Just a few minor adjustments to my 50-state movie list (see the post immediately below this one). I originally didn’t have one for Delaware, but Todd Mason weighed in with Trigger Man, a 2007 effort that looks like a pretty good film, so I added it.

Upon further reflection, I replaced South Dakota’s North By Northwest with Dances With Wolves. I know, I know, Alfred Hitchcock being replaced by Kevin Costner? Such heresy! But frankly, Dances With Wolves is a better film, and it’s much more of a South Dakota experience, whereas North By Northwest‘s principal connection to that state is basically confined to the dramatic finale on Mount Rushmore.

Moving on to Oklahoma, a big mea culpa from me for neglecting to include John Ford’s sensational classic, The Grapes Of Wrath. Mistake corrected.

I also added The Baron Of Arizona to Arizona and In Cold Blood to Kansas. If you haven’t seen The Baron Of Arizona, go find it. It’s a true story, yet so preposterous, you won’t believe it. Vincent Price is great in the title role. And as for Truman Capote’s great book brought to the screen, it’s a Kansas classic, albeit drenched in tragedy.

Just a note of explanation. Fargo is, of course, set almost entirely in Minnesota, and the title notwithstanding, it portrays the North Star State and its great people pretty well. Besides, North Dakota has its own great film, Northern Lights.

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  1. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  2. Joyce Ann

    At first thought, I would add the following:

    Texas: Places in the Heart (Sally Field channeled by Grandmother, her mother-in-law, her Aunt Kit, who raised her orphaned 3 half siblings after the rest of the family died from measles carried by Civil War troops passing through East Texas). Our family was there before the Republic. A Great-great Grandfather may have served in the Texas Navy on the “Texian Schooner Invincible” in Matagorda Bay, to keep supplies from Mexican troops.

    And there is no way I could have done what those women did. My grandmother raised 10 Good Kids with what was on her land and a cotton cash crop. A lot more people in Texas made a living growing cotton, than producing oil.

    Arkansas: Hang ’em High (this included Indiana Territory, so might also be counted for Oklahoma.

    Oklahoma: Far and Away. The story of the Okies was told in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and is about California and socialism. Far and Away was about the Sooner’s Land Rush. Those with land in the northeast prospered as farmers during the depression and stayed in OK. That part of the state beneath the Ozarks is referred to as “Green Country.” It was mostly the sharecroppers in the dustbowl who had to move on.

    I don’t think a movie has been made about “The Trail of Tears,” but it would certainly complete the story.

    Louisiana: Having watched the new Conan O’Brien promotional ad, as he washes his car, I feel compelled to recommend Cool Hand Luke. I wonder if anyone but me remembers that movie’s car washing scene–precursor to “The Wet T-Shirt Party.”

    If the coming of age movie in Texas: The last picture show (Ben Johnson’s monologue still leaves me breathless.) is on the list, then for:

    Indiana: Breaking Away\

    Pureto Rico: Does
    West Side Story/ count?

    Joyce Ann (Harris) Fugit

  3. Joyce Ann

    New York: Forgot this coming of age movie: Saturday Night Fever. About Tony’s awareness that he must get across that Brooklyn Bridge. (At least that’s they way you explained it to me and I believed you.)

  4. Mike Dennis

    Joyce Ann–thanks for the thoughtful comments. SATURDAY NiGHT FEVER is indeed a great New York movie, with John Travolta dreaming of crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, but it just missed the cut, iMO. For me, it doesn’t rise to the level of greatness that is achieved by the four that I listed.

    COOL HAND LUKE is a great film, but doesn’t convey the sense of Louisiana-ness that is necessary for inclusion here.

    And PLACES IN THE HEART just isn’t in the same league as THE LAST PICTURE SHOW or THE ALAMO.

  5. Joyce Ann

    I must differ with you about Places in the Heart. The Last Picture Show was very exciting and flattering to young, with-it Texans, because Hollywood, especially someone as talented as Bogdonovich (who very soon disappeared), deigned to produce something so modern and edgy about our backward state. However, The Last Picutre Show could take place anywhere. There is nothing in the plot or characters unique to Texas and Texans. As I recall, this was written by Larry McMurtry, which, among many, sanctified the novel and movie. There have been several of these artsy type films come out since: (e.g., Whose Eating Gilbert Grape?

    Places in the Heart was also written by a Texan. And, quiet frankly, uniquely portrayed the Texas drive to work hard, think, compromise, and survive. And, the reality of “King Cotton.” My father adored this movie and identified strongly with much of the movie. He would never understand what The Last Picture Show was about.

    He, of course, would totally agree with your choice of The Duke playing Davy Crockett at The Battle of the Alamo on the Bracketville set (a sheep and goat raising community in West Texas). Upon concluding my radiation therapy a few years ago, My radiologist gave me a plaque with a quotation once uttered by The Duke: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” My doctor’s name was pronounced “Duke.” But, it had a czech spelling like (Dijeuc??). His entire offices were decorated in John Wayne Memorabilia.

    The revisionist ideas concerning what actually happened at The Alamo never took hold. I don’t know if you noticed, but the last version was awful. I was in Austin while it was being filmed. They had a difficult time locating enough thin Hispanics to play Santa Ana’s troops, and every member of the legislature tried to fanagal an appearance in the film. But, the “Thirteen Days of Glory,” is a choice we will not dispute.

    BTW–I neglected to inclued Twister for Oklahoma.

  6. Mike Dennis

    My point exactly. Your dad might not get THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, even though the characters were pure Texas, but he sure gets THE ALAMO. You’re the next generation, so you do get THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Look at it this way. It could’ve been worse. I could’ve picked THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE Part 2. Or GUNFIGHT AT ABILENE. Or FOUR FOR TEXAS. Or maybe EXTREME PREJUDICE. Or how about URBAN COWBOY?

  7. Mike Dennis

    I also must say that THE LAST PICTURE SHOW is a very authentic re-creation of small-town Texas in the early 1950s. The lonely, windblown town, the values, Ben Johnson’s character, Ellen Burstyn’s character, the music, the importance of football, all of it, it all adds up to a realistic portrait. Sure, the story could’ve applied anywhere, but the cinematic experience was one of pure Texas.

  8. Joyce Ann

    In 1950, my father had left the small Texas town he and his father were born in for Dallas, married my mother, and I was born. My father had even operated the reel to reel in the “movie house” in nearby Quitman, before it closed.

    But, we visited almost every weekend. A few of his siiblings stayed there and their children were raised in that atmosphere. Most of our neighbors, relatives, and friends were from similar small towns. My cousins whose father worked for the Extension Service lived in small towns (Wortham, Corsicana) all their lives, and the characters in The Last Picture Show did epitomize this group. However, I still believe that the experience was not unique to Texas, and could have taken place in just about any state on the Great Plains.

    Or, perhaps you are correct. Texas was on the brink of explosive change in thought, action, purpose, direction, and the attenion of the World. And I don’t see that happened to the same extent elsewhere at that time.

    I did find it interesting that neither you nor the original creator of the list named “Giant.” On his original list he named the grim “There will be blood” to acknowledge the importance of oil production to the state. Giant at least featured James Dean and had a scene in Neiman Marcus, so I don’t see why it had to be overlooked.

    Texas Chainsaw massacre would be okay, because it features a Texas gal–one of my favs–Renee Zellweger.
    And, of course, I thought about Urban Cowboy featuring another Texas gal who grew up in my part of Dallas County and (sort of) married Mick Jagger (He once came to the Mequite Rodeo, you know)–Jerry Hall.

    But, yes you are correct. The cinematography was fabulous in The Last Picture Show, as it was in No Country for Old Men–That lightning and Those thunderstorms in the background of the desert were familiar, and comforting to an old Texan like me. And in both movies there was that sense of expansivness you seem to only get from the big, blue Texas sky by day, or (as the song sings) the big bright stars at night.

    Sorry for the many, long posts. I just cannot walk away from any error or slight to my beloved Texas. God Bless Texas! Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!

  9. Joyce Ann

    Thanks also for not including Bonnie & Clyde–that is more of a “Dallas” movie (they were such trash–my mother’s uncle worked with Clyde from time to time in a glass factory.)

    And thanks for not including that Channelview Cheerleader Mom movie–disgraceful!

  10. Joyce Ann

    i don’t know if you have ever noticed, but Larry McMurty usually writes negatively about Texas, which I suspect is part of the allure for those from Hollywood who must condescend. This has something to do with my distrust of Last Picure Show. However, those cousins who were epitomized by the characters in LPS met tragic, sad, violent ends–probably because they had not learned to accept and adjust to change, much like in the movie.

  11. THERE WILL BE BLOOD was set almost entirely in California, so obviously that guy wasn’t paying attention. He just saw “oil” and equated it with “Texas”. Meanwhile, BONNIE AND CLYDE was set in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and elsewhere, so it really doesn’t qualify as a Texas film.

  12. Joyce Ann

    So, what about Giant?

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