out (or at all), I highly recommend giving it another viewing.


The Show Me State.  I was thinking that I bit off more than I could chew lumping this in with the other states in this article, but, surprisingly, there actually aren’t that many films set in Missouri.

Last year’s fine film noir Gone Girl (2014) is set here.  As is Waiting for Guffman (1997), Winter’s Bone (2010), and Parenthood (1989).  There are a few more, but this article is running long and if you want a list of movies, go to Wikipedia.

The most notable Missouri film?  It’s probably the 1944 Judy Garland vehicle Meet Me in St. Louis.  I personally find it to be an annoying movie with incredibly low stakes – I mean, who really cares if they move to New York?  Anyway, most people seem to like it and it gave us one of our finest Christmas songs.  The “real” lyrics to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas are a little depressing, but Judy Garland’s performance here is a highlight.


Any movie about Superman will have a large chunk set in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas.  It’s never clear where Metropolis actually is, it could be in Kansas for all we know.  Contrary to popular belief – Metropolis is NOT New York City, Gotham City is.  Gotham and Metropolis are two distinctly separate cities in the DC Comics universe.

There are few other films set in Jayhawk country, like Capote (2005) and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987), but there is one film in particular worth highlighting.  The Wizard of Oz (1939) does not actually take place in Kansas for the most part (or does it? was it really all a dream?), but its grounding in reality adds to its emotional effect.  It remains one of the finest American films ever made.


We’re not in Kansas anymore, and we’re at the end of our article.  Oklahoma doesn’t get a ton of air-time from Hollywood, but there are few notable films set here.  August: Osage County (2013), Oklahoma! (1955), and Far and Away (1992) are some examples.  The most notable?  The movie about the constant bane of this entire region of the country: 1996’s Twister.


Next, the state that I currently inhabit – Minnesota.

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

Movies by State: The Great Lakes States

Lake Michigan
Photo Courtesy National Park Service

So here’s the thing – there will be separate posts for Illinois and Minnesota, and I’ve already posted about New York.  Otherwise, four more states border the Great Lakes: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  Plenty of American films have been set in these four states.


Films set in Ohio are a bit of a grab-bag of genres – the only one that’s really missing is the Western…well that’s what one would think anyway.  Annie Oakley (1935) would beg to differ.  There are political movies like The Ides of March (2011), buddy comedies like Tommy Boy (1995), sports movies like Major League (1989), controversial movies like Lolita (1962), teen movies like Heathers (1988), and bizarre movies like Howard the Duck (1986).

The iconic Ohio movie? In honor of the great Wes Craven, who left our mortal coil a few weeks ago, I’m going to go with 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has been turned into a parody by subsequent sequels, but the original is a terrifying and existential masterpiece that blurs the distinction between reality and dreams.


Michigan is shaped like a mitt, so Michigan folk will often make a mitt shape with their hands to point out where they’re from in the state.  Equally clever have been the movies set in the great State of Michigan – that is unless you count American Pie (1999) and its ilk, then there are clever movies and really dumb ones.  Fortunately 8 Mile (2002), The Crow (1994), Gran Torino (2008), and Hoffa (1992) are smarter than that.

The quintessential Michigan movie?  I’m going to pull one out of left field and go with 1987’s Robocop.  The movie’s setting of a deteriorating industrial Detroit hits close to home these days, but it’s sneakily one of the smartest action movies of the 1980’s.  It has continued to age remarkably well for a movie of its time and genre.


Due respect to Natural Born Killers (1994), most of the notable films set in Indiana are sports movies.  Breaking Away (1979), A League of Their Own (1992), Rudy (1993), Blue Chips (1994), and Knute Rockne: All American (1940) are some good examples.  There is one sports movie, however, that I could have simply mentioned by name and moved on to Wisconsin.

Hoosiers (1986) is considered by many to be the finest film ever made about American sports.  Gene Hackman gives one of the best performances of his career, and with his career, that’s saying a lot.  I recently watched it again this summer and I’m definitely glad that I did.


Of the Great Lakes states, Wisconsin is the one that gets the least amount of play as a movie setting.  Wayne’s World (1992), Starman (1984), and Bridesmaids (2011) are set there, of which Bridesmaids is by far the best.  Fortunately plenty of iconic TV series (Happy Days, That 70’s Show, Picket Fences) are set in the cheesy cheese state where cheese is made.

Up next: Illinois

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe


Movies by State – Texas

El Capitan
Photo Courtesy National Park Service

That’s El Capitan, but not the one in Yosemite, the one in Western Texas.  The National Park Service website has a ton of great images of the National Parks by the way, if you like what I’ve been finding in this series.  In any event, Texas movies are disproportionately Westerns, but that’s only because there are so many Westerns.

Modern Texas

Modern Texas has given us a few fine movies as well. Boyhood (2014), North Dallas Forty (1979), Dazed and Confused (1993), and Reality Bites (1994) are all non-Westerns and all worth a look for various reasons.

Some recent movies set in the Lone Star State straddle the line between Westerns and modern Texas.  No Country for Old Men (2007) may be the Coen Brothers’ finest film.  Dallas Buyer’s Club (2013) contains numerous western themes while it tells its story of the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s.  Bottle Rocket (1996) is a modern film about a very Western theme – bandits.


Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about Westerns.  Sure this category has gone out of style in recent years (despite Quentin Tarantino’s endless quest to revive it), but it remains ones of the bedrock styles of American cinema.  For a Few Dollars More (1965) and other Sergio Leone style “spaghetti westerns” were often set in Texas.  Giant (1956), Rio Bravo (1959), Rio Grande (1950), Red River (1948), and the Wild Bunch (1969) are a few more examples.

John Ford’s the Searchers is one of the 3-4 most important films to come out of the Western genre.  It’s a complicated and controversial film for numerous reasons.  John Wayne typically plays the “white hat” in these films, but Ethan Edwards is a monster.  Even if Edwards is taken as the villain of the piece, his quarry, the Commanche warlord Scar (Henry Brandon), is rightfully seen in most circles as more of the same from Ford – another Native American unfairly depicted as a violent barbarian.  I went into Ford’s complicated relationship with the depiction of Native Americans in a previous post.

The Worst Film Ever Made

No discussion of Texas cinema would be complete without an honorary mention of Manos: the Hands of Fate (1966).  When El Paso fertilizer salesman Hal Warren made a bet that he could make a cheap horror movie for under $20,000, the result was an incoherent mess of a film that sits on its own in the bottom of the cinema barrel.  There it sits, soaking in its own juices like so much Torgo flop-sweat, waiting for unsuspecting viewers to be confused by its bizarre contents.


Next Up – the Great Lakes States

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe



Movies by State – Southeast

Smokey Mountains
Photo Courtesy National Park Service

Movies by state continues!  Yep, we still have way too many posts in this series left, but I’m going to finish it even it takes the rest of the year!


To Hollywood, Kentucky conjures up images of coal miners and horses. But for every Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) and Secretariat (2010), there are actually two or three frontier movies like The Kentuckian (1955).

The most notable film set in Kentucky is actually a documentary.  Harlan County USA (1976) tells the tale of a violent coal miners strike from a visceral first person point of view.  The filmmakers are even assaulted by strike-breakers at one point.  While the story it tells is poignant, the film itself set the standard for dozens of on-the-scene documentaries to follow.


One would think that Tennessee, home of Davey Crockett would get some more frontier love from Hollywood, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  Music gets a big focus with movies like Nashville (1975) and Walk the Line (2005).  There are a couple of Civil War films too, like Buster Keatons’s The General (1926).  It has its share of horror movies as well, like The Evil Dead (1981).

Speaking of which, the most notable film set in Tennessee is also the most terrifying. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is mostly set in Tennessee.  It remains the only horror movie to win a Best Picture Oscar.


The Deep South has a horrifying history.  Films set in Mississippi often portray both that history and its consequences.  Not every movie set in Mississippi deals with themes of racism and injustice, but most do.  In Mississippi Burning (1988) and A Time to Kill (1996), racism and crime take center stage.  The Help (2011) also deals with racism in a less visceral, but equally effective way.  Even O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)  addresses some of these themes, but in a far more tangential manner.

The most notable film – 1965’s In the Heat of the Night.  Sidney Poitier’s legendary performance as Vigil Tibbs, a tough detective investigating a brutal murder while passing through a Southern town.  His performance is so iconic that it’s easy to forget that his co-lead Rod Steiger actual won Best Actor for his role as the racist police chief whom Tibbs reluctantly helps.


Forrest Gump (1994) hasn’t aged well – it’s essentially a sappy love letter to the Baby Boomer generation.  It’s still the first movie most people think about when asked to name a move set in Alabama, however.  Recently, Selma (2014) earned near universal praise from critics.  Tim Burton’s underrated Big Fish (2003) is set here too.

The most notable movies set here, however, is still 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Recently released books aside, Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch is still a hero in every way imaginable.  It’s one of those rare movies that improve on their source material, even considering here that the source material is a literary classic.


Not many movies have been set in Arkansas.  Both versions of True Grit (1969 and 2010)  are set there. The most noteworthy? Probably Ridley Scott’s classic road trip film Thelma and Louise (1991).


I assumed lots of movies had been set in New Orleans, and I assumed correctly. Beast of the Southern Wild (2012), The Buccaneer (1938), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951),  and Interview with the Vampire (1994) are only a few of the dozens of movies set in The Crescent City.  Even so, I still get this feeling New Orleans could use some more love from Hollywood as a setting.

Not all Louisiana movies are set in the Big Easy.  Dead Man Walking (1995), The Green Mile (1999), and Steel Magnolias (1989) are set in greater Louisiana.  So is 2013’s masterpiece 12 Years a Slave – which as time passes may surpass the Marlon Brando version of Streetcar as the most notable film set here.
Next time – Texas.
(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

Movies by State – Florida

Photo Courtesy National Park Service

Florida.  Yes – that alligator lives in Everglades National Park (photo courtesy National Park Service).  And yes – I chose an alligator instead of an orange grove, beach, or theme park.  Why, you might ask?  Because Florida movies are kind of like alligators:

Gator are Exciting!

Gators are exciting to watch when they get going after an unfortunate bird.  So too are the many action movies and thrillers set in Florida.  Bad Boys (1995), Miami Vice (2006), Scarface (1983) and Body Heat (1981) are some examples, but even James Bond got into the action with 1964’s classic Goldfinger.

Gators are Alien!

Are gators space aliens?  No – but they are one of the most unique species on the planet.  In this circular, tangential, and only slightly accurate way, they are like the many science fiction movies set in Florida.  Armageddon (1998), Contact (1997), and Cocoon (1985) are some examples.

Gators are Sporty!

Well, there’s a notable college sports team called the Gators anyway.  Florida is home to a lot of sports films including Any Given Sunday (1999), 42 (2013), and Foxcatcher (2014).

Gators are Reclusive!

Much like Charles Foster Kane towards the end of his life – gators are mysterious and hard to find.  Citizen Kane (1941) often tops critics’ list as the top movie of all time.  It is certainly among the most influential.  A young Orson Welles invented several important editing techniques and film conventions that are still with us today.  Next time you are wondering where the idea came from to use news reports to tell back story – look no further.

Gators are Dumb!

On the opposite end of the movie spectrum from Citizen Kane are the numerous B movies, ill-conceived sequels, and gross out teen films set in the Sunshine State.  Porky’s (1981) and its unfortunate sequels,  American Idol cash-in From Justin to Kelly (2003), the so very unnecessary Revenge of the Nerds II (1987), Earnest Saves Christmas (1988), and Mystery Science Theater favorite Revenge of the Creature (1955) are set here.

Next time – The Southeast!

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe

Movies by State: The South Atlantic

Photo Courtesy National Park Service

This will be a short but manageable post. We’re only covering four states today: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.


Like its neighbor, Maryland, most movies set in Virginia are really movies set in the District of Columbia.  Granted large chunks of movies set at the CIA and Pentagon are set in Virginia, so Spy (2015), Mission Impossible (1996), and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) count.

Virginia is for lovers, but it’s also for poorly received historical epics. Mel Gibson’s The Patriot (2000) is so bloated and pompous that it has no problem impaling a British general on an American flag.  Gods and Generals (2003) plays like your uncle’s drunken Civil War re-enactment – and it’s just as long too.  And there’s Pocahontas (1995), which ended Disney’s early 1990’s winning streak, cheesy song and all.

The most notable film set in Virginia?  I’m going to go out on a limb.  2000’s Remember the Titans is one of the ten or twenty best sports movies, and maybe the best movie ever made about American football.  It holds up surprisingly well as it ages, especially for a Disney movie based on a true story.

North Carolina

North Carolina is well represented in the American movie canon.  Cold Mountain (2003), This is Spinal Tap (1984), Tin Cup (1996), Carrie (1976), Pitch Perfect (2012) and both versions of Cape Fear (1962 and 1991) are solid to excellent films.

For better or worse, North Carolina also has a genre that I’ll call “Outer Banks Fluff.”  Films like Safe Haven (2013) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) paint the Outer Banks as the place to set your disposable horror film or cheesy romance.  My kingdom for a Wright Brothers biopic.

Like its northern neighbor, I’ll go with a sports movie for North Carolina.  Many of the best sports movies are baseball films, but Bull Durham (1988) particularly stands out.  It’s at once funny and poignant, a masterpiece of quintessentially American storytelling.

South Carolina

The Palmetto State doesn’t get a ton of love from Hollywood.  The Notebook (2004) is probably the most notable recent movie set there.  Well, except for Magic Mike XXL (2015) – that’s set in South Carolina too.  Other quality South Carolina movies include Doc Hollywood (1991), and the first half of Full Metal Jacket (1987).

The most pivotal scene in Glory (1989) is of course the Battle of Charleston Harbor.  I would call Glory the best movie about the American Civil War, at least in my opinion.  Other films about the Civil War are often incredibly boring or problematic in other ways.  It’s my pick for the most notable South Carolina movie.

The first feature-length film of any type is set in South Carolina.  Unfortunately this film is The Birth of a Nation (1915), which can be charitably be described as an abomination before all things reasonable, holy, and/or just.  D.W. Griffith was a piece of work too – but that’s an article for another day.


The final state for today is the home of peaches and bulldogs – the great state of Georgia.  There are actually a lot of movies set here, and they aren’t all Deliverance (1972) either.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), and Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) are set here.  So are most of Tyler Perry’s movies.

The most notable film set in Georgia?  It’s by far 1939’s Gone with the Wind.  There are few films that have been studied and debated as much as the David O. Selznick produced Civil War epic, and with good reason.  It remains both incredibly popular, and incredibly controversial.


Next time – sunny Florida!

(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe