This week’s release of the fact-based “Dallas Buyer’s Club” inspired me to recommend some of my favorites of the dozens of other movies set in the Lone Star State.
1. Giant This massive epic, based on the novel by Edna Ferber, stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and an electrifying James Dean in his last role — poignantly at the end playing the old man he never got to be in real life. It has cattle, it has oil, it has class and race and gender issues, and the unforgettable sight of the Riatta mansion surrounded by a flat, barren landscape.
2. Dazed & Confused Richard Linklater’s films set in his home state include “Slacker” and “Bernie.” The most beloved of his Texas films is this story of one wild day and night when school lets out for the summer that featured a killer soundtrack of 70’s classics and early screen appearances from future stars including Parker Posey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich and fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey.
3. Red River This classic stars John Wayne as Texas rancher Tom Dunson, who adopts a young boy orphaned in an Indian massacre. That boy grows up to be Montgomery Clift in his first film role, already more than able to stand up to a superstar who appeared to be twice his size. Howard Hawks directs this toughest of westerns, with Joanne Dru as a woman who can take an arrow in the shoulder and keep on fighting.
4. The Alamo Courage and honor triumph even when the battle is lost in this story of the legendary defense of a crumbling adobe mission by 185 exceptional men against an army of 7,000. Richard Widmark and John Wayne star as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.
5. The Sugarland Express Before “E.T.” and “Schindler’s List” and Indiana Jones and “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s feature film debut was this fact-based drama. Goldie Hawn and William Atherton star as a young couple who get in trouble with the law when they try to get their son back from foster care.