Appalachian Films, Animations, Documentaries, Sitcoms, and Variety Shows: 

Judy’s Picks

Judy Teaford 
Mountain State University
Beckley, WV

Films     Animations     Documentaries     

Sitcoms     Variety Shows




NOTE:  Not all of the videos in this bibliography reflect ones that I believe to be accurate representations of Appalachia and Appalachians.  They are, however, videos that I think will aid in the study of Appalachia.  Additionally, I have not listed (so as not to repeat, overmuch, others' works and bibliographies) all videos that I believe might be of benefit in the study of Appalachia.  Some of the videos listed below are annotated, others are not.  Where possible, I have indicated year of release and running time.  Additional videos will be added as they are released.   

Additional AppLit Resources: 
Index of AppLit Pages by Genre: Films

See Also:

Appalachian Film and Television Topics
Dr. Stephen D. Mooney, Instructor, Department of English and Appalachian Studies Program, has compiled a list of film and television shows for his Appalachian Studies Classes at Virginia Tech, VA.   

Appalshop "The Appalshop Film and Video site is being reconstructed. For a complete catalog, contact the Appalshop Marketing and Sales Office at 1-800-545-7467 or"

Davenport Films and From the Brothers Grimm  
American versions of classic folk and fairy tales, many Appalachian.  Davenport has also made many other Appalachian films.



New Releases


Cold Mountain (2003)

Based on Charles Fraizer's book, Cold Mountain. Nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture.  Filmed in Romania because the setting mimics that of 1864 Civil War North Carolina. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman play Inman and Ada, respecitively. Renee Zellwinder is perfectly cast as Ruby. The intertwined stories involve Inman, a confederate soldier shot in the war and expected to die, who leaves the hospital on a 300 mile Odyssey home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina, replete with Odyssean characters. Ada, awaiting the return of her beloved Inman, is ill-equipped to farm the land her father leaves to her. Fortunately, friends send her Ruby, a woman whose unasked for independence led her to know the land and nature of Cold Mountain better than anyone. A superb book and a great movie.   


Mothman Prophecies, The (2001)

Book by John A. Keel. The Mothman Prophicies is based on actual events that occurred between November 1966 and December 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.  There are many internet sites devoted to the Mothman. The IMDB has lots of interesting facts and links. The IMDB has lots of interesting facts and links. X-Files Detour:  Mothman provides details of the episode that centered around the Mothman. Rumor has it that another full-length, feature film, also based on the events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is now in the making, tentatively titled Point Pleasant.


Search for the Mothman (2002) 44M

TV. Directed and written by David Grabias. Production connections to Sony film The Mothman Prophicies, so viewers will see an obvious attempt to interest potential audience of film. Nonetheless, there is some interesting information in the short.


Special Investigations:  Mothman (1996) 29M

Documentary. Summary from IMDB: This documentary examines the sudden appearance of Mothman, a flying creature purported to be seen by residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1966 and 1967. It also looks at connections between the Mothman sightings and other mysterious phenomena throughout history. On-location footage, interviews with local residents, and recreations of the incidents tell the story. Summary written by ( For movie connections


Beautiful Mind, A (2001) 129M

Book by Sylvia Nasar. John Nash was born on June 13, 1928, in Bluefield, West Virginia. Nash attended public school in Bluefield and during his senior year took advanced math classes at Bluefield College, Bluefield, West Virginia.  Universal Studios:  A Beautiful Mind is a technologically smart and visually beautiful web site full of the best available on the film and John Nash.  The site includes John Nash's Nobel Prize Essay, in addition to an easy to understand tutorial.  Links are also included on the site. For information on the many nominations and awards,


2+2 Documentary Short:  John Nash (2002) 11M  
Produced and Co-directed by Benita Raphan and Claymont Hemmert; shown at 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

American Experience:  A Brilliant Madness – PBS Special Documentary. Summary of the PBS Film:  A Brilliant Madness is the story of a mathematical genius whose career was cut short by a descent into madness. At the age of 30, John Nash, a stunningly original and famously eccentric MIT mathematician, suddenly began claiming that aliens were communicating with him and that he was a special messenger. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Nash spent the next three decades in and out of mental hospitals, all but forgotten. During that time, a proof he had written at the age of 20 became a foundation of modern economic theory. In 1994, as Nash began to show signs of emerging from his delusions, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. The program features interviews with John Nash, his wife Alicia, his friends and colleagues, and experts in game theory and mental illness.”  The site also contains a wealth of additional information including transcripts, further reading, primary sources, John Nash interview, game theory for dummies, online forum, timeline of mental illness treatments, Gallery of American Nobelists in economics, more about people and events featured in the film, and a complete TEACHER’S GUIDE."


Other Films


Amy (1972)

Originally made for TV and called Amy on the Lips.


Coal Miner's Daughter


Comin’ Round the Mountain (Universal-International, 1951) 

Starring Abbott and Costello    “Costello’s character supposes that he has inherited a Kentucky legacy . . . where instead of coming into a fabulous fortune, he inherits a ready-made feud and gets threatened, hurt, and humiliated.  But through the crazy (magical) luck of the classic fool, he bounces back from it (Williamson, J. W.  Hillbillyland.  Chapel Hill:  North Carolina UP, 1995.  44).    The term magical is what interests me the most.  I am interested in looking at the use of magical realism in Appalachian works.


Country Music Holiday (Paramount, 1958)

Starring Ferlin Husky, Zsa Zsa Gabor, June Carter     “. . . the country clown troubadour ventures into the big wicked city . . . in order to experience a  symbolic death, only to be resurrected and restored to the innocent and wholesome country” (Williamson, J. W.  Hillbillyland.  Chapel Hill:  North Carolina UP, 1995.  51).    Interesting to explore the idea of leaving home and how it  sometimes causes the person to become less than what s/he once was.


Deer Hunter, The    (1978, 183M, Winner of five Oscars) 

Director Michael Cimino; starring Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, John Savage; co-starring Meryl Streep, John Cazale  A harrowing indictment of war.  The three stars play three Pennsylvania steeltown friends whose lives are forever changed by their experiences together in Vietnam.


Even the Heaven’s Weep (1985) 55M

Battle of Blair Mountain


Fire Down Below    (1997, 105M) 

Director Felix Enriquez Alcala    starring Kris Kristofferson, Marg Helgenberger, Harry Dean Stanton    “When the corrupt industrialists who are poisoning the hills of Kentucky's Appalachia region kill a federal environmental agent, fellow agent Steven Seagal goes undercover to clean things up and bring the bad  guys to justice in this hard-hitting thriller” (Movies Unlimited Website, search for video by title).


Fool’s Parade (1971) 98M

Novel by Davis Grubb.  On Location with Fool’s Parade (1971) 10M (Documentary)


Goodbye, Miss 4th of July (Disney, 1988, 89M)

Novel Christopher G. James/director George Miller  –  starring Louis Gossett, Jr., Chris Sarandon, Ronana

Zal  – filmed in Tennessee    The story of a Greek family that moves to Montgomery.  The father is a chemical engineer.  The family discovers they are not encouraged to befriend blacks and Germans, only Scotts-Irish.  The community of Scotts-Irish divides with half supporting the Greek family and their desire to befriend others and the other half not, being part of the KKK.  “Compelling true‑life drama of teenager Niki Janus, who flees persecution in Greece and settles in West Virginia with her family. Niki befriends a black handyman, but she soon learns of new horrors that await her in her new home: the Ku Klux Klan and a flu epidemic” (Movies Unlimited Website, search for video by title). –  Counteracts stereotypes.


Hatfields and the McCoys, The (1975)

Written by Clyde Ware


Hillbilly Blitzkrieg (1942) 63M


In Country (1989) 116M

A Kentucky high school girl, with her grandmother and veteran uncle, struggles to understand her father's death in Vietnam and her life in 1980s America.


The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James (Joe Cates Productions/NBC-TV, 1980s)    Starring Johnny Cash, Kris Kristopherson, Willie Nelson, David Allan Coe, June Carter Cash    Filmed in Tennessee, Williamson writes it is “the most historically accurate rendering of the Jesse James story” (Williamson, J. W.  Hillbillyland.  Chapel Hill:  North Carolina UP, 1995. 120).


Long Riders, The (United Artists, 1980) 

Director Walter Hill; starring David Carradine as Cole Younger, Randy Quaid as Clell Miller, Stacy Keach as Frank James, James Keach as Jesse James, Keith Carradine as Jim Younger     A Western hillbilly genre film made on location in the north Georgia hills.    Critics indicate that this film is more historically accurate, and it has strong female characters.


Maria’s Lovers (1985) 110M


Mountaineer’s Honor


No Drums, No Bugles (1971) 90M


Paradise Park (1992) 100M


Patch Adams


Preacherman (Preacherman Corp., 1971) 

Director and starring Albert T. Viola –  “It featured a randy preacher, a dumb hillbilly moonshiner, and the hillbilly’s very ripe daughter. . . . retelling the hilarious Miller’s Tale of a traveling priapic fool” (Williamson, J. W.  Hillbillyland.  Chapel Hill:  North Carolina UP, 1995.  63).    This would make and interesting comparison to Chaucer’s tale.


Private Snuffy Smith (1942) 65M


Return of the Beverly Hillbillies, The (1981)

TV movie remade as Beverly Hillbillies, The (1993)


Songcatcher (2001) 113M


Sweet Dreams (1985) 111M

Patsy Cline, filmed partially in Martinsburg, WV.


When the Line Goes Through (1972) 90M


Where the Lilies Bloom







NOTE:  A Feud There Was, Musical Mountaineers, Naughty Neighbors, and When I Yoo Hoo are of interest because they present Yosef-like (clown mascot) representations of the hillbilly.


Feud There Was, A (Warner Brothers, 1938)  


The Griffin and the Minor Canon – West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Every aspect of this animated version of Frank R. Stockton’s "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" has a West Virginia connection.  The setting is western Virginia in the 1850s; one specific setting is Seneca Rock, West Virginia.  Most of the actors/voices are currently West Virginia residents or natives, including David Shelby (The Griffin), Chris Sarandon (The Minor Canon), Kathy Mattea (Mother), and Don Knotts and Soupy Sales (Messengers).  The film was co-produced by Mary Lucille DeBerry and Brad Stalnaker, who also animated the film.  The following Teacher Guides are available:  OVERVIEW: A Creative Guide to Reading and Viewing Frank R. Stockton's Story "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" Especially for Teachers of Grades 7-12 with suggestions for choosing applicable materials for specific classes  *  AUTHOR: To Illuminate the Author's Creativity Insight into the life of Frank R. Stockton  *  STORY: To Delve into the Story To Better Understand "The Griffin and the Minor Canon"  *  ANIMATION: To See the Music and Hear the Colors The Animation Process and What is Involved  *  TEAMWORK: To Make the Griffin Fly Who Helped Bring "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" to Television  *  EXTRA INFORMATION: To Provide More Insight   IGOs and Process Skills, Time Line, The Original Story, The Script, Bibliography and Credits. 

“This is No Looney Toon” by Charlene Lattea from West Virginia University Alumni Magazine An excellent article about The Griffin and the Minor Canon, Lattea includes information about the West Virginia connections of the animated film as well as various other items of interest, including a short synopsis of the working relationship of co-producers Mary Lucille DeBerry and Brad Stalnaker.

Musical Mountaineers (Max Fleischer Cartoons, 1939) 

Starring Betty Boop.


Naughty Neighbors (Warner Brothers, 1939) 

Starring Porky and Petunia Pig.


Three Mountain Tales – (Appalshop, 1982, Color, 12M)  – director Roadside Theater    “. . . mountain folk tales, illustrated with pastel drawings by Angelyn DeBord.  Told in mountain dialect and accompanied by fiddle, banjo, and guitar, these animated stories are entertaining for young and old alike.  ‘Fat and Lean’ is a ghost story with a comic twist; ‘Little Fish Story’ is a tale from the Smoky Mountains about friendship and the origin of rainbows. And ‘The Big Toe’ is the story of a little boy’s encounter with a big, hairy goblin whose toe looked too much like a potato” (Appalshop Community Use Video Catalog 10).    I have a strong interest in folktales, especially ghost tales.


When I Yoo Hoo (Warner Brothers, 1936)






American Hollow (1999) Directed by Rory Kennedy


Buffalo Creek Flood    (Appalshop, 1975, Color, 40M) 

Director Mimi Pickering    “On February 26, 1972, a coal-waste dam owned by the Pittston Company collapsed at the head of a crowded hollow in southern West Virginia.  A wall of sludge, debris, and water tore through the valley below, leaving in its wake 125 dead and 4,000 homeless.  Interviews with survivors, representatives of union and citizen’s groups, and officials of the Pittston company are juxtaposed with actual footage of the flood and scenes of the ensuing devastation.  As reasons for the disaster are sought out and examined, evidence mounts that company officials knew of the hazard in advance of the flood, and that the dam was in violation of state and federal regulations” (Appalshop Community Use Video Catalog 1).    Excellent additional resource material for study with Denise Giardina’s Unquiet Earth.


Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning    (Appalshop, 1988, Color, 28M) 

Director Mimi Pickering    “for decades, Sarah Gunning wrote and performed hauntingly beautiful ballads about the lives of working people.  Born in the eastern Kentucky coalfields in 1919, Gunning lived through the organizing drives and coal mine strikes of the 1920s and ‘30s and the bitter poverty of the Depression.  This program intercuts Sarah’s most affecting songs with rare documentary film clips and photographs of early mining life”  (Appalshop Community Use Video Catalog 2).


Ethel Caffie-Austin 

Story of an African-American woman born in Bluefield and reared in Mt. Hope, West Virginia.  Ethel teaches at Augusta Music Festival in Elkins, West Virginia.     (Can purchase at Tamarak, Beckley, West Virginia) OR His Eye Is On The Sparrow    (Appalshop, 1999, Color, 57M)    Documentary – Director Anne Lewis    Ethel “is filmed working with young people in Cumberland, Kentucky; ministering to inmates at Mt. Olive correctional Institution; and leading a choir at the Black Sacred Music Festival in Institute, West Virginia.  Oral history, archival material, and interviews are combined with performance footage to tell a powerful story of personal freedom and triumph through faith, wisdom, and the support of a caring community” (Appalshop Community Use Video Catalog 3).    This would be someone many of my students would be able to look up to and identify with.


Forks of Cheat 

This film celebrates pioneer customs and foodways.  Once a year, a local church (Methodist ?) near Morgantown, West Virginia, has a dinner of bear meat.  Those who eat the bear meat will be inducted into the Hall of Bear.  –  Students are always interested in local characters, etc., as am I.


Helvetia Swiss Community 

Story of small Swiss community near Webster County.    (Can purchase at Tamarak, Beckley, West Virginia)


Mountaineer (1993-95) 59M

Uses film clips to discuss difference between mountaineer and hillbilly.


Myth and Moundbuilders (1981) 55M


On Location with Fool’s Parade (1971) 10M


Roseanna McCoy 

Starring Farley Granger    Hatfields and McCoys feud with a strong focus on the Romeo and Juliet plot. – Hopefully, it is an interesting variety on a common theme.  It might make a good introduction to Shakespeare’s drama, Romeo and Juliet.


Seven Sisters:  A Kentucky Portrait  

A Documentary Film by Patrick Donohaw, Featuring Music by the Crooked Jades   "Seven Sisters is a new vision of Appalachia which powerfully evokes the coming of age of seven women through their journey off the family farm. This is a story of heroism—not in a grandiose, earth-shaking way, but through a collection of small acts of sacrifice, courage and generosity. At the center of it all are seven strong willed and colorful women—one family and the fierce bonds that hold them together. A film so powerful and moving, the governor of Kentucky proclaimed March 8, 2001 (International Women’s Day) to be “Seven Sisters Day” in Kentucky!"  The site contains background information and teacher's resources.  There is also information for obtaining a copy of the documentary, the soundtrack, etc.   


Strangers and Kin (1984) 58M


Stranger with a Camera

"In 1967 eastern Kentucky, Hobart Ison shot and killed Canadian Filmmaker Hugh O'Connor who was documenting conditions of poverty in Appalachia.  Elizabeth Barret's Stranger with a Camera revisits this tragedy to explore the complex relationship between filmmakers and and the communities they portray" (Independent Television Service (ITVS) –  The site includes The Story, Appalachian, Media's Role, the Filmmakers, Comments, and Resources.)  





NOTE: All of the following sitcoms are associated with hillbillies. For the most part, the term hillbilly and the people associated with the term are believed to be residents of the Appalachian region, most commonly central or southern Appalachia. But not all of the following sitcoms are set in Appalachia.  In most instances, a small amount of research reveals exact settings. Have you ever wondered why scholars and non-scholars alike associate the following sitcoms with Appalachia?    


Andy Griffith, The  (1060-1968) 30M, 249 episodes 

Summary from IMDB: Widower Sheriff Andy and his son Opie live with Andy's Aunt Bea in Mayberry NC. With virtually no crimes to solve, most of Andy's time is spent philosophizing and calming down his cousin Deputy Barney. Summary written by Ed Stephan "Mayberry, North Carolina is based on Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's [Sheriff Andy Taylor] birthplace." ( For movie connections 


Boston Common (1996-1997) 30M

The college in the series is based on Emerson College in Boston, which star Anthony Clark [Boyd Pritchett] attended.  Summary from IMDB: After moving to Boston from Virginia, to spy on his sister who just started college, Boyd finds himself working for the student union where he raises hell more often than he should. Summary written by Steve Richer (

Beverly Hillbillies, The (1962-1971) 30M, 274 episodes

An Ozark hillbilly family strikes it rich when father Jed Clampett discovers oil on their land.  The Clampetts move to Beverly Hills, California. ( For movie connections  "The theme song, 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett,"' was specially composed for the program by blue-grass musicians Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs" (The Beverly Hillbillies Online at, an interesting and informative site). 


The Dukes of Hazzard  (1979-1985) 50M, 145 episodes

The first five episodes were filmed in Covington, Georgia, the rest in Hollywood, CA.  The setting of the sitcom is never identified, just somewhere in the South. Summary from IMDB: Cousins Bo and Luke Duke and their car "General Lee", assisted by Cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse, have a running battle with the authorities of Hazzard County (Boss Hogg and Sheriff Coltrane), plus a string of ne'er-do-wells often backed by the scheming Hogg." Summary written by by Ed Stephan ( For movie connections  


Green Acres (1965-1971) 30M, 170 episodes

Spin-off of Petticoat Junction. "Manhattan lawyer Douglas drags his protesting socialite wife and her finery to the rural backwash of a rundown farm outside Hooterville. They attempt to get the farm fixed up. Farmer Fred Ziffel's pig Arnold watches TV and is in many ways smarter than the Hootervillians." Summary written by Ed Stephan ( For movie connections  


Gomer Pile, U.S.M.C.  (1964-1970) 30M, 150 episodes

Spin-off from The Andy Griffith Show.  Summary from IMDB: Gomer Pyle was a sweet but not too smart Marine from Mayberry, North Carolina who was stationed at Camp Henderson near Los Angeles, California. Gomer's innocence, naivete and low-key demeanor often got him into trouble, most frequently at the hands of his loud-mouthed superior, Sgt. Carter. Duke, Frankie, Lester and Larry were some of Gomer's pals and fellow enlisted men at Camp Henderson, and Lou Anne Poovie was his sometimes girlfriend who worked as a singer at the Blue Bird Cafe, where Gomer and the boys often hung out. Summary written by Marty McKee ( For movie connections


Petticoat Junction  (1963-1970) 30M, 222 episodes

Spin-off from Green Acres. Summary from IMDB: Widow Kate Bradley and her three daughters run the Shady Rest Hotel on the outskirts of Hooterville. City folk escape from hectic urban life with brief stays in the rural village where nothing much ever happens. Floyd and Charley make regular runs in the Hooterville Cannonball, an ancient steam train that is still the town's chief public transportation to Drucker's General Store. And old Uncle Joe? He's a-movin' kinda slow.. Summary written by Anthony Bruce Gilpin ( For movie connections  For and interesting article on the shows beginnings, read Petticoat Junction: In the Beginning: "The idea for Petticoat Junction came from within Paul Henning's own family - specifically from the childhood of his wife, as Ruth herself elaborates: 'My grandparents, Willis and Martha Burris had this hotel in a little small town in the middle of Missouri. The town (population) was about 3000 - Eldon, Missouri. It didn't look anything like the Shady Rest Hotel, but it was right near the railroad station'" (accessed 02/06/2002 from at Petticoat Junction Web Site links broken). 


The Real McCoys (1957-1963) 30M

Summary from IMDB:  A pleasant thirty-minute bit of family values. Like all successful TV shows of the era, it included a "real star" in the cast - in this case, Walter Brennan. The show stressed family solidarity and doing the right thing. Each episode contained an understated lesson in life and living. "Lyrics for the show's theme song: Want you to meet the family that's known as the real McCoys / From West Vir-gi-nee they came to stay in sunny Cal-i-for-ni-ay / 'Ole Grandpappy Amos and the girls and boys of the family known as The Real McCoys / What a housekeepr Kate is, she's doin' what she enjoys / No gal can beat her when it come to looks and the same can be said 'bout the way she cooks for / Grandpappy Amos and the girls and boys of the family known as The Real McCoys / Livin' as good folks should live and happy as kids with toys / 'Ole Grandpappy Amos is the head of the clan, he roars like a lion but he's gentle as a lamb / His grandson Luke keeps a beamin' with joy since he made Miss Kate Missus Luke Mccoy / Sharing each other's sorrows, enjoyin' each others joys / Like all other families they quarrel and fuss but it a'int never serious with / Grandpappy Amos and the girls and boys of the family known as The Real McCoys." ( For movie connections  


Variety Shows

Hee Haw
(1969-1992) 60M
Filmed in Nashville, Tennessee. Summary from IMDB: "Hee Haw" a mixture of music and comedy skits was a staple of syndicated television for more than 20 years; originally, the show had aired on CBS, but was canceled in 1971 because the network thought it was "too rural." A majority of each week's "Hee Haw" shows included a series of skits, blackouts and corny jokes; however, the meat of series came from its music. Each week, two or three country music stars guested usually one or two of the guests being well-established, the others newer and up-and-coming stars as well as bluegrass, country gospel and other acts, signers and musicians popular with country audiences. During the final segment of each show, the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet (through the mid-1980s, usually co-hosts Owens and Clark, along with Kenny Price and Grandpa Jones) performed a gospel song. The shows were taped only a few weeks out of the year, usually weeks (and sometimes, months) in advance; that meant some of the short-lived "newer" acts had already lost their star power by the time the show they were featured in had aired. By the early 1990s, the show started to abandon its rural, barnyard set in favor of a nightclub setting, though popular "rural" settings were still used; that, plus the show's booking of newer pop-oriented country acts alienated more than a few longtime viewers, who believed "Hee Haw" should have maintained its traditional country focus. During the 1992-1993 season, Clark hosted a series which featured clips from classic "Hee Haw" shows, along with new footage. Summary written by Brian Rathjen ( For movie connections 



This Page Created:  02/06/2002
Last Update:  04/01/2005 09:02:26 PM
Links Checked:  04/01/2005