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Top Rated Films Shot in Each US State

top rated films us state map

It is often mistakenly believed that filming “on location” takes place in the actual location in which its story is set, but this is not necessarily the case.

So we searched the IMDB for films whose stories match to their filming location. Most of the movies were filmed across many states but we picked our favorites for each state.


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Goodbye Lauren Bacall – We Love You – 2014 Day in American History


From The History Channel

On this day in 2014, actress Lauren Bacall, who shot to fame in her debut film, 1944’s “To Have and Have Not,” in which she appeared opposite Humphrey Bogart, with whom she would have a legendary romance, dies at her New York City home at age 89. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, the smoky-voiced Bacall made more than 40 films, including “The Big Sleep,” (1946) “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953) and “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996).

Born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in the Bronx, New York, she began using the last name Bacal, part of her mother’s maiden name, after her parents divorced when she was young. (While breaking into acting, she added a second “l” to her last name, and Howard Hawks, who directed Bacall’s big-screen debut, dubbed her Lauren). After graduating from high school in Manhattan in 1940, she studied acting but quit after a year because she could no longer afford the tuition. She went on to work as an usher in Broadway theaters and also started modeling. Her cover photo for Harper’s Bazaar magazine eventually came to the attention of Hawks, who cast her in his wartime drama “To Have and Have Not.” During the making of the film—in which Bacall famously utters the line: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow”—she and the then-married Bogart, who was more than twice her age and already the star of such films as “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca,” began an affair.

Married in 1945, Bogart and Bacall became one of Hollywood’s iconic couples and made three more films together, “The Big Sleep,” “Dark Passage” (1947) and “Key Largo” (1948). Bacall also appeared in such movies as “Young Man with a Horn” (1950) with Kirk Douglas, “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable and “Designing Woman” (1957) with Gregory Peck. Her marriage to Bogart, which produced two children, ended when the actor died of cancer in 1957 at age 57. After a brief romance with Frank Sinatra, Bacall wed actor Jason Robards in 1961. The pair, who had a son together, divorced in 1969.

Among Bacall’s other screen credits are “Harper” (1966) with Paul Newman, “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “Misery” (1990) and “The Mirror Has Two Faces” with Barbra Streisand. For her role in the latter film, Bacall earned her lone Academy Award nomination, in the best supporting actress category. (In 2009, she received an honorary Oscar.) Bacall also appeared in a number of theatrical productions and won best actress Tony awards for 1970’s “Applause” and 1981’s “Woman of the Year.”

Despite her achievements, Bacall realized the public likely would always associate her with Bogart. As she said in a 1999 Newsday interview: “I’ll never get away from him. I accept that. He was the emotional love of my life, but I think I’ve accomplished quite a bit on my own.”

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“American Graffiti” released- 1973 Day in History


From This History Channel

On this day in 1973, “American Graffiti,” a nostalgic coming-of-age tale set on the streets and steeped in the car-centric culture of suburban California, is released in theaters across the United States. The movie went on to become a sleeper hit.

“American Graffiti” was the second full-length feature film directed by George Lucas, who would later become best known for the blockbuster hit “Star Wars” (1977) and its sequels. Set in 1962, “American Graffiti” follows a group of teenage friends who meet in the parking lot of a local drive-in restaurant on the last night before two of them (played by Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard) plan to leave town to go to college. They spend much of the night cruising the streets of their hometown of Modesto, California (where Lucas himself grew up and developed an early passion for automobiles and car racing), in cars ranging from a yellow “deuce coupe” (a slang term for the 1932 Ford Model B  coupe) to a 1958 Chevy Impala, while some of the film’s most memorable scenes feature a white 1955 Ford Thunderbird driven by a mysterious blonde.

Released in 1973–the same year in which an embargo declared by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) sparked an international oil crisis–“American Graffiti” was the first in a series of movies and television shows that evoked nostalgia for the more carefree days of the 1950s and early ’60s and the iconic cars that defined the era. The oil crisis of 1973 would usher in an era of hard times for the American automobile industry, including a surge in sales of foreign-made cars, but many Americans took comfort in the glamorous image of driving–or “cruising”–that “American Graffiti”celebrated.

American Graffiti Movie Poster

The 1970s saw a boom in classic-car restoration, even as more and more Americans were driving Japanese imports. The era also saw an increasing number of “lowriders”–or classic cars or trucks with suspensions that had been modified so that they rode as low to the ground as possible. According to an Associated Press article about a 2008 exhibition at L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum called “La Vida Lowrider,” lowriding as a pastime spread outwards from Hispanic neighborhoods in the southwestern United States in the 1970s, and later caught on with enthusiasts as far away as Europe and Asia. This boom in the 1970s was triggered largely by movies such as “American Graffiti,” “Corvette Summer”(1978) and “Boulevard Nights” (1979) and TV shows like “Chico and the Man” (1974-78). In 1975, the band War scored a hit with their single “Low Rider,” which channeled the same cool, cruising suburban culture that made “American Graffiti” a hit.

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15 American Themed Movies Streaming in August

Selected from Complex

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Director: John Hughes
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara

No ’80s film could inspire you to live out your youth to its extreme more than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s the perfect amalgam of everything you fantasized about while stuck in homeroom. If a joy ride in a Ferrari with your best friend and beautiful girlfriend wasn’t already a mind-blowing idea to you, toss in a downtown parade where you perform “Twist and Shout,” a free lunch at a fancy restaurant, and the image of your crusty, porn stanched principal getting chewed out by your dog. Heaven was never represented so accurately in the movies.

Fort Bliss (2014)

Director: Claudia Myers
Stars: Michelle Monaghan, Pablo Schrieber, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Ron Livingston

To uncover the sad ironies outlined by the military drama Fort Bliss, look no further than its title. The film tells the tale of an army medic looking to reconnect with her son following a tour in Afghanistan. Michelle Monaghan is truly excellent in her portrayal of a woman scarred by war, but determined to make up for lost time. Shot largely on location at the actual Fort Bliss, there’s a realism and intimacy to the film that few films about recent wars have achieved. Though the scope of the story is small, Claudia Myers’ film is a powerful reminder of how the tragedies of war don’t end when a soldier’s boots are back on American soil.

Nebraska (2013)

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk, Mary Louise Wilson

Many have written Nebraska off as a minor work from Alexander Payne, the director who has already visited the titular state in Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt. The story may be low-key, just like its characters, but Payne’s latest road trip fires on all cylinders.

In a pitch-perfect performance, Bruce Dern stars as Woody, a craggy old man possibly suffering from dementia who believes he won a million dollars because his junk mail says so. As Woody insists upon his middle-aged son (Will Forte) to drive him to Nebraska to collect his imaginary winnings, Payne paints a portrait of the Midwest and its citizens as a faded memory, left to grow old like seniors in a retirement home and find happiness within their own devices.

Payne strikes the perfect balance between his trademark wry humor and more recent sensitive side (as seen in The Descendants). He may invite us to laugh at these country folk but his fondness and empathy for them has never been so deeply felt.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Image via Netflix

Director: Liz Garbus

​2015 is a big year for music documentaries, and just weeks before the Amy Winehouse doc, Amy, arrives, Netflix put out their own deep-dive of a female legend: the story of Nina Simone. What Happened, Miss Simone? is a hard look at the singer and civil rights activist known as the “High Priestess of Soul” by Liz Garbus (Love, MarilynBobby Fischer Against the World), featuring never-before-heard recordings and rare footage. But the documentary isn’t all praise—the film is also an intense look at Simone’s often tumultuous career.

The French Connection (1971)

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider

1970s New York City was fertile ground for gritty, violent crime thrillers, and The French Connection is one of the first—and best—of the genre. The film stars Gene Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Roy Scheider as Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, both detectives trying to uncover a global heroin smuggling operation.

The film is as much about the mood as it is about the actual plot, with large portions taken up by Popeye and Cloudy’s stakeouts. Still, the scheming French gangster Charnier (played by Fernando Rey), is a villain for the ages, and the twists and turns that lead up to the final gunshot are riveting. Of course what most people remember about The French Connection is the car chase, considered one of the best in film history. The mounted camera on the front of Popeye’s Pontiac LeMans still provides a rush and realism that’s as exhilarating today as it was in ’71. It’s hard to imagine an action scene that’s faster or more furious.

This Ain’t No Mouse Music! (2013)

Director: Maureen Gosling, Chris Simon
Stars: Ry Cooder, Michael Doucet, Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins

For those interested in learning more about the history of 20th century Americana music, This Ain’t No Mouse Music!(2013) is your movie. The documentary follows Chris Strachwitz, who has been traversing the country trying to record and preserve classic American folk, blues, and R&B for the last half-century. It’s both a fascinating character study of a man who cares deeply about a subject matter and a spotlight on musical genres that have long since faded from the limelight.

Blue Car (2002)

Director: Karen Moncrieff
Stars: David Strathairn, Agnes Bruckner, Margaret Colin

Blue Car is a coming-of-age drama about a 16-year-old living in Dayton, Ohio. Sometimes beautiful, often painful, the story follows Megan (Agnes Bruckner) as she navigates a crumbling family and social life. Among Megan’s problems are her sister’s mental health issues and a teacher who may want to be more than just her friend. As the movie progresses, Megan faces brutal setbacks as his uncertain future looms ahead. Though Blue Car offers few moments of levity, it’s an affecting portrayal of a young woman doing her best to make sense of world that is often cruel and uncompromising.

Mud (2013)

Image via Lionsgate

Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks

If Mud‘s writer-director were to ever turn his excellent screenplay into a book, it’d be the perfect summer-reading assignment for kids entering high school.

A modern-day Huckleberry Finn of sorts, Nichols’ follow-up to 2011’s darker, more psychologically unnerving Take Shelter is the kind of young-adult adventure tale that, frankly, doesn’t seem to exist anymore. The film centers on Mississippi youngster Ellis (Tye Sheridan, a fine young actor), who, along with his awesomely named buddy Neckbone, befriends the grizzled yet charismatic Mud (Matthew McConaughey) on a secluded, backwoods island. While helping Mud reunite with main squeeze (Reese Witherspoon) and further hide from the men out to kill him, Ellis learns valuable lessons about trust, love, and what it means to be a man.

Mud‘s emotional impact, however, is deeper than its coming-of-age themes. Nichols, quite cleverly, uses the film’s genre elements to fashion one hell of an allegory for how kids process weighty, potentially devastating issues like divorce, betrayal, and heartbreak.

Memphis (2013)

Director: Tim Sutton
Stars: Willis Earl Beal, Constance Brantley, Larry Dodson

Everything I do is a part of this construct of identity and nothingness that I have formulated in my brain, Willis Earl Beal told Complex in an interview about Memphis last year. It’s a sentiment that extends to his character in the film—a drifter musician who wanders the streets of the titular city, occasionally stopping for a drink or to visit a love interest. Tim Sutton’s film, like his star, is almost enigmatic to a fault. Memphis is all about atmosphere, eschewing plot for a rich collection of gothic imagery and impressionistic camera work. While that may be a turn off for some (and try the patience of most), there’s an elegiac beauty to be found in Sutton’s existential vision.

Short Term 12 (2013)

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Stars: Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Kevin Hernandez, Rami Malek

Short Term 12 flirts with several forms of hokeyness, from the white savior movie to the troubled-teen after school special. And in the hands of an inferior filmmaker, either one of those would have surely happened. But indie writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton is too gifted for that.

With a remarkable knack for character development and storytelling, Cretton crafts a film that’s got more in common with Half Nelson than Hardball. Except that Short Term 12 is better than Half Nelson.

Carrying most of the emotional weight is breakout actress Brie Larson (21 Jump Street), playing Grace, a supervisor at a California group home who has deep, troubling issues of her own. Through one kid in particular, a female newbie with serious daddy issues (played by Kaitlyn Dever), Grace is forced to confront her inner demons, and, yes, Short Term 12 then heads into some rather dark places, but it’s never morose. Cretton loves his characters too much to send them into the abyss—by Short Term 12‘s beautifully optimistic end, all’s not right in their world, but it’s certainly hopeful. Just like in real life.

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield

When people talk about Francis Ford Coppola’s string of ’70s classics, The Conversation inevitably receives the least shine. It’s a smaller story, and a deeply personal and uncomfortable one, at that. No gangsters, no Vietnam, this modest picture only tackles the loss of security in the modern world.

Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul, a surveillance expert hired for a routine case-record a conversation-that seems to have led to a murder. This sends Caul, already a paranoid person, into a downward spiral of disquiet. Along the way, Coppola’s explores heavy head-scratchers like responsibility and privacy. Skip The Social Network and watch The Conversation.

Old Joy (2006)

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Stars: Will Oldham, Daniel London, Matt McCormick, Tanya Smith, Autumn Campbell, Keri Moran

This road movie takes two old friends, played by Daniel London and Will Oldham (otherwise known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) trying to catch up via an overnight camping trip in the mountains of Oregon. The tension of the meandering scenes frames the changes the friends have undergone through since last they saw each other. Yo La Tenga provides the atmospheric score, setting the stage for a strange turn you won’t see coming.

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Director: Errol Morris

Private detective turned documentary filmmaker extraordinaire Errol Morris and his film The Thin Blue Line got an innocent man out of prison. How’s that for impactful? While investigating a prosecution psychiatrist named Dr. James Grigson, Morris became interested in the case of  Randall Dale Adams, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder.

In November 1976, a Dallas police officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop. Adams, who was riding in the car with a man named David Ray Harris, was convicted of killing the shooting, but through recreations and new interviews, Morris proves his innocence. Powerful stuff.

Undefeated (2011)

Director: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Stars: Montrail ‘Money’ Brown, O.C. Brown, Bill Courtney

Undefeated, the winner of last year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, is proof that resonant characters and honest emotions can trump familiarity-even more so when those characters are real-life people.

Directed with non-intrusive, observational clarity by first-time documentarians Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, Undefeated follows the Manassas Tigers, a high school football team in Memphis, TN, coached by a great man named Bill Courtney. Over the course of one particularly dramatic season, the Tigers achieve excellence both on the gridiron and off, despite many negative forces.

Lindsay and Martin focus on Courtney and three specific players, each representing a different facet of the squad’s collective resiliency. The directors also benefit from capturing a few spontaneous moments of teary-eyed, unscripted warmth that can only come from the documentary format.

Bernie (2012)

Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey

In Richard Linklater’s dark and wildly funny Bernie, Jack Black plays Bernie Teide, a real-life mortician who kills the wealthy widow that he recently befriended. But Teide isn’t caught right away; instead, he makes excuses to the townsfolk as to why she’s no longer around, and uses her large fortune to donate to people in need. When Teide is put on trial, the town comes to his defense, claiming that the old woman was hated by everyone and deserved to die. More than a pitch-black comedy, Bernie is a study in perception, and how people view murder when it’s perpetrated by someone they like against someone they despise. It also contains the performance of Black’s career.

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