Gone With the Wind (1939)
While many movies are set in Georgia, this is considered to be the “grandaddy of them all”. The word “Tara” in Georgia is probably second to “Peachtree” and many monuments, museums and namesakes are based on the historical, romantic novel-turned-movie. If you’re Southern, you’ve heard phrases such as “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again”.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
Another movie requiring no introduction to Southerners, the Clint-Eastwood-directed film starring Kevin Spacey, John Cusak and UGA V remains infamous in crime movie circles. Filmed throughout Savannah, numerous sites are now the stops for tourists in the town. The Bird Girl statue is no longer at Bonaventure Cemetery and has since been moved to a nearby museum.
Smokey and the Bandit (1976)
Coors beer may no longer be illegal in the Peach State and Trans Ams may no longer be in style, but the glory of this film starring Burt Reynolds remains immortal to all in the region. The movie was filmed around metro Atlanta, particularly in the suburbs of McDonough, Lithonia and Jonesboro. Other scenes were also filmed in the North Georgia mountain town of Helen.
The movie that brought us the line “I bet you can squeal like a pig” and probably the worst stereotype of mountain folk was filmed in Rabun County and neighboring areas in South Carolina. The movie, also starring Burt Reynolds, remains mired in controversy over some questionable scenes. Of course, when you hear “Dueling Banjos”, you can’t help but think of the North Georgia Mountains.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
The winner of four Oscars and three Golden Globes, “Driving Miss Daisy” is based on a play that premiered in the late 1980s. Starring Morgan Freeman as Hoke the Chauffeur and Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan, the film focuses on the issues of race and anti-semitism in the 1940s south. The movie was set in Atlanta and primarily filmed in the neighboring community of Decatur, as well as the suburbs of Douglasville and Griffin.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Alright, so this movie is technically set all throughout the Southeast and the nation. Where’s Forrest sitting throughout the movie, though? Savannah’s Chippewa Square. The bench has since been moved to the Savannah Historical Museum to be kept intact. The movie, starring Tom Hanks, won six Oscars and three Golden Globes.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
The only thing that might pit the states of Georgia and Alabama against each other more than the Dawgs playing Auburn is who lays claim to this 1991 masterpiece. Sure, most of the movie was set in Alabama (while some scenes were set in Valdosta), but the movie itself was filmed in the small town of Juliette. Today, the Whistle Stop Cafe is open for diners and is set right beside the Ocmulgee River near a waterfall and mill frequently seen throughout the movie. So yes, that lake was in Georgia the whole time.
The People vs. Larry Flint (1996)
The film, much like “Forrest Gump”, is set throughout the Southeast and was filmed in Tennessee and Mississippi. That being said, where did the shooting of Larry Flint take place? In the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville. The movie, starring Woody Harrleson as the man behind Hustler magazine, won two Golden Globes.
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981)
People may be more familiar with the song of the same name that was recorded by Vicki Lawrence and later covered by Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire, but the film also has recognition. Starring Kristy McNichol and Dennis Quaid, the 1981 movie was filmed in the Chattanooga suburb of Trenton. The film is loosely based off the song.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
The film, based on the Carson McCullers novel of the same name, is about a deaf-mute man in Columbus who becomes friends with his landlady’s 16 year-old daughter. The novel and movie are both key parts of Georgia’s cultural history.
Tobacco Road (1941)
Screenshot/20th Century Fox
Set in the rural, East Georgia town of Wrens, “Tobacco Road” was about the poverty in the South. The film, when released was controversial, actually leading to a ban in Australia.
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The Peach State is now being dubbed the “Hollywood of the South” and it should be no surprise that iconic Georgia films have been coming out for years.
Movies such as Gone With the Wind and Forrest Gump are deemed classics by all, while others like Deliverance and Fried Green Tomatoes have a cult following. Georgia is a state with mountains and beaches, urban areas and rural backroads, allowing it to be the perfect setting for almost any film.
If there’s one thing Georgia takes pride in, it would be the culture. For instance, the statue of the Bird Girl from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and the bench from Forrest Gump are both in museums. Many references to Gone With the Wind can be found all throughout metro Atlanta and you can still drive by Miss Daisy’s house in Decatur.
Grab your popcorn, pop a cold one and prepare to check these iconic Georgia films off your movie checklist.