Sunday, December 11, 2016

Indiana In The Movies (Part One)

Today is the 200th anniversary of Indiana officially becoming an American state. To coincide with this momentous occasion, I've decided to take a look at how Indiana has fared in the movies. In all honesty....there isn't really much to go over.

A few movies have been based in Indiana, but not nearly as much as other, more famous states--and there's even fewer movies that were actually filmed in the state. Indiana has a reputation as being "flyover country"--a dull place with no natural wonders, a place filled with boring, ordinary folks. Whenever a character in a film or a TV show is revealed to be from Indiana, it is usually a shorthanded way of showing that the character is naive, or unsophisticated, or a "rube" (does anyone even use the term "rube" anymore?).

Probably the most famous movies set in Indiana are A CHRISTMAS STORY, HOOSIERS, BREAKING AWAY, and RUDY. It's no coincidence that three of those films feature protagonists trying to succeed at athletic events against daunting odds. Most Americans would naturally assume that someone in Indiana would be one of the "little guys", therefore it would make sense to base a sports film in the Hoosier state. Anyone living in Indiana just has to be an underdog.

As for other Indiana films, there's KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL-AMERICAN (like RUDY, a film based more on the University of Notre Dame than the Hoosier state), all the various movies based on the life of John Dillinger, the MGM epic RAINTREE COUNTY, and a number of titles which have sequences concerning the Indianapolis 500, such as the THE CROWD ROARS with James Cagney.

Indiana has made a "cameo" in many famous films. When it comes to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, one always thinks of Devil's Tower in Wyoming--but the scenes involving Richard Dreyfuss' character and his family are set in Indiana. Remember in THE BLUES BROTHERS when the band makes a stop at Bob's Country Bunker? That toddlin' joint is supposed to be located outside of Kokomo, Indiana. (Don't try looking for it--Bob's never existed, although people still ask where it is to this day.) The crop duster sequence in NORTH BY NORTHWEST is one of the most renowned movie set-pieces of all time--and in the story it takes place somewhere in Northern Indiana, even though it was filmed in California. In THE PHILADELPHIA STORY my birthplace and hometown of South Bend is mentioned, and I always get a kick out of that. In REMEMBER THE NIGHT, Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck travel to the Hoosier state, and they fall in love while there.

There have been plenty of famous performers who were born in Indiana...including some that would surprise you. I'll examine that list in part two of this post.

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