Appalachia in Film and Television

(Prepared by Larry Smith of Bottom Dog Press, BGSU Firelands College; among the sources: “A Hillbilly Timeline” by Holly George-Warren and Judy Teaford's "Appalachian Films, Animations, Documentaries..." web site. Listing is prepared without judgments as to quality or accuracy of Appalachia portrayed. Additional reference: Hllbillyland:  What The Movies Did To the Mountains and What The Mountains Did To The Movies, by J. W. Williamson  UNC Press: Chapel Hill, l995. Please send corrections or suggestions to Larry Smith at

1904…The Moonshiner (Biograph films)

1926…Rainbow Riley film

1929…The Singing Fool features Al Hopkins and the Hill Billies

1934…Li’l Abner comic strip by Al Capp; Snuffy Smith comic strip by Billy DeBeck

1935…Cartoon characters in Walter Lanz short “Hill Billys

1941…Sgt. York film with Gary Cooper, a Howard Hawkes’ film bio story of WW I hero Alvin York of Tennessee

1949…Ma and Pa Kettle film series

1951…Lou Costello in Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain, inspired by Paul Webb’s Mountain Boys cartoons

1953…Andy Griffith comedy album “What It Was Was Football” uses North Carolina mountain accent

1955…No Time for Sergeants teleplay, then 1958 film with Andy Griffith; Night of the Hunter film with Robert Mitchum, remade in 1991 with Richard Chamberlain.

1957...The Real McCoy's television series featuring Walter Brennan, ran till 1963.

1958…Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum; The Light in the Forrest, Disney film.

1959…Li’l Abner musical film.

1960…Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry first appears on The Danny Thomas Show; later that year The Andy Griffith Show debuts.

1961…Bridge to the Sun with Carroll Baker and James Shigeta, story of mountain woman who marries a Japanese man who suffers internment during WW II; Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, television series featuring pop singer Jimmie Rodgers.

1962…The Beverly Hillbillies television show debuts, runs for 9 seasons.

1963…Petticoat Junction television show debuts; Spencer’s Mountain film with Henry Fonda, based on Earl Hammer Jr’s novel featuring the Waltons family.

1965…Green Acres television show debuts; Shenandoah film with James Stewart.

1969…Hee-Haw television musical show debuts.

1971…Deliverance film based on James Dickey novel.

1973…The Last American Hero film with Jeff Bridges as moonshine runner, based on profile of Junior Johnson by Tom Wolfe; Where the Lilies Bloom film.

1974…Where the Red Fern Grows film with James Whitmore.

1975…The Dukes of Hazard television show debuts.

1976…Harlan County, U.S.A (documentary).

1977…Smokey and the Bandit film with Burt Reynolds.

1978...The Deer Hunter film directed by Michael Cimino, starring Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro, won Academy Award for Best Picture, parallels industial Appalachia with Vietnam.

1980…Coal Miner’s Daughter film with Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn.

1984…The Dollmaker film with Jane Fonda of Harriett Arnow’s novel.

1985…Sweet Dreams with Jessica Lange and Ed Harris, Patsy Cline bio story; The River film with Sissy Spacek and Mel Gibson.

1987…Matewan film directed by John Sayles.

1989...Next of Kin film with Patrick Swayze and Liam Neeson; In Country film with Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd, adaptation of novel by Bobbie Ann Mason.

1991…Dancing Outlaw film, Appalachia reality show.

1993…The Beverly Hillbillies film.

1994…Nell film with Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson.

1997...Fire Down Below film with Steven Segal.

1999…October Sky film with Jake Gyllenhaal, based on the memoir Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam Jr.; Songcatcher film story of musicologist working in the mountains.

2000…O Brother, Where Art Thou with Holly Hunter and George Clooney, directed by by the Coen Brothers.

2001...A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connely, story of mathematician John Nash, won Academy Award for Best Picture.

2003…Cold Mountain film based on Civil War novel by Charles Frazier; Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus film, musical road trip documentary through Southern Appalachia.

2005…Walk the Line film biopic of singer Johnny Cash and June Carter; The Appalachians documentary film by Phylis Geller and Mari-Lynn Evans.

2006...Country Boys, documentary of youth in Appalachia as part of television Frontline series

2009…Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People, documentary film narrated by Sissy Spacek, Agee Films; Get Low film with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, directed by Aaron Schneider.

Other Related Pages:
Appalachia Working-Class Fiction List
Some Appalachian Poets
Bottom Dog Press

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