50 States in 50 Movies - Mon. & Tues. in July
Summer is the perfect time for travel, and this year we want to make sure you get the best sights and sounds from a variety of destinations. If you're planning to travel to L.A. or New York this summer and want more TCM, then learn more about our TCM Bus Tour which takes its riders on an expert-guided excursion covering all things classic film. If traveling to Europe is more of your liking, then join TCM Destinations for an unforgettable journey around the rich, pristine beauty of Italy, where you and a group of movie fans will take a guided tour through some of the most cinematic locations on earth. Can't travel this year? Don't worry, FilmStruck has a range of films from 50 countries around the world showcasing awe-inspiring landscapes and stories from across the waters. Follow @FilmStruck on twitter to keep up with their travels.
If enjoying summer from the comfort of your own home is your preference, then this is a perfect time to travel vicariously through all regions of the U.S. with our programming! Join TCM at primetime Mondays and Tuesdays in July for a taste of America, as we journey through all 50 states in a selection of films celebrating the purple mountain majesties, rolling hills, cornfields, busy cities and all the other glories of our unique and beautiful country.
SCENIC NEW ENGLAND starts our journey on an island off of the dramatic coastline of Maine in A Summer Place (1959). For this story, following of two teenagers (Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue) involved in a forbidden romance that begins on a beach, audiences were convinced that the love affair was taking place in New England. However, actual locations including Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove were all on the wrong coast- in California!
For High Society (1956), a musicalized version of 1940's The Philadelphia Story, the locale is changed to Newport, Rhode Island. In this case, location filming was done in the real city (although interior scenes were shot on the MGM lot back in California), including the opening scenic flyover shots of Newport's Gilded Age mansions. Exteriors showing the mansion, where Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra vie for the attention of Grace Kelly, were shot at Clarendon Court on Bellevue Avenue in Newport. It later was the home of Claus von Bulow, the millionaire businessman cleared of the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny.
BIG CITY BUSTLIN' features the imaginatively filmed New York City locales of the original King Kong (1933). Ernest B. Schoedsack, one of the film's directors, took his crew to New York for establishing shots in the city's harbor and views from the Empire State Building for backgrounds in the final sequence. For the celebrated attack of the giant ape by fighter planes, architectural plans from the building's owners were used in creating a studio mock-up of the top of the Art Deco skyscraper.
The Philadelphia Story (1940) was filmed entirely on MGM soundstages although an actual mansion in Pennsylvania, the Androssan Estate, inspired the setting of the original play by Philip Barry. Barry modeled Katharine Hepburn's character on real-life Philadelphia socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott, and the city's influence is definitely felt in the film even though Hepburn and costars Cary Grant and James Stewart stayed home in Hollywood.
JOURNEY TO THE SOUTHLAND takes us through various locations South of the Mason-Dixon Line, including the Civil War-era Commonwealth of Virginia in the family drama Shenandoah (1965). James Stewart stars as the patriarch of a family torn apart by the war. The film's southern atmosphere is beautifully captured, though once again things are not always what they seem in the movies; Shenandoah had no filming in Virginia but was shot on locations in Oregon and California.
Conrack (1974) was inspired by true-life experiences of South Carolina-born author Pat Conroy, who spent time as a teacher on his state's Daufuskie Island, the preserved home of members of the Gullah culture. Jon Voight plays the teacher called "Conrack" by his students and the island is renamed "Yamacraw" in the film. To make matters even more confusing, actual filming locations were in Georgia, including the city of Brunswick and St. Simons Island. Conrack is a TCM premiere.
SOUTHERN CHARM is conveyed by such films as John Huston's Key Largo (1948), the final film pairing of husband-and-wife team, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Only the film's establishing shots were filmed in the Florida Keys, with the rest being shot at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, CA. This reportedly was because studio head Jack Warner had been annoyed by the extra expense of Huston shooting 1948's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre on location in Arizona and Mexico.
Wise Blood (1979) is Huston's version of Georgia-born Flannery O'Connor's first novel, published in 1952. Brad Dourif plays Hazel Motes, a returning WWII veteran who endeavors to turn his war disillusionment and lack of faith into an anti-religious "ministry" in an unnamed Southern town (most of the film was shot in and around Macon, Georgia).
INTO THE MIDWEST we go with Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959), which earns its pungent Michigan flavor legitimately since this crime/courtroom drama was shot entirely on location in the state. Sam Leavitt's Oscar®-nominated black-and-white cinematography finds maximum atmosphere in such Michigan locations as Ishpeming, Marquette and Big Bay. James Stewart heads the outstanding ensemble alongside Lee Remick, George C. Scott and Ben Gazzara.
Another film with an authentic Midwestern setting is Some Came Running (1958), an adaptation of the James Jones book directed by Vincente Minnelli. The setting is the fictional small town of Parkman, IN and Minnelli took his cast and crew to the actual town of Madison in the same state for most of the filming. (A few scenes were shot in neighboring Kentucky.) Stories abound about the interaction during filming between Madison townsfolk and such colorful cast members as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.
DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI is a category that includes A Face in the Crowd (1957), the story of Arkansas entertainer Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a folksy crowd-pleaser who becomes a malignant presence in politics. Most of the movie's interiors were shot in New York, but there was extensive location shooting in Arkansas towns Paragould and Piggott. Director Elia Kazan, an expert at atmosphere, captures the ambience vividly and draws superlative performances from Griffith, Patricia Neal, Lee Remick and Walter Matthau.
All the King's Men (1949) also concerns Southern politics with its story of a local politician (Broderick Crawford) who rises to become governor of his state. The film, directed by Robert Rossen, is adapted from the novel by Robert Penn Warren, with a central character inspired by Louisiana governor/senator Huey Long. The movie was shot far away from Louisiana, on such California locations as Suisun, Fairfield, Stockton and the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. It won three Oscars® for Best Picture, Actor (Crawford) and Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge).
THE GREAT WIDE OPEN was never more expansively portrayed than in George Stevens' Giant (1956), an epic rendering of Edna Ferber's novel about the great state of Texas. The Oscar®-winning Stevens, along with his band of technicians and stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, had two months of location shooting near Marfa, TX. Interiors were filmed at Warner Bros. in Burbank, CA, with additional location work in other Texas locations and Charlottesville, VA.
In contrast to Giant and its picturesque treatment of Texas, In Cold Blood (1967) makes the plains of Kansas seem barren and forbidding. The film is based on Truman Capote's non-fiction novel about the murder of a family in Holcomb, KS. In addition to Holcomb, filming locations in the state included Garden City, Emporia, Olathe, Edgerton and Kansas City. Conrad L. Hall earned an Oscar® nomination for his expressive black-and-white cinematography.
MANIFEST DESTINY! was a popular slogan of the 19th century used by those believing that the United States was destined to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean. The destiny of the characters played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek in Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973) are probably not what they had in mind! The stars play violent young lovers on a killing spree that begins in South Dakota and progresses through the badlands of Montana to Saskatchewan, Canada. The film, however, was shot entirely in Colorado.
Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It (1992), based on Norman Maclean's semi-autobiographical story of growing up in early 20th-century Montana, amounts to a cinematic ode to that beautiful state. Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer play the brothers who consider fly-fishing a way of life. The movie was shot in Montana locations including Livingston and Bozeman, with some additional filming in Wyoming. Philippe Rousselot won an Oscar® for his exquisite color cinematography.
INTO THE DESERT includes Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), in which Ellen Burstyn's character travels with her small son across the American Southwest from New Mexico to Arizona in search of a better life. The film was shot in Arizona--largely in Tucson, with additional filming in Amado and Saguaro National Park.
Ocean's 11 (1960) showcases Las Vegas, NV, the Mecca for gamblers and risk-seekers which sparkles in the unlikely setting of the Mojave Desert. Frank Sinatra and his "Rat Pack" buddies star in this romp about a team of hipsters attempting to rob five casinos simultaneously. Interiors for the comedy were shot in California, but location shooting spotlights such Vegas landmarks as the Riviera, Sands, Desert Inn and Flamingo hotel/casinos.
THE GOLDEN COAST is the setting for It Happened at the World's Fair (1963), an Elvis Presley musical comedy filmed in Seattle, WA during the 1962 event. Elvis plays a crop-duster pilot who hitchhikes to the World's Fair, where he befriends a little girl and sings 10 songs including, suitably, "Take Me to the Fair." Familiar sights include the Seattle Center Monorail, the Space Needle and Mount Rainier looming in the background.
A coastal adventure of a completely different type is From Here to Eternity (1953), set at the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, during 1941--the year of the devastating air strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. In this film version of the James Jones novel, Fred Zinnemann directs a powerful cast including Oscar® nominees Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr; and winners Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed. Filming locations on Oahu, Hawaii, included Honolulu, Diamond Head and the real Schofield Barracks, where much of the story's action takes place. The infamous "love-in-the-surf" scene between Lancaster and Kerr was also shot on Oahu at Halona Cove.
Don't miss these and 30 other films exploring the stunning landscapes of America's 50 states, plus a bonus movie set in Washington, D.C.- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), starring James Stewart.
by Roger Fristoe