SRT Poll #7: Most Influential Southern Films

Please note: A pair of films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Steel Magnolias (1989), didn’t quite make the cut–apologies in advance to fans of Dolly Parton and Leatherface.

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6 Responses to SRT Poll #7: Most Influential Southern Films

  1. Ben says:

    I don’t think Deliverance deals enough with race to be THE most influential on non-southerns conceptions. Plus, the same storyline would is equally conceivable anywhere in the depths of Appalachia, including New Hampshire (save the banjo).

    That being said, I was bombarded with many Deliverance related jokes before I moved down here…

    • MCH says:

      Ben–I think you could make the case that Deliverance deals with issues of “whiteness” in the contexts of urban vs. rural masculinity and intra-racial cultural differences… but, without question, the banjo is the glue that ties it all together.

  2. JHW says:

    Gotta go with Rhett, Scarlett, Mammy & Co. in this one, despite my appreciation for the significance of each of these films. “Birth of a Nation” invented the modern film. Sidney Poitier’s role “In the Heat of the Night” was landmark, as was Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And Burt Reynolds re-energized Southern Culture in Hollywood in both “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Deliverance” (though some might quibble with perspectives highlighted herein, but that could be said for any of these films). But in the end, nothing can top GWTW in the pantheon of Southern film classics!

  3. MCH says:

    In my humblest of opinions, this was by far the most difficult poll choice to date… Gone with the Wind is a cultural (international) juggernaut to be sure… but I can’t help wondering if, at least in a national context, Deliverance didn’t manage to do more mind-changing than Rhett, Mammy, and co.?

  4. Raffi says:

    I was between Gone with the Wind and Birth of a Nation. In my case, I measure “impact” by profits as well as viewers. When you adjust for population and inflation, as Gary Gallagher points out, these two films are absolutely incomparable to any other blockbusters in the history of the United States, be they “Southern” films or otherwise. But that was my way of measuring it, which of course is not the only valid way to do so. I think y’all’s points above are all very good.

    Between the two, ultimately I went with Gone with the Wind, simply because of the pop culture hype is sparked. And perhaps also because it’s a film almost anyone today has seen (and many people still love), unlike Birth of a Nation (which most people today that are not historians or film majors have not seen, it seems to me).

  5. MCH says:

    Raffi–I think that’s a pretty logical way to judge impact, although in some ways the dice are severely loaded in favor of our frontrunners (Gone with the Wind, Birth of a Nation, and Deliverance) via their respective literary origins. I would offer, only half-jokingly, that we shouldn’t dismiss the Burt Reynolds factor too quickly… If I’m not mistaken, Smokey and the Bandit was a box office juggernaut (well over $100,000,000 I think) and could have potentially done much more had it not been competing directly with the first of the original Star Wars Trilogy.

    Anyhow, thanks for voting!

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