Back in 2010, I surfed Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine and saw a link to a list of the 50 states and the best movie associated with each state. A pretty interesting concept, I thought. But the more I looked over them, the more I disagreed with most of them. For example, Recount was listed as the best movie ever associated with Florida. Of course, that’s just bullshit whining over the result of the 2000 presidential election. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was listed as the best-ever Illinois movie, and well, you get the idea. There was plenty of room for improvement.

So improvement arrived in major doses in the form of my own list in late 2010. Two years later, I revised the list somewhat, and now I revise it again. I’ve included the District of Columbia, and I also recognized there were a lot of states that had many great movies connected to them. It’s too difficult to select one great movie that bespeaks Florida, for example, so I listed four. In those cases, the multiple listings are arranged chronologically.

In addition, I gave New York City a separate listing apart from New York State. The city is such an iconic place, and so many movies were filmed or set there, it’s very easy to forget the rest of the state, so I split the city off.

I might add that these films were not necessarily shot in their respective states, but for the most part each film is set there, or it has a strong organic link to that state. Arkansas, for instance, gets A Face In The Crowd. Only the opening scenes are set in Arkansas, and probably none of it was actually filmed there. The film then swiftly moves on to Memphis and New York, but the central character, played by Andy Griffith (in a blistering screen debut), is an Arkansan through and through. His persona drips with Arkansas throughout the movie, regardless of his surroundings. The movies I chose, like A Face In The Crowd, must somehow convey the essence of the state to make the list.

In some cases, the movies I selected were not overflowing with greatness themselves, but I felt they did showcase the state strongly enough to make the list. Big Jim McLain is not one of John Wayne’s top 5 films, but it showed pre-statehood, Cold War-era Hawaii in a very different, very evocative way, so much so that the film made my list.

Other films, which I consider to be masterpieces, like The Wild Bunch or Citizen Kane, are not really associated with any particular state in a meaningful way, so they don’t make the list. The Wild Bunch, for instance, was set in Texas and Mexico, but there is nothing particularly Texan about the movie, despite its being one of the greatest films of all time.

All set? Heeeeere we go. And I expect complete agreement.

ALABAMA:  The Phenix City Story (1955), To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

ALASKA:  Cry Vengeance (1954), The Far Country (1955)

ARIZONA:  The Baron Of Arizona (1950), 3:10 To Yuma (1958)

ARKANSAS:  A Face In The Crowd (1957), West Of Memphis (2012)

CALIFORNIA:  A Star Is Born (1954), Bullitt (1968), Fat City (1972) The Player (1992), LA Confidential (1997), Go For Sisters (2013)

COLORADO:  Misery (1990)

CONNECTICUT:  Holiday Inn (1942), Christmas In Connecticut (1945), The Ice Storm (1997)

DELAWARE:  Trigger Man (2007)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), The Exorcist (1974), JFK (1991), Enemy Of The State (1998)

FLORIDA:  Key Largo (1948), Body Heat (1981), Scarface (1983), The Boynton Beach Club (2006)

GEORGIA:  Gone With The Wind (1939), Deliverance (1972)

HAWAII:  Big Jim McLain (1952), From Here To Eternity (1953)

IDAHO:  Duchess Of Idaho (1950)

ILLINOIS:  Halloween (1978), The Untouchables (1987)

INDIANA:  A Christmas Story (1983), Hoosiers (1986)

IOWA:  The Bridges Of Madison County (1995), Cedar Rapids (2011)

KANSAS:  Picnic (1955), In Cold Blood (1967)

KENTUCKY:  Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), The Insider (1999)

LOUISIANA:  All The King’s Men (1949), King Creole (1958), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Hard Times (1975), Twelve Years A Slave (2013)

MAINE:  Pet Sematary (1989), The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

MARYLAND:  Hairspray (1988), Avalon (1990)

MASSACHUSETTS:  The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973), The Verdict (1982), Monument Avenue (1998), The Town (2010)

MICHIGAN:  Anatomy Of A Murder (1959), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

MINNESOTA:  Fargo (1996), A Simple Plan (1998)

MISSISSIPPI:  The Long Hot Summer (1958), In The Heat Of The Night (1967), Mississippi Burning (1988)

MISSOURI:  Winter’s Bone (2010)

MONTANA:  They Died With Their Boots On (1941), Little Big Man (1970)

NEBRASKA:  Election (1999)

NEVADA:  Ocean’s 11 (1960), The Godfather Part II (1974), The Shootist (1976), Bugsy (1991), Casino (1995), Hard Eight (1996)

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  To Die For (1995)

NEW JERSEY:  Atlantic City (1980), The Wrestler (2008)

NEW MEXICO:  Ride The Pink Horse (1947), The Big Carnival (1951), Them! (1954)

NEW YORK CITY: The Hustler (1961), The Godfather (1972), Across 110th Street (1972), Saturday Night Fever (1977)

NEW YORK STATE: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), Niagara (1954), The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), The Last Seduction (1994)

NORTH CAROLINA:  Cape Fear (1962), Bull Durham (1988)

NORTH DAKOTA:  The Purchase Price (1932), Northern Lights (1979)

OHIO:  Heathers (1988), Major League (1989)

OKLAHOMA: The Grapes Of Wrath (1940), Oklahoma! (1955)

OREGON:  Portland Exposé (1957), Mr Holland’s Opus (1995)

PENNSYLVANIA:  Night Of The Living Dead (1968), Rocky (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Groundhog Day (1993)

RHODE ISLAND:  Reversal Of Fortune (1990)

SOUTH CAROLINA:  The Lords Of Discipline (1983)

SOUTH DAKOTA:  Badlands (1973), Dances With Wolves (1990)

TENNESSEE: Thunder Road (1958), Mystery Train (1989)

TEXAS:  Red River (1948), The Alamo (1960), The Last Picture Show (1971), Blood Simple (1984), No Country For Old Men (2007)

UTAH:  Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

VERMONT:  Baby Boom (1987), State And Main (2000) 

VIRGINIA:  Remember The Titans (2000), Lawless (2012)

WASHINGTON:  House Of Games (1987), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

WEST VIRGINIA:  Matewan (1987)

WISCONSIN:  Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)

WYOMING:  Shane (1953)


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  1. I can’t really argue with these, although I remember seeing The Baron of Arizona with my parents when I was a kid and being bored out of my mind.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    New York City, hello?

    Tsxi Driver
    The Taking of Pelham 123
    Dog Day Afternoon
    The Warriors
    Fort Apache, The Bronx
    And they left out King Kong!

  3. Bill–You should check out THE BARON OF ARIZONA now that you’re older. The plot is outrageous, but TRUE.

    Jeff–I considered every one of those films for my list (including the original of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, not the remake), and they’re all good representations of NYC movies, but I felt the ones I picked were slightly better. And I considered GANGS OF NEW YORK, which also very nearly made the cut, virtually on the strength of the final scene all by itself.

  4. keith brodkorb

    oregon, forgot One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest possibly the best movie ever.

  5. Jeff Meyerson

    French Connection?

    My wife votes for When Harry Met Sally. ..

  6. gary blowman

    i can not lie

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