The great state of Texas has many cinematic qualities about it: Far-reaching plains, expansive deserts, and plenty of horses. So if you're in the mood to watch a movie set in the Lone Star State, you should have no problem tracking one down. The best part about movies set in Texas is that they cover a wide expanse of genres and styles – they're not all dusty westerns about cowboys shooting each other (although who could complain if they were? Cowboys are awesome).
"No Country for Old Men"
The western is the movie genre most associated with Texas, but not all westerns have cowboys shooting at each other on horseback. This Coen brothers thriller is a modern-day western, showing some characters that may have been right at home in old cowboy times but instead have to cope with modern-day brutality (and bad manners) in the form of Anton Chigurh, one of the scariest villains in movie history.
"The Wild Bunch"
Of course, there are plenty of more traditional westerns set in Texas – although this might be the first time that anybody ever called "The Wild Bunch" a traditional western. The bloody violence in Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece is so intense that it earned the movie an X-rating back in 1969. Following a band of outlaws on a suicide mission to rescue one of their own, it's both a meditation on violence and an exciting action-adventure. There's also boobs.
"The Last Picture Show"
Texas isn't all about exciting adventures though. Here's a movie that shows the other side of Texas: The dull and claustrophobic small towns that are familiar to not just Texas, but every state – in a state as big as Texas though, these towns are especially cut off from the outside world. Follow the denizens of Anarene, TX as they love and hurt each other, sometimes simultaneously. It won't make you want to visit Texas, but it might make you want to leave.
This is perhaps the definitive Texas movie, following a wealthy Texas oil family over multiple generations. Rock Hudson, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Dennis Hopper are just some of the actors bringing the sometimes soapy adventures of this family to life. And director George Stevens is an absolute master at shooting those breathtaking Texas landscapes in perfect (and painstaking) compositions. When it first came out in 1956, many Texans were offended by what they considered to be an unfair portrayal, but it has since become recognized as a Texas classic.
"Dazed and Confused"
Another story about life in a small Texas town, "Dazed and Confused" is a lot less depressing than "The Last Picture Show." Probably because none of the characters seem trapped where they are, except maybe the jocks who can't stop reliving thei high school days. And anyway, who could be depressed with so many great songs on the soundtrack?
"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"
People who have never been to Texas might assume that this is actually the truest portrait of what life in the Lone Star State is like. Fortunately, that's not the case, as most of the homicidal and cannibalistic psycho families moved to Oklahoma back in the early 90s. The horror movie is one of the scariest ever made, though, so it wouldn't be your fault if you postponed your visit to Texas after watching it. Can't be too careful, as they say.