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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South Dakota: North by Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful suspense thriller follows Cary Grant’s innocent-man-on-the-run through multiple states. But all roads lead to a monumentally cliff-hanging finale at Mount Rushmore—and an iconic Hitchcockian valentine to South Dakota.—Keith Uhlich

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Tennessee: Nashville (1975)

Arguably the finest American movie of the 1970s, Robert Altman’s sprawling masterpiece takes in the entirety of Music City, from its local singing legends to its fluky aspiring artists—and all freaks and fans in between. If you know only the (unrelated) TV psychodrama, you’ve got some woodshedding ahead of you.—Joshua Rothkopf

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Texas: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

We’ve tasted the barbecue, and it’s you: Tobe Hooper’s brutally effective slasher about a road-tripping group of teens who run afoul of a cannibalistic backwoods family makes the desolate landscapes and sweltering summer heat of the Lone Star State seem relentlessly nightmarish. Inside or out, there’s no escape from the horror.—Keith Uhlich

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Utah: 127 Hours (2010)

James Franco’s hiker is stuck between a rock and a hard place (literally) for most of this true-story survival tale. But Danny Boyle’s film still captures Utah’s Canyonlands National Park in all its rugged glory, and gives viewers a sense of the natural beauty that characterizes our 45th state.—David Fear

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Vermont: The Trouble with Harry (1955)

A dead body appears in the woods outside a Vermont hamlet. Whodunit? Alfred Hitchcock’s mild-mannered murder mystery captures the plush beauty of the Green Mountain State—even though production began so late in the season, they had to glue their own foliage to the trees.—Keith Uhlich

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

Virginia: The New World (2005)

Jamestown, VA, was the first permanent English colony in the Americas. Terrence Malick’s lyrical exploration of the settlement’s history—notably the relationship between explorer John Smith and Indian princess Pocahontas—beautifully re-creates the gorgeous, rough-hewn locale.—Keith Uhlich

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Washington: Singles (1992)

Cameron Crowe’s friends-in-their-twenties drama serves nicely as a time capsule of Seattle’s grunge scene, a moment when the world’s attention swiveled to flannel shirts and bruised, rainy emotions. Watch closely and you’ll catch cameos by members of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.—Joshua Rothkopf

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West Virginia: Matewan (1987)

The area’s mountainous terrain and the tenacious people who work it are beautifully represented in John Sayles’s re-creation of the 1920 coal miners’ strike that scarred the state. Sooty laborers, social activists and manic preachers choose their sides in a landscape that seems both craggy and nurturing.—David Fear

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Wisconsin: Come and Get It (1936)

The ultimate logging psychodrama comes from an esteemed Edna Ferber novel and features brawny men competing for the comely attentions of saloon singer Lotta (Frances Farmer, one of Howard Hawks’s spunkiest female leads). A fortune is made over the course of a generation; an audience learns much about deforestation.—Joshua Rothkopf

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Wyoming: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

You don’t have to be a love-struck cowboy to swoon over the gorgeous scenery in Ang Lee’s romantic tragedy. The high plains, rocky mountains and rushing rivers that form the backdrop for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s trysts will make you fall for the territory’s wide-open spaces.—David Fear

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

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