There’s no place like home, and if you’re seeking for the most memorable movies from Kansas, we have the list for you.
From Westerns to fantasy to a nuclear apocalypse, the Sunflower State has been the location for many iconic films. Eight similar movies are listed below.
If you desire further readings, the Center for Kansas Studies at Washburn University has created lists of movies having Kansas ties. The school’s listings are available online.
1. The Jayhawkers
This 1959 movie directed by Melvin Frank is set before the Civil War, during the Bleeding Kansas period. Rebel commander Luke Darcy (played by Jeff Chandler) sees himself as the leader of an independent Kansas republic. Former raider Cam Bleeker (played by Fess Parker,who was best known as the Davy Crockett actor) is assigned with catching the rebel. The final fight happens at an Abilene tavern.
2. Kansas Raiders
After they were wrongly accused of being part of Quantrill’s Raiders while in Lawrence,American bandit Jesse James (played by Audie Murphy, the decorated World War II hero) and his companions join up with the infamous gang of pro-Confederate guerillas. The companions were shocked by Red Leg abolitionist atrocities but found themselves engaged in much worse war crimes, notably the 1863 Lawrence massacre. This1950 movie was directed by Ray Enright.
3. Dances with Wolves
Kevin Costner directed and acted in this 1990 movie where he played Army Lt. John Dunbar. The soldier was relocated to Fort Hays in Kansas during the Civil Warand eventually a farther westfrontier outpost. Hebefriended a wolf and Native Americans during the expedition. The filmwon seven Academy Awards and a Golden Globe and was added to the National Film Registry in 2007.
4. Sarah, Plain and Tall
Based on the popular primary school reading levelbook series of the same name by Patricia MacLachlan, this 1991 Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-television movie was directed by Glenn Jordan. The storyfollows the life ofNew England mail-order bride Sarah Wheaton (played by Glenn Close)who comes to theKansas plains in 1910 to marry widower farmer Jacob Witting (played by Christopher Walken) who needs help raising his children. Filming locations for the Emmy-award-winning movie included Wichita and theMelvern area.
5. The Day After
Set in Lawrence and the Kansas City area, the movie chronicles the story of survival as nuclear missiles decimate several locations. President Ronald Reagan was apparently concerned by the movie, contributing to a turning point in foreign policy and thenuclear arms race. “It’s quite effective & left me greatly depressed,” he wrote in his diary. The movie, directed by Nicholas Meyer, set a record as the highest-rated television picture in history and won two Emmy Awards.
6. The Learning Tree
Written and directed by legendary Fort Scott photographer Gordon Parks, this 1969 coming-of-age movieis based on Parks’1963 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Itfollows the lives of poor Black youngster Newt Winger (played by Kyle Johnson) as helearns about love, death, values andracial injustice in 1920s Kansas. The movie, filmed in Fort Scott, was one of the first 25 movies recognized to the National Film Registry asa”culturally, historically or esthetically significant.”
7. In Cold Blood
This rated-R 1967 neo-noir movie based on the 1966 real crime book by Truman Capote goes into the 1959 quadruple murder of the Clutter family in Holcomband the accompanying police manhunt and eventual executions. The film was shot on location, including the genuine Clutter home where the heist and murders occured. The picture, starringPerry Smith (played by Robert Blake) and Richard “Dick” Hickock (played by Scott Wilson), was listed to the National Film Registry in 2008.
8. The Wizard of Oz
This 1939 movie directed by Victor Fleming is the source of the term “we’re not in Kansas anymore,” as a tornado takes Dorothy Gale (played by Judy Garland) from her Kansas home to the mythical Land of Oz. The original 1900 book by L. Frank Baum was arguably an allegory on American politics and populism in the Midwest, according to the Kansas Historical Society. The movie wontwo Academy Awards, including one for the original song “Over the Rainbow,” andwas also one of the first 25 movies designated to the National Film Registry. The Library of Congress believes the masterpiece “has been seen by more viewers than any other movie.”