From "Walk the Line" to "Hustle and Flow," Tennessee's natural beauty, vibrant cities, and quaint rural areas have been the backdrop for an amazing variety of films and television shows. Click here for a little Tennessee movie trivia.
Tennessee's beautiful scenery, culture, music and heritage have drawn filmmakers to the state for decades. The result is a catalog of Tennessee's diverse landscapes, bustling cities, and rural byways.
Memphis, with its sweeping backdrop of the Mississippi River, Beale Street, and a vital downtown, provides the setting for several novels of John Grisham, including The Client, The Firm, and The Rainmaker. Black Snake Moan, starring Chattanooga native Samuel L. Jackson, was filmed in the Memphis area, as was 21 Grams. Castaway, the harrowing tale of an isolated plane crash survivor, begins and ends in Memphis, the home of Federal Express, Tom Hanks' employer in the film. Academy Award winning Hustle and Flow is a uniquely Memphis film. Other films shot at least partly in Memphis include: the Johnny Cash/June Carter biopic Walk the Line, The People Versus Larry Flynt , Great Balls of Fire, and the quirky The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag. Memphis' musical heritage shows up in several documentaries, featuring Memphians Justin Timberlake and W.C. Handy, and U2's Rattle and Hum.
The eerie beauty of Reelfoot Lake State Park is an eye-catching location that appears in several films and nature documentaries. Filming of Raintree County, the 1956 Civil War story starring Elizabeth Taylor and Eva Marie Saint was interrupted by a terrible car crash that injured co-star Montgomery Clift. After nine weeks, Clift finished the film in spite of injuries that paralyzed the left side of his face and began his downward spiral toward an early death. The scenes of Clift shot before the accident are the only color images of him before the injury. Reelfoot is also the setting for a 1950s era film, Mystery Lake and the Tommy Lee Jones' film U.S. Marshalls.
Other beautiful Tennessee parks have played roles in several films. Blaze was partly shot in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Jungle Book, King Kong Lives and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers showcase Fall Creek Falls, and Rock Island State Park doubles as a South American jungle in The Specialist.
Nashville's music scene has brought several films to that city: Thing Called Love, Your Cheatin' Heart, Coal Miner's Daughter, Sweet Dreams, Songwriter, and, of course, Robert Altman's Nashville. The capital city drew political films to Tennessee as well: Wag the Dog, Running Mates and Marie. Marie marked the debut of two Tennessee movie headliners: future senator, presidential candidate and Law and Order star Fred Thompson, and the Tennessee State Penitentiary, which appeared in The Last Castle and The Green Mile, starring Tom Hanks and featuring the late character actor Michael Jeter, a Lawrenceburg native.
If scary movies and frightening characters are your thing, check out What Waits Below, filmed in Cumberland Caverns, The Evil Dead, set in a Morristown cabin, Bell Witch: The Movie, a story from Adams that was filmed in Sevierville, and At Close Range, Franklin. Sci-fi buffs can indulge in H.P. Lovecraft's frightening classic "The Colour out of Space," became The Curse, filmed in Tellico Plains. A not-so-scary, popular sci-fi film Starman was shot in Chattanooga.
Macho men are front and center in several Tennessee films. Real life Adamsville Sheriff Buford Pusser is the subject of the Walking Tall movies. Tom Cruise's racing story Days of Thunder took advantage of the Bristol Motor Speedway, and the baseball biopic Cobb was filmed in Chattanooga.
East Tennessee's hills, mountains, rivers and rural scenes are a favorite of filmmakers. Jane Fonda rode Dolly Parton's tour bus for two weeks researching her role in The Dollmaker, filmed in Sevier and Blount Counties. In Dreams, the upcoming That Evening Sun Go Down and the Christy television show were also filmed in Blount County. Hawkins and Sullivan Counties were locations for The River, starring Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson.
Knoxville finds plenty of film work, including a James Agee documentary and October Sky, also called Rocket Boys, with the Tennessee Theatre prominent and other scenes filmed in nearby Morgan and Campbell Counties. The quirky Box of Moonlight, with John Turturro and Sam Rockwell, was filmed in Knoxville and Maryville. And don't forget Johnny Knoxville himself, who sometimes films in the area.
Date: May 17, 2013 - May 18, 2013
Bloomin' Barbecue & Bluegrass Festival
Location: Sevierville, TN
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