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Southern Accents in Movies: The Good, The Bad, The Very Ugly

posted by Nell Minow

When I saw New York Magazine’s Vulture blog did a slideshow about the worst Southern accents in the movies, with clips of real-life speakers from the actual towns that were supposed to be represented, I was delighted to see some recognition that not all Southerners sound like L’il Abner and that there are distinctive differences based on region and culture.  As we say in the South, bless their hearts.

My own pick for the worst Southern accent I ever heard on screen was in a British miniseries I saw on PBS many years ago.  I genuinely thought the character had a speech impediment.  Vulture picks Nicolas Cage for their all-time worst, but I’d go for John Travolta (“A Love Song for Bobby Long”).  Best?  Ms. Meryl Streep, of course, in “The Seduction of Joe Tynan.”  She said she based her honeyed tones on Dinah Shore.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Toby Clark

    My pick would have to be Peter Purves as Morton Dill in the 1965 Doctor Who episode Flight Through Eternity (part of the serial The Chase). Granted, the scene in question would have been embarassing enough even with a convincing accent.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment monkie

    I can’t really blame the Brits for botching American accents… they probably still haven’t forgiven us for Dick Van Dyke.
    :)

    • Nell Minow

      I love Dick Van Dyke, but his “Mary Poppins” accent is a legendary disaster. And since that miniseries I mentioned, the Brits and Australians have really mastered the art of American accents. Hugh Laurie and Rose Byrne are amazing. Thanks, Monkie!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Toby Clark

    Rose Byrne is Australian. Not that I don’t agree, her accent is flawless.

    • Nell Minow

      Toby, of course you’re right! I’ve met her and I should have said that! But I’m glad you agree with my point that her American accent is perfect.

  • http://chrisqueen.net Chris Queen

    Kyle Chandler is a native of Loganville, GA, about 15 minutes from where I live. You can count on him to deliver a pitch-perfect Georgia accent when the role calls for it.

    • Nell Minow

      Good to know, thanks!

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