There are plenty of cinematic spots worth investigating in the Lone Star State. Here’s a look at five notable films and locations. To explore more historic film spots, try your own self-guided tour here!
Marfa as seen in “Giant”
While Marfa has played host to other Westerns, 1956’s “Giant” was the first to feature this particular slice of West Texas, as the film starring James Dean captures the expansive terrain of the region. Directed by George Stevens, who took home an Academy Award, “Giant” is primarily set on Ryan Ranch, where the fictional home’s skeleton still remains. One could argue that ’50s Marfa providing a temporary home to award-winning moviemakers was a precursor to what the town is today, a bustling habitat for artists and creatives.
Big Bend as seen in “No Country For Old Men”
Few Westerns are as terrifying and timeless as the Coen Brother’s “No Country For Old Men,” largely shot in Marfa, Alpine and the Trans Pecos region. A film built on chase sequences, one key moment sees Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss trek through the brush and wilderness of Big Bend National Park. While you shouldn't flee assailants on your own Western adventure, you could travel trails in an attempt to retrace the steps of the protagonist. However, we don’t recommend removing your shoes or swimming in blue jeans.
Archer City as seen in “Last Picture Show”
Though Larry McMurtry’s novel and the adapted film offer subtle critiques to the nuances of small-town living, the success of both launched Texas’ Archer City to tourist notoriety. While the Hollywood of today is known for using visual effects, the backdrops of this film remain largely unchanged, including the famed Royal Theater, which still operates as a cultural space for live performances and exhibitions. Other landmarks that match up with stills from the film include the city hall sign and Murn’s Cafe.
Corpus Christi’s U.S.S. Lexington Museum as seen in “Pearl Harbor”
While the battle of Pearl Harbor was famously waged along the coast of Hawaii, the 2001 epic depicting the events (and a fun love triangle involving Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale) featured many elements from Corpus Christi’s USS Lexington Museum. Housed on the remnants of the famed naval ship, which was transporting aircraft to Midway Island on the morning of December 7, 1941, this historical landmark serves as a double-dip into both film and United States history.
Leander’s Bagdad Cemetery and Kingsland’s Grand Central Café as seen in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
The 1974 film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has maintained tremendous cultural staying power. This horror classic deftly captures rural Texas’ emptiness between small locations. There are two notable spots to visit: The opening scene takes place in Leander, Texas’ Baghdad Cemetery, across from a potential lunch spot in Smoky Mo’s BBQ; and the antagonist’s family home, which is now the lovely Grand Central Café, is located in Kingsland, outside of Austin. And no, body parts are not featured on the menu, but you can still dine in the same room where Leatherface carved up fictional victims.