Happy Birthday, America: Here Are 50 Films for 50 States
To mark America's 238th birthday, Yahoo Movies is re-publishing a gallery which originally ran last summer. It's a patriotic display of 50 great films — each set in a different state of the Union. Together they form an epic saga of triumph, tragedy, and comedy.
ALABAMA - To Kill a Mockingbird
This classic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel richly captures the joys and sorrows of growing up in the Depression-era South, and gives the screen one of its greatest and most noble father figures in Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch.
ALASKA - Insomnia
A smart and underrated thriller with great performances by Al Pacino and Robin Williams, Insomnia is also a great showcase for the natural beauty of Alaska and the mysteries of its long nights without darkness.
ARIZONA - Raising Arizona
The Coen Brothers prove their wit is as dry as the Arizona heat in this flick, loaded with chase scenes that all but outdo the old Road Runner cartoons.
ARKANSAS - Sling Blade
A perceptive, sometimes harrowing look at a simple man's struggle with violence and redemption, Billy Bob Thornton's breakthrough project made rich use of the deliberate rhythms and colorful characters in its Arkansas settings.
CALIFORNIA - American Graffiti
It all happened one night in Modesto, California, as a handful of teenagers sought adventure on the eve of the tumultuous '60s. American Graffiti remains a superb evocation of a time and a place.
COLORADO - The Shining
Jack Torrence's experiences suggest you wouldn't want to book a long-term stay at the Overlook Hotel. But the grand, forbidding beauty of the place and its mountainous surroundings — you know, before things got super scary — make it look like a great place to visit in season.
CONNECTICUT - Far From Heaven
Todd Haynes' homage to Douglas Sirk's classic '50s soap operas captures the rich beauty of the old-money suburbs of Connecticut, as well as the emotional turmoil lurking deep beneath the well-appointed surfaces.
DELAWARE - Fight Club
It's not mentioned in the movie, but a careful look at Tyler Durden's business card reveals his Paper Street compound is located in Wilmington, so Delaware gets some bragging rights for one of film history's wildest, most memorable cult movies.
FLORIDA - Magic Mike
Both a hilarious comedy and a subtle cautionary tale, Magic Mike makes Florida nightlife look like a memorable walk on the wild side. Being a male stripper in Tampa isn't always easy, but Channing Tatum makes it look like a whole lot of fun … for a little while.
GEORGIA - Gone With the Wind
One of Old Hollywood's grandest creations, Gone With the Wind, is also a love letter to life in Georgia before, during, and after the Civil War. Its outlook may be dated, but its sumptuous technicolor beauty is still fresh.
HAWAII - From Here to Eternity
This multiple Oscar-winning drama follows a handful of soldiers stationed in Hawaii just before Pearl Harbor changed their lives forever. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's late night swim did more for the concept of making out on the beach than any movie in history.
IDAHO - Napoleon Dynamite
Idaho may not be the trendiest locale in the nation, but Jon Heder (as Napoleon) proves that hipness and dance skills can make any place cool. Bonus: It also turns out Idaho is a great place to raise a llama!
ILLINOIS - The Blues Brothers
Full of manic comedy, great music, and incredible chase sequences, The Blues Brothers is also an excellent Chicago travelogue, capturing the warm, gritty vibe of the city from the downtown high-rises to the bustle of the Maxwell Street market.
INDIANA - Hoosiers
Folks in Indiana love their basketball. Naturally, it's hard to imagine this story of an underdog team reaching for glory working half as well set anywhere else. Hoosiers also replicates the tempos of small town life in the 1950s with loving accuracy.
IOWA - Field of Dreams
The appearance of a full-size baseball park in the middle of an Iowa cornfield proved to be an unexpectedly magical sight in a film that offered some high-minded philosophy and small-town heart to its Midwest setting.
KANSAS - Winchester '73
Set in the fabled frontier town of Dodge City, Winchester '73 follows a prized rifle as it travels from hand to hand, all while a wronged man is determined to find justice. Jimmy Stewart delivers a superb performance in this classic period Western.
KENTUCKY - Coal Miner's Daughter
Sissy Spacek earned an Oscar for her performance as country music icon Loretta Lynn. The film traces her journey from humble beginnings in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, to the stage of the Grand Ol' Opry.
LOUISIANA - Interview With the Vampire
The moody ambience of New Orleans after dark was brought to life from Anne Rice's novel to the big screen. For the record: Interview made vampires cool and sexy years before Twilight.
MAINE - The Shawshank Redemption
Stephen King, a proud son of Maine, wrote the story that inspired this moving tale of two men who find honor and decency while serving time in prison. A sleeper hit upon its first release, time and word of mouth turned it into a classic.
MARYLAND - Diner
The first of a handful of films writer and director Barry Levinson would set in his hometown of Baltimore, this satisfying comedy-drama follows six friends as they try to sort out their futures, figure out women, and cheer the Colts on to victory.
MASSACHUSETTS - The Town
Director and star Ben Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he didn't miss a trick in capturing the details of life in the crime-driven Boston neighborhood of Charlestown in this adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves.
MICHIGAN - Gran Torino
Clint Eastwood shot this film on location in Detroit, and his character's crotchety defiance is a good metaphor for the city: Despite age and decay, he's not going down without a fight, and for all his bark, he's fiercely loyal to those close to him.
MINNESOTA - Purple Rain
Released in the summer when Prince was battling Michael Jackson for ownership of the pop charts, Purple Rain offered a potent look at street life in Minneapolis, from the sweaty dance floor at First Avenue to the chilly waters of Lake Minnetonka.
MISSISSIPPI - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Tennessee Williams loved his tales of melodrama in the Deep South, and this drama of a Mississippi family vying for the favor of a dying patriarch is loaded with emotional intrigue and smoldering sexuality, especially when Elizabeth Taylor is on screen.
MISSOURI - Waiting for Guffman
Christopher Guest's mockumentary comedy is not only a hilarious satire of the foibles of community theater, but a witty portrait of the lives of a handful of dreamers in the small town of Blaine, Missouri — footstool capitol of the world!
MONTANA - A River Runs Through It
Robert Redford's story of two very different brothers who share a passion for fly-fishing makes rural Montana seem spectacular. The scenery is so picturesque one wonders if the state's tourism bureau had a hand in the film.
NEBRASKA - Election
Before the 2013 comedy-drama he named after his home state, Alexander Payne wrote and directed this hilarious and biting political satire set in a Nebraska town just big enough to have two sides of the tracks, but small enough for one high school teacher to unwittingly create a town scandal.
NEVADA - Ocean's Eleven
That rare example of a remake that surpasses the original in nearly every way, this caper could only take place in Las Vegas, and the sights and sounds of Sin City are just as vital as the film's star-studded cast.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - What About Bob
Frank Oz's comedy reveals just how much fun a guy like Bill Murray can have vacationing along the New Hampshire coastline. It also shows how little fun Richard Dreyfuss has looking after Bill (er, Bob), but it still looks like a great little summer town. Baby steps!
NEW JERSEY - Atlantic City
Burt Lancaster gave one of the best performances as a broken-down, small-time gangster who falls in with a beautiful woman with big dreams (Susan Sarandon). Atlantic City manages to make the gaming city look both gritty and glamorous.
NEW MEXICO - High Noon
Taut and intelligent, this landmark Western plays out in real time as a lawman (Gary Cooper at his best) is forced to defend a small frontier town in New Mexico from desperate gunmen, with little help from the citizenry.
NEW YORK - Manhattan
It's no secret that Woody Allen loves New York City, and this homage to his home town is a catalog of everything he liked about the place, from Elaine's and the Russian Tea Room to Bella Abzug and the carriage rides in Central Park.
NORTH CAROLINA - Bull Durham
An enthusiastic celebration of America's pastime, Bull Durham also shows its love for the quirks and customs of the game as played on the minor league level in Durham, North Carolina … which seems like a great place to be when you have special fans like Susan Sarandon.
NORTH DAKOTA - Fargo
Fargo, North Dakota, lent its name to one of the best and driest American comedies of the '90s, in which a pregnant cop successfully uncovers a kidnapping scheme. And if you don't let on that 95 percent of the movie actually takes place in Minnesota, we won't either.
OHIO - Heathers
A jet-black comedy that plays teen suicide and high school mean girls for laughs, Heathers is all the more outrageous for being set in suburban Sherwood, Ohio, where the young fashionistas and brooding rebels seem all the more out of step.
OKLAHOMA - The Outsiders
Francis Ford Coppola wasn't afraid to play this adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel on a broad emotional canvas, and the film's Tulsa, Oklahoma, locations are just as beautiful and rugged as the story demands — especially those glorious sunsets.
OREGON - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
This Oscar winning film was shot on location at the Oregon State Mental Hospital, with real patients cast in supporting roles. When it came time to shoot the fishing scene, the cast and crew decamped to the harbor in nearby Depoe Bay.
PENNSYLVANIA - Groundhog Day
Without Punxsutawney's favorite groundhog and his annual weather-predicting ritual, Bill Murray would have been deprived one of his finest roles. This imaginative comedy celebrates the minutia of small-town life, not to mention the Pennsylvania Polka.
RHODE ISLAND - Me, Myself, and Irene
In this comedy from Bobby and Peter Farrelly (two proud sons of Rhode Island), Jim Carrey plays one of the finest Rhode Island State Troopers to ever wear the uniform — at least until his other personality takes over.
SOUTH CAROLINA - Glory
The moving story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African-American combat unit to fight in the Civil War, Glory follows the troops as they prove their mettle during decisive battles in James Island and Charleston Harbor.
SOUTH DAKOTA - North by Northwest
While Alfred Hitchcock's classic action-adventure film takes hero Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) on a wild goose chase across the country, the most famous scene finds him scrambling across the faces of Mount Rushmore. Be thankful Hitchcock didn't follow through on his idea of having a hobo living in Abe Lincoln's nose!
TENNESSEE - Nashville
One of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1970s, Robert Altman's study of 24 characters over a few days in Music City used Nashville's nightspots, recording studios, and concert venues as a stage for a study of a nation struggling with post-Watergate malaise.
TEXAS - Giant
George Stevens's epic saga is as big as the Lone Star State itself, and uses its vast plains as a key visual motif. The state's heritage in ranching and oil production is also an important part of this tale of love, wealth, and class in changing times.
UTAH - 127 Hours
Based on the true story of a hiker and canyoneer who faced the greatest challenge of his life when he was trapped by a falling boulder, 127 Hours captures the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Moab's Blue John Canyon, as well as the dangers that lurk beneath its surface.
VERMONT - Dead Poets Society
Has any other film so thoroughly dismantled the suffocation of the elite, conservative New England prep school? Though the Vermont setting is a lovely seasonal backdrop for the students's artistic metamorphoses, it does nothing to ease the angst of the film's much darker second half. Oh captain, my captain.
VIRGINIA - Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly's cult favorite about a troubled young man and the overgrown bunny that haunts him is set in Middlesex, Virginia. The writer-director is said to have drawn his inspiration from his childhood in Midlothian, a town not far from Richmond.
WASHINGTON - Singles
Cameron Crowe shot this romantic comedy drama in Seattle just as the city's music scene was first gaining nationwide attention, and he happily ended up with a movie fueled by grunge just as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were climbing the charts. (Members of both bands play bit parts in the movie.)
WEST VIRGINIA - We Are Marshall
Based on the true story of football coach Jack Lengyel, who rebuilt the Marshall University football team months after a disastrous plane crash took the lives of 42 players and coaching staff, this film celebrates not just the tenacity of Lengyel and his team, but also the heartfelt support of the people of West Virginia during a time of tragedy.
WISCONSIN - Lars and the Real Girl
The story of a man in love with a realistic sex doll could easily be played for sleazy laughs, but Lars and the Real Girl manages to be warm and moving, especially as the people of a small Wisconsin farming community come together to help the film's socially awkward protagonist.
WYOMING - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
One of the best and funniest westerns ever made, Butch Cassidy follows two outlaws working their trade just as the Wild West is settling down. The beauty of the Wyoming scenery is a powerful contrast to the movie's grubby final sequences in Bolivia.
Photo credit: Everett (all images)