The Ten Greatest Texas Films Ever

 THE SEARCHERS (June 3, Groesbeck)- Old Fort Parker - Inspired by the true story of a Cynthia Anne Parker's kidnapping during a Comanche raid on Fort Parker in 1836, director John Ford's iconic tale of mercenary obsession has been called "the most influential film in American history". John Wayne stars as anti-hero Ethan Edwards, a man consumed by longing, hatred and a destructive quest for vengeance.


Year: 1956
Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, John Qualen, Harry Carey Jr., Olive Carey, Antonio Moreno, Henry (Kleinbach) Brandon, Hank Worden, Lana Wood, Dorothy Jordan, Patrick Wayne
Directed By: John Ford

The classic Ford western, starring John Wayne as a hard-hearted frontiersman who spends years doggedly pursuing his niece, who was kidnapped by Indians. A simple western structure supports Ford's most moving, mysterious, complex film. Many feel this is the best western of all time.


Year: 1956
Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood, Ward Bond, John Qualen, Harry Carey Jr., Olive Carey, Antonio Moreno, Henry (Kleinbach) Brandon, Hank Worden, Lana Wood, Dorothy Jordan, Patrick Wayne
Directed By: John Ford





THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (June 4, Kingsland) - Junction House - Join us where it all began. Tobe Hooper's great American classic still packs a punch of feral, inbred madness. The original house of horrors, since transplanted some 80 miles east of the original shooting location in Williamson County, now offers up tasty Texas-style comfort cuisine. Come and get it.

Year: 1974
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danzinger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, Jerry Lorenz
Directed By: Tobe Hooper

The movie that put the "power" in power tools. An idyllic summer afternoon drive becomes a nightmare for a group of young people pursued by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Made with tongue firmly in cheek, this is nevertheless a mesmerizing saga of gore, flesh, mayhem, and violence.





BLOOD SIMPLE (June 5th, Austin) - Dessau Hall - Joel and Ethan Coen's seamy redneck noir (and their directorial debut) was shot on location in this landmark Austin music venue, which doubles as Marty's bar in the film. Over the years, Dessau Hall has hosted the likes of Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and a young Elvis Presley.

Year: 1985
Cast: John Getz, M. Emmet Walsh, Dan Hedaya, Frances McDormand, Samm-Art Williams, Van Brooks, Lauren Bivens, Holly Hunter
Directed By: Joel Coen

A jealous husband hires a sleazy private eye to murder his adulterous wife and her lover. A dark, intricate, morbid morality tale that deviates imaginatively from the standard murder mystery thriller. First film scripted by the Coen brothers.





HUD (June 11th, Claude) Railroad Tracks - Paul Newman stars as Hud Bannon, the arrogant son of a Texas rancher whose family and livelihood are torn apart by circumstance and long-held resentments. Although well into adulthood, Hud is still sowing wild oats, spending most of his time drinking, fighting, seducing women and pulling reckless stunts in his Cadillac - usually while driving over the train tracks.

Year: 1963
Cast: Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal, Brandon de Wilde, John Ashley
Directed By: Martin Ritt

Newman is a hard-driving, hard-drinking, woman-chasing young man whose life is a revolt against the principles of stern father Douglas. Neal is outstanding as the family housekeeper. Excellent photography. Based on the Larry McMurtry novel "Horseman, Pass By."




RED RIVER (June 17th, Fort Worth) - Fort Worth Stockyard Exchange - Before the establishment of a railway system throughout the state, Texas cattle drivers made the treacherous journey up the Chisholm Trail to sell their livestock in Abilene, Kansas. Howard Hawks dramatizes the history of the trail in this 1948 Academy Award nominee starring John Wayne as the pioneering rancher who makes the first journey. Fort Worth's historic stockyard exchange was the final junction for real-life drovers on the Chilsolm Trail before crossing the Red River into Native American territories.

Year: 1948
Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, John Ireland, Noah Beery Jr., Paul Fix, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey Jr., Harry Carey Sr., Chief Yowlachie, Hank Worden
Directed By: Howard Hawks

The classic Hawks epic about a gruelling cattle drive and the battle of wills between father and son. Tom Dunston (Wayne), who owns a sprawling cattle empire, decide to make a difficult trek north, refusing to listen to any advice from his adopted son, Matthew Garth (Clift, in his first film). Matt is eventually forced to take over the drive from the obsessed Dunston, who swears revenge. Generally regarded as one of the best westerns ever made, with a great supporting cast headed by Brennan and Ireland, although Dru is a very nominal love interest. Restored version has eight minutes of previously edited material. Remade for TV in 1988 with James Arness and Bruce Boxleitner.




BONNIE AND CLYDE (June 18th, Pilot Point) Farmers and Merchant's Bank - Reimagining this infamous depression-era criminal duo with notes of sympathy and a touch of New Wave glamour, Arthur Penn's 1968 film was controversial for its violence yet embraced by a generation of moviegoers who identified with its themes of rebellion. Join us in Pilot Point for a celebration of this landmark motion picture at the bank where the first major heist scene was filmed.

Year: 1967
Cast: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Gene Wilder, Dub Taylor, Evans Evans
Directed By: Arthur Penn

Based on the biographies of the violent careers of Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Beatty), who roamed the Southwest robbing banks. In the Depression era, when any job, even an illegal one, was cherished, money, greed, and power created an unending cycle of violence and fury. Highly controversial and influential, with pronounced bloodshed (particularly the pairs balletic and bullet-ridden end) that spurred mainstream cinematic proliferation. Established Dunaway as a star; produced by Beatty in one of his best performances.





TENDER MERCIES (June 19th, Waxahachie) - Ellis County Courthouse - Robert Duvall's understated performance as a faded country music star and recovering alcoholic earned him an Academy Award for best actor in 1983. Join us on the steps of the courthouse, where, to prepare for his role as Mac Sledge, Duvall used to practice playing guitar with local Waxahachie musician Mike O'Daniel.

Year: 1983
Cast: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley, Ellen Barkin, Wilford Brimley, Lenny Von Dohlen, Allan Hubbard
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

Down-and-out country singer Mac Sledge (Duvall) gets roaring drunk after breaking up with his wife Dixie (Buckley) andfinds himself waking up at a motel/gas station run by religious widow, Rosa Lee (Harper). mac sticks arounds and finds his life redeemed by the love of a good woman and he also decides to attempt a comeback. Aided by Horton Foote's script, Duvall, Harper, and Barkin (as Mac's daughter Sue Anne) keep this from being simplistic and sentimental. Duvall wrote as well as performed the songs in his Oscar-winning performance. Wonderful, life-affirming flick.





NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN  (June 24th, Marfa) - Marfa - Shot on the seemingly endless state highways and vast ranch lands just outside the city of Marfa, this contemporary Western classic earned the Coen Brothers many well-deserved accolades for the film's technical and dramatic achievements. Perhaps most judicious of all their creative choices however was the Prince Valiant bob worn by star Javier Bardem in his role as the murderous Anton Chigurh.

Year: 2007
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Barry Corbin
Directed By: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen




GIANT (June 25th, Marfa) - The Paisano Hotel - This beautiful, historic hotel in the center of Marfa served as the residence of the cast and crew of Giant throughout the film's lengthy production in 1955. Guests of the hotel can request to stay in the rooms once occupied by stars Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.

Year: 1956
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Chill Wills, Dennis Hopper, Rod Taylor, Earl Holliman, Jane Withers, Sal Mineo, Mercedes McCambridge
Directed By: George Stevens

Based on the Edna Ferber novel, this epic saga covers two generations of a wealthy Texas cattle baron (Hudson) who marries a strong-willed Virginia woman (Taylor) and takes her to live on his vast ranch. It explores the problems they have adjusting to life together, as well as the politics and prejudice of the time. Dean plays the resentful ranch hand (who secretly loves Taylor) who winds up striking oil and beginning a fortune to rival that of his former boss. Dean's last movie--he died in a car crash shortly before filming was completed.




THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (July 1st, Archer City) - The Royal Theater - Archer City and the restored Royal Theater on South Sycamore Street are the inspiration for author Larry McMurtry's semi-autobiographical novel The Last Picture Show and director Peter Bogdonovich's 1971 film of the same name. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white at a time when it had been completely phased out of practice, the film explores the restive lives of youth in a small Texas town in the 1950s and launched the careers of Cybil Shepard, Jeff Bridges, Randy Quaid and Cloris Leachman.

Year: 1971
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Shepherd, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sharon Taggart, Randy Quaid, Sam Bottoms, Bill (Billy) Thurman, John Hillerman
Directed By: Peter Bogdanovich

Slice of life/nostalgic farewell to an innocent age, based on Larry McMurtry's novel. Set in Archer City, a backwater Texas town, most of the story plays out at the local hangout run by ex-cowboy Sam the Lion (Johnson). Duane (Bridges) is hooked up with spoiled pretty girl Jacy (Shepherd), while Sonny (Bottoms), a sensitive guy, is having an affair with the coach's neglected wife, Ruth (Leachman). Loss of innocence, disillusionment and confusion are played out against the backdrop of a town about to close its cinema. Shepherd's and Bottoms' film debut. Stunningly photographed in black and white (Bogdanovich claimed he didn't want to "prettify" the picture by shooting in color) by Robert Surtees. Followed by a weak sequel, "Texasville."