50 American films, 50 states: One iconic movie for each state

In celebration of the big, bold USA, we take a trip through all 50 states via 50 indelible American films.

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Massachusetts: The Fighter (2010)

Never mind the blue bloods: David O. Russell’s story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward’s grab for the brass ring gives us a working-class Lowell community that’s pugnacious, vivacious and fiercely loyal to its own. In this Massachusetts microcosmos, everyone is a fighter.—David Fear


 Watch this classic American film set in Massachusetts now at Amazon Instant Video

Michigan: Blue Collar (1978)

This salty comedy about three Detroit auto-industry workers doubles as a tribute to every Rust Belt grunt who ever tried to put food on the table—and as a salute to the state that got American rubber on the road for decades.—David Fear



 Watch this classic American film set in Michigan now at Amazon Instant Video

Minnesota: Purple Rain (1984)

With his loosely autobiographical cult musical, pop star Prince had us wanting to purify ourselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Numerous Minnesota landmarks appear, most notably the legendary First Avenue nightclub, where our prancing hero brings his many adoring doves to tears.—Keith Uhlich


 Watch this classic American film set in Minnesota now at Amazon Instant Video

Mississippi: In the Heat of the Night (1967)

The town is fictional, but this Oscar-winning thriller about a white police chief and an African-American detective channels a very real Mississippi—one racked with hot temperatures, racial tensions and uneasy acceptance of the era’s tides of change.—David Fear



 Watch this classic American film set in Mississippi now at Amazon Instant Video

Missouri: Waiting for Guffman (1997)

Christopher Guest’s faux documentary about Blaine, MO (“stool capital of the United States”), and a community-theater troupe with delusions of Broadway grandeur beautifully captures small-town American eccentricity, always with a gentle wink.—Keith Uhlich



 Watch this classic American film set in Missouri now at Amazon Instant Video

Montana: A River Runs Through It (1992)

Watch virtually any scene from Robert Redford’s fly-fishing family drama and you’ll get a sense of Montana’s majestic landscape; every time Brad Pitt casts his line into the Blackfoot River, you realize why they call it Big Sky country.—David Fear



 Watch this classic American film set in Montana now at Amazon Instant Video

Nebraska: Election (1999)

This pointed satire about a high-school student election is one of Alexander Payne’s finest satirical portraits of his home state, unearthing in the Nebraska suburbs a microcosmic portrait of American politics and all its wheelings and dealings.—Keith Uhlich



 Watch this classic American film set in Nebraska now at Amazon Instant Video

Nevada: Melvin and Howard (1980)

Las Vegas and its barren outskirts provide the mythic meeting place for billionaire mogul Howard Hughes (Jason Robards) and service-station owner Melvin Dummar (Paul Le Mat). Melvin spends the rest of Jonathan Demme’s delightfully quirky comedy trying to prove the encounter took place; the arid Nevada desert haunts the film like a half-remembered dreamscape.—Keith Uhlich


 Watch this classic American film set in Nevada now at Amazon Instant Video

New Hampshire: To Die For (1995)

New Hampshire, with its quiet suburbs and picture-perfect scenery, is the setting for Gus Van Sant’s stone-cold black comedy about a career-obsessed woman (Nicole Kidman) who murderously manipulates her way up the ranks of a local cable station.—Keith Uhlich



 Buy this classic American film set in New Hampshire on Amazon

New Jersey: Clerks (1994)

A strong contender for the scrappiest state in the union, “Dirty Jersey” gets the eloquently foulmouthed comedy it deserves in Kevin Smith’s indie classic about counter jockeys. They tell it like it is—in the funny, frank way you associate with the Garden State.—David Fear



 Watch this classic American film set in New Jersey now at Amazon Instant Video

See iconic American films: New Mexico to South Carolina


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