With its gorgeous forests, waterways, and mountainsides galore, the Great Smoky Mountains definitely serve as a truly picturesque landscape to remember. What better way to honor the space then than using the Smokies as your movie filming location? Fortunately, many filmmakers have had the same thought, resulting in many amazing films set in and around the park. Want to see the magic for yourself? Here’s a look at six films that put this beautiful wonderland on the big screen.
Although ‘Christy’ never made it to theaters, it’s definitely well worth a watch if you love the Great Smoky Mountains. Based on the novel by Catherine Marshall, this made-for-TV movie takes you back in time to the early 1900s. As you travel through time, you’ll land in Cutter Gap, a small mountain town without much money but with a whole lot of heart.
During the film, you follow Christy Huddleston as she sets out to make a difference in the community by teaching the children. While nobly serving as a teacher, life comes at her hard and fast, making it difficult to stay the course. All along the way, you get to see a simpler way of life while enjoying all the gorgeous landscapes in every shot.
Another made-for-TV marvel, ‘The Dollmaker’ put Jane Fonda centerstage in telling the trials and tribulations of a pioneer woman, Gertie Nevels. As a mom to five kids, Nevels had little choice but to follow along when her husband, Clovis, had to relocate to a factory job in Detroit as World War II raged on.
The journey takes the family from their home in the Kentucky hills all the way to the big city. Along the way, you get to see Cades Cove in all its glory, giving you a glimpse into the wonders of that stellar landscape.
Eventually, Nevels has to swoop in and save the day with her own business creating hand-carved dolls after her husband falters in his mission. As a result, the family was able to return home to Kentucky, taking them yet again through the Smokies on their trip.
A Walk in the Spring Rain
Another blast from the past, ‘A Walk in the Spring Rain’ takes you into the heart of the Smokies alongside Libby Meredith and her husband, Roger. The couple lands in a small mountain cottage to give Roger time to focus on writing a book. Drama ensues, however, as a local mountain man falls head over heels in love with Libby.
As two married couples feel the strain of the passion between Libby and her mountain man, the landscapes across the Smokies compete for your full attention. And they easily get it, too, as the lush forests, wildflowers, and other vegetation light up the screen in vivid hues. You can almost smell the fresh mountain air as you watch the love triangle play out in front of you.
Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier
A true Disney classic, ‘Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier’ tells the story of two wilderness settlers – Davy and his friend, George Russell – coping with wartime troubles. The story takes them from their home in the Great Smoky Mountains all the way to San Antonio.
To set the tone of the film, filming started in Tennessee before eventually going over to Thousand Oaks, California. All throughout their travels, breathtaking views come on the scene, nearly distracting from what’s going on with Davy and George.
A TV series and sequel followed later years. But nothing could compare to the magic of the original with its iconic song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” by The Wellingtons playing throughout its most popular scenes.
Girl in Woods
One part survival movie, another part pure horror, ‘Girl in Woods’ shows the perils of getting lost in the Great Smoky Mountains. To kick off the story, the main character, Grace, ends up lost and alone after suffering a tragic accident. As she realizes her fate, the lush forest closes in, feeling bigger than ever as the trees, shrubs, and flowers spread across the screen.
From there, it’s a battle for survival as Grace attempts to crawl through the dense woodlands in search of rescue. All along the way, she must also battle the forces inside her own mind to avoid losing hope and direction. Insanity looms at the corners of her mind as a result, especially as the trees in the gigantic pine forest start to blend together.
Since ‘The Fugitive’ supposedly played out in Illinois, you might not know that it’s actually the Smokies you see throughout most of the film. The lack of mountains in Illinois made it difficult to shoot many of the scenes, however, including the amazing jump from the dam. What was the dam in question you ask? Well, it was none other than the Cheoah Dam on the Little Tennessee River.
On top of all that, the iconic train scene just wouldn’t be the same if it was filmed anywhere but the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. If you want to see the filming location for yourself, you have to take a ride on the railroad. The wreckage remains along the Tuckasegee River Excursion, but the train doesn’t stop to let you ogle its remains.
While you watch each of these films, try to see if you can name all the greatest spots in the Great Smoky Mountains. Then, start planning your trip to the Smokies to see all those locations in person. Just be sure to bring your own camera, so you can take plenty of photos and videos of your own all along the way.