Dancing Naked in Dixie, set in the real-life city of Eufaula, Alabama, is the story of magazine writer Julia Sullivan. For the first time in her life, Julia is life in the Deep South on her assignment for Getaways. The visit changes her life in many ways — Julia discovers her true purpose in life, finds romance, and experiences the fierce pride of a community at risk of being destroyed by progress.
If you crave more Deep South stories (other than Gone With the Wind), here are my top ten suggestions for movies that feature authentic people and places:
The Blind Side – Based on a true story, is the feel-good story of an affluent Tennessee family who takes in a kid from the streets. Not only did they change the boy’s life (he graduated from university and became a professional football star), but he also became part of their family and enriched their lives. This movie will give you a great taste of the South. Although it is set in Tennessee, it was filmed around Atlanta, Georgia.
Steel Magnolias – This 1989 film stars Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, and Julia Roberts. \ This is one of the great Southern movies about women and their relationships. The story focuses on a group of relatives and friends, and includes the ridiculous (armadillo groom’s cake), the funny (praying because there’s beer in the fridge), and the heart-wrenching. If you’re thinking of Southern movies, you just can’t avoid this one.
Fried Green Tomatoes – Kathy Bates stars as Eveyln Couch, whose life is changed when she meets Ninny Threadgoode, and hears the story of best friends Idgie and Ruth. This movie absolutely captures the spirit of the South. It has everything you could want from a movie: friendship, love, drama, suspense, great food, and a fantastic Southern setting.
Sweet Home Alabama – Reese Witherspoon stars as an Alabama girl who has made it as a New York fashion designer — forced to return home to Alabama before she can marry her Northern sweetheart. On her trip, she gets back in touch with her roots and another side of herself, and of course sparks start flying again with her old sweetheart.
O Brother Where Art Thou? – This movie is based loosely on The Odyssey, but is definitely a Southern movie. Brother is set in the deep South during the depression, and follows some escaped convicts as they try to find a treasure and escape the law. George Clooney stars in the film. One of the best things about the movie is the great soundtrack.
The Apostle - Robert Duvall’s portrayal of a Pentecostal preacher is a bit over the top, but still compelling and true to life. The accent is right, many of the preachers are real, and the characters are more complex than they first appear.
Dead Man Walking - It would have been easy to turn Sean Penn’s Louisiana Death Row inmate into a clichéd Southern monster. But director Tim Robbins puts a human face on a murderer and takes an unflinching look at racism, poverty and capital punishment.
To Kill a Mockingbird - Classic retelling of Harper Lee’s novel. The Mockingbird film does justice to the Pulitzer Prize-winning story.
Monster’s Ball – If you like your movies dark, check out this 2001 film from director Marc Forster. Poor uneducated racist Billy Bob Thornton finds comfort in the arms of poor uneducated single black mother in rural Louisiana as the two come to terms with the violent deaths of their respective sons.
Forrest Gump – Who hasn’t repeated the famous phrase from this movie, that … “Life is like a box of chocolates?” Based on Winston Groom’s novel, this film depicts the life of this native Alabamian through most of the defining events of the 20th century.
What do you think? Which Southern movies are your favorites?