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Great Movies about the South, with Trailers and Videos

Updated on August 30, 2013

 I’m a proud Southerner, and I love movies about the South – not just movies set in the South – but actually about the South and Southerners. All the movies mentioned give a glimpse of real-life Southern traditions, customs, and characters. I include Gone with the Wind, even though parts of it totally disregard harsh realities. It does, however, offer viewers the mindset of many antebellum plantation owners and their spoiled wives.

Most of these movies include a quirky character or two. If you don’t believe such folks still exist in the South, come on down! I’ll introduce you to a few!

 

A typical plantation house.
A typical plantation house.
A Southern bayou.
A Southern bayou.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

 About: Georgia

Of course, this movie just has to be included! It gives an ideal portrayal of life among the Southern aristocracy before the war shattered the dream. Of course, the brutality of slavery is totally glossed over. On Tara and the surrounding plantations, everyone is happy, well fed, and well treated.

I do think that the horrors of war are portrayed well, along with the South’s downfall. And the cast is stellar! Who can ever forget Clark Gable as the dashing Rhett Butler, or Vivien Leigh as the irrepressible Scarlett, or Hattie McDaniel as the charming Mammy?

This film is such an ingrained part of Americana, everyone needs to see it!

Themes: love, loss, courage, honor, war, and determination.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

 About: Alabama and Georgia

This is a frame story – a story within a story. The present-day plot is about a middle-aged woman who is struggling to find herself. When she befriends an elderly lady in a nursing home, the older tale of two best friends and a mysterious murder emerges.

The wonderful, likeable characters are played brilliantly by Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Cicely Tyson.

Themes: friendship, racial equality, self discovery, and love.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

 About: Alabama

This is the tale of two motherless children growing up during the depression. When their father, a small town lawyer, defends a black man for a crime he didn’t commit, the ugly underbelly of racism and bigotry is exposed. A realistic portrayal of life in the period is examined.

The cast is excellent and includes Gregory Peck. The movie marks the screen debuts of Robert Duvall, Alice Ghostley, and William Windom.

Themes: Rape, incest, integrity, racism, acceptance, and tolerance.

Steel Magnolias (1989)

 About: Louisiana

This film examines life in a small Southern town. It provides a roller coaster ride of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears. The characters are quirky yet believable, and they’re all very likeable.

The all star cast includes Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts, Olympia Dukakis, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, and Dylan McDermott.

Themes: death, friendship, love, and the circle of life.

 

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

 About: Georgia

This is a great movie about a well-to-do Jewish widow living in an Atlanta suburb. When she can no longer drive safely, her son hires a driver for her – a black man. The old lady gradually learns to accept and eventually to care deeply for him as a person and as her best friend.

The film stars Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Dan Aykroyd, Patti LuPone, and Esther Rolle.

Themes: aging, tolerance, racism, and friendship.

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

 About: Georgia

This is one of my all-time favorite movies! Set in Savannah, it has wonderful scenes of the city squares and the historic old homes. The South, in all her wonderful eccentricities, is accurately displayed. The plot is loosely based on a true story. If you ever plan a trip to Savannah, please watch this movie first! You'll want to visit some of the sites from the film.

I’m a big Kevin Spacey fan, and I think this is his best role. Great performances are also made by John Cusack, Jude Law, Irma P. Hall, Jack Thompson, Alison Eastwood, and Lady Chablis.

Themes: murder, homosexuality, the supernatural, friendship, betrayal, and tolerance.

Cross Creek (1983)

 About: Florida

This is based on the true story of author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who leaves her high-society life to live in rural Florida in an effort to find herself. In the movie, we meet the young girl who was the inspiration for Rawlings’ most famous novel, The Yearling. The scenery in the film is wonderful – a part of Florida many have never witnessed.

The cast includes Mary Steenburgen, Rip Torn, Peter Coyote, Alfre Woodard, Dana Hill, and Joanna Miles.

Themes: self discovery, struggle, determination, friendship, love, and acceptance.

The Great Santini (1979)

 About: South Carolina

This movie is based on Pat Conroy’s wonderful novel. It tells the story of the Meechum family, living in coastal South Carolina. The father is a hard-nosed marine who rules his family with an iron fist. When Ben, the teenage son, befriends a mentally-challenged black youth, violence erupts.

The movie stars Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O’ Keefe, Stan Shaw, and David Keith.

Themes: rigidity, bigotry, revenge, friendship, tolerance, and family relationships.

Foxfire (1987)

 About: Georgia

This is based on the Foxfire books. The movie tells the story of a widow living deep in the Georgia mountains. Her son urges her to move to a safer location, and developers want her to sell her land so that they can turn it into a tourist attraction. The scenery is breathtaking!

After I saw this film, I was ready to sell everything I owned and buy a cabin in the mountains. When I got to work the next morning after the movie had been aired on TV, I was surprised to find that many of my colleagues had the same notion!

Great performances by Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and John Denver.

Themes: love, loss, home, greed, self reliance, and family relationships.

Eve’s Bayou (1997)

About: Louisiana

This story is about a beloved small-town black doctor and his family, living in the South of the 1960s. this is a great movie, and I’ve always been amazed that it wasn’t a huge hit. It has everything – love, lust, voodoo, passion, great characters, and a fascinating plot.

The cast is also exceptional: Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good, Jake Smollett, and Diahann Carroll. Watch the trailer, then watch the movie. You'll be glad you did!

Themes: Love, infidelity, the supernatural, trust, and family relationships.

Texasville (1990)

 About: Texas

This is based on the novel by Larry McMurtry and is basically a sequel to The Last Picture Show. Now the characters are middle aged, and Duane is deeply in debt and facing a mid-life crisis, especially when his high school heart throb returns to town. Although the action is set in Texas, it could just as easily take place in any small Southern town.

Jeff Bridges, Annie Potts, Cybill Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Timothy Bottoms, and Cloris Leachman star in this off-the-wall yet realistic movie.

Themes: infidelity, struggle, loss, love, and family relationships.

 

 

 

 

 

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    • amandajoyshapiro profile image

      amandajoyshapiro 4 years ago

      Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Steel Magnolias are beautifully rich films. I will look into some of the others on the list. I wrote a hub on the very southern "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte," you might be interested to read. It stars Bette Davis and has a brilliant ending!

    • profile image

      Sincl 4 years ago

      What about Cold Mountain? Wasn't this story written by a southerner and about the south during the Civil War?

    • profile image

      Dna 4 years ago

      The Man in the Moon is a lovely little film often overlooked, takes place in rural Louisiana.

    • profile image

      Gordon 6 years ago

      A Streetcar Named Desire!!!!!!! Must be added to the list above

    • profile image

      dona campbell 6 years ago

      what about In the Heat of the Night? Great movie and excellent t.v. show.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Burton, I can't believe I overlooked Deliverance! Great film and book! Thanks!

    • profile image

      BurtonH 6 years ago

      good picks, what do you think about deliverance? also a time to kill is pretty good one as well if you haven't seen it its damn good

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Esatchel, with Garden, the movie is actually better than the book, which is rare.

    • esatchel profile image

      PDGreenwell 6 years ago from Kentucky

      I think the only one I haven't seen is "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". I read the book but missed the film, an oversight. Will have to check it out.

      As far as quirky characters, that the most wonderful, real part of being Southern. I fear we will lose that as people go the way of the newscasters - acting all Northern and all! :^P

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I love that movie! I didn't even think about it! Thanks, Rae. I'll have to see where it took place - I can't remember.

    • raemay38 profile image

      raemay38 7 years ago from Miami, FL

      I'm surprised you did not add a comedy called O'Brother where art thou" with George Clooney as one of main stars in film. great southern movie. If you have not seen it rent it. Maybe not southern actors in it but based in South in 1930's. Really funny a must rent comedy.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Good picks you have there, Johnny! I love your two, also!

    • johnnyco12 profile image

      johnnyco12 7 years ago from Pascagoula, Ms

      Fried green tomatoes, and driving Miss Daisey are two of my favorite movies! Actuall they are in the top four Movies I love.

      1.It's a wonderful life

      2. Where the heart is

      3. Fried green tomatoes

      4. Driving Miss Daisey

      Great hub looking forward to more and oh btw I am compiling all your recipe hubs into my own personal Holly cookbook! (just for my own personal use of course.)

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, LAdyon the mirror! It's a wonderful film!

      Hi, Mpurcell. GWTW is a classic! Thanks for the comment.

    • mpurcell10 profile image

      mpurcell10 7 years ago from Arkansas

      I love Gone With The Wind. A favorite forever. You have great taste in movies.

    • ladyonthemirror profile image

      ladyonthemirror 7 years ago from Indonesia

      I love the scenery in the steal Magnolia

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      We are definitely a bunch of characters! Thanks for reading!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Great selection, habee, and I loved to read all these stories about the South. I think the South has more characteristic and feeling about it. I hope said this correctly. Thank you for your lovely hub.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I've been to the place Foxfire was filled many times, and it's gorgeous, Zsuzsy! Never been to BC, but I'm sure it's beautiful.

      Ethel, you need to see 'em all! thanks for reading!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Great choice. I have not seen the more recent films included here but love the older classic ones

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Foxfire is one of my fave movies and your right it does make one feel of wanting to move to a remote location...Although my choice would be the mountains of British Columbia.

      I have not seen Eve's Bayou and I'm not sure about Texasville either will look for them though.

      Love the hub

      regards Zsuzsy

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Pop. I bet a lot of folks haven't seen Eve's Bayou - it's outstanding!

      PC, thanks for visiting!

    • profile image

      pconline 7 years ago

      sweet hubs and nice contents. keep it up!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Great hub, Habee, about some really outstanding movies. I have seen most of them and they are marvelous.