Southern Movies, since 2013

Over more than a century, mainstream movies have offered portrayals of the American South that range from the darkness of 1918’s Birth of a Nation to the fluffiness of 2002’s Sweet Home Alabama. Many Americans who have never visited the South (and know little to nothing about it) take their understanding of our complicated culture not from history books by Shelby Foote or C. Vann Woodward, but from the images, characters, and story lines in popular films, like Gone with the Wind, Forrest GumpThe Help, and Fried Green Tomatoes. (Personally, I don’t know anybody who ever pooped in a chocolate pie or barbecued an abusive husband.) Whether they are set in the South, feature Southern characters, or both, movies feed and fuel how Americans view and treat the South, and also perpetuate and protect misinterpretations. Below is a list of Southern Movie posts by decade. Just click on the red titles to read the posts:

Introduction: Ten Films about the South, from March 2013

1930s

The Green Pastures (1936) • Way Down South (1939)

1940s

The Blood of Jesus (1941) • The Southerner (1945)

Go Down, Death! (1945) • Intruder in the Dust (1949)

1950s

Drums in the Deep South (1951) • Member of the Wedding (1952)

The Phenix City Story (1955) • Baby Doll (1956)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) • The Defiant Ones (1958)

Porgy and Bess (1959) • Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

1960s

The Children’s Hour (1961) • Gone are the Days! (1963)

Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) • Black Like Me (1964) •

Murder in Mississippi (1965) • The Black Klansman (1966)

Cool Hand Luke (1967) • In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Slaves (1969) • The Witchmaker (1969)

1970s

The Liberation of LB Jones (1970) • tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . (1970)

The Beguiled (1971) • Preacherman (1971)

Sounder (1972) • The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

Moon of the Wolf (1972) • Walking Tall (1973)

White Lightning (1973) • Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

The Klansman (1974) • Macon County Line (1974)

Hot Summer in Barefoot County (1974) Ode to Billy Joe (1976)

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976) • Eaten Alive (1976)

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) • Moonshine County Express (1977)

Greased Lightning (1977) • French Quarter (1978)

Norma Rae (1979) • Wise Blood (1979)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979, TV)

1980s

The Sky is Gray (1980) • Southern Comfort (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981, TV)

Six Pack (1982) • The Beast Within (1982)

Cross Creek (1983) • Ellie (1984)

The Color Purple (1985) • Down by Law (1986)

Angel Heart (1987) • Shy People (1987)

Long Walk Home (1988) • Steel Magnolias (1989) • Trapper County War (1989)

1990s

Voodoo Dawn (1991) • Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Paris Trout (1991) The Rainmaker (1997)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) • The Waterboy (1998)

2000s

The St. Francisville Experiment (2000) • Radio (2003)

2001 Maniacs (2005) • Skeleton Key (2005)

Black Snake Moan (2006) • Hatchet (2007)

2010s

The School in the Woods (2010) • The Dynamiter (2011)

Straw Dogs (2013) • Free State of Jones (2016)

Mud Bound (2017) •  Sophie and the Rising Sun (2017)

Just Mercy (2019)

Southern Movie Bonus posts:

A Spooky, Scary Southern Sampler, from October 2019

A Women’s History Month Sampler, from March 2020

Another Spooky, Scary Southern Sampler, Old School Edition, from October 2020

Another Spooky, Scary Southern Sampler, 21st century Edition, from October 2020

A Black History Month Sampler, from February 2021


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