The film critic on archetypes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the quintessential Texas film.
Once and for all: What are the ten best Texas films of all time?
Director: Joel and Ethan CoenPlot: Man hires hit man to kill his wife.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: But, you know, I put it next to Blood Simple or No Country for Old Men, and there’s no comparison. Blood Simple—that film is almost flawless.BLOOM: I like Blood Simple too.
Director: Joel and Ethan CoenPlot: Man finds briefcase full of drug money. Is pursued by maniac killer.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:BLOOM: I’ve seen so many scary movies that there are very few movies that can scare me. No Country scared the crap out of me.RAPP: What’s the scariest
Director: Bruce BeresfordPlot: Out-of-luck country singer seeks redemption through love.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: I thought it was beautiful and spartan. You understand so much of the characters with so few syllables, which is also a very Texan trait. You know, you compare that to Crazy Heart—good Lord, there
Director: Tobe HooperPlot: Friends fall prey to a family of cannibals while on a road trip.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: A lot of people have argued this is the most influential horror film of all time, and at the same time, there are Texas themes that resonate through it.
Director: Peter BogdanovichPlot: Teenagers come of age in a fading small town.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: Last Picture Show is a documentary of the first twenty years of my life. I watched it again last night, and I’d forgotten just how authentic it is. I know that dusty, confining
Director: Arthur PennPlot: Boy meets girl. Murderous bank-robbing rampage ensues.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:KELLY: All right. We have four votes for Bonnie and Clyde.RAMÍREZ BERG: I was the one who didn’t vote for it. It doesn’t scream out, “This is a Texas movie.” It could be Missouri or
Director: Martin RittPlot: Aging rancher struggles with his brash and callous son.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:BLOOM: If we were to make this harder and say we have to pick the best movie based on a Larry McMurtry story, even though I think I should vote for Last Picture Show,
Director: John FordPlot: Civil War vet hunts for his niece, who was kidnapped by Comanche.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: I want to throw one more monkey wrench into the criteria. The Searchers is a bit of a mess as a movie, but it’s been so influential. And there are
Director: George StevensPlot: Rancher with East Coast bride sees Texas transformed by discovery of oil.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:LEAGUE: It’s a deeply flawed movie, but if we’re here to talk about Texas movies, then Giant has to be on the list. I mean, subject material, quintessential Texan characters, independent
Director: Howard HawksPlot: Tensions flare on a cattle drive.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:RAPP: What about Red River?LEAGUE: It’s a little too ham-handed. The complexity of issues in The Searchers is more interesting.BLOOM: But John Wayne is a meaner son of a bitch in Red River. Even Walter
Director: Joel and Ethan CoenPlot: Bar owner hires hit man to kill his wife and her lover. Double-crossing ensues.Excerpts from our roundtable discussion:BLOOM: I like Blood Simple too. But it’s very cinematic. It is based on images and ideas of Texas from film history and from popular-culture history more