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Starstruck in Texas – Hill Country Movie Countdown

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Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

By Jeromy Kusch

The heart of the Texas Hill Country is a dizzying 1,300 miles from Hollywood, California, but that doesn’t mean the Hill Country is void of cinematic culture. Quite the contrary, thanks to some big name-natives, and a developing music and artistic swing, Austin quietly developed into a Mecca, of sorts, for Hollywood elites looking to score box office gold in the Lone Star State.

Hundreds of large box office productions have called the capital home, but only a handful have explored the beauty, style and attitude of the smaller communities and independent nature of those who settled in and call this beautiful Hill Country expanse their home.

Take a look at these 5 Perfect Texas Hill Country Movies.

5. The Getaway: 1972

Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

Photo: alsolikelife.com

“The Getaway” is an action packed thriller that chronicles the odyssey of ex-con Doc McCoy (Steve McQueen) and his fiercely loyal wife Carol (Ali MacGraw). As a condition of his release from an East Texas prison, Doc is expected to rob a bank for the corrupt and connected Jack Benyon (Ben Johnson).

The couple’s journey takes them from Huntsville to El Paso, but much of the filming and action takes place in San Antonio with stops in the Hill Country towns of San Marcos and New Braunfels. One such San Marcos location was an abandoned bank, now the Vault restaurant, was used as the bank for the gritty heist scenes for the film.

This scrappy old-school smash and grab flick, equipped with several Texas Hill Country locations and the never-quit attitude embodied by many Hill Country natives earns this Austin Film Society Hall of Fame classic the fifth spot on our Hill Country movie countdown.

4. Friday Night Lights: 2004

Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

Photo: wrennswritebrainers.com

Nothing says Texas Hill Country more than high school football, and few movies depict Texas High School football better than “Friday Night Lights.” Placed in Odessa, Texas, this Texas-sized pigskin classic makes stops in Austin, Elgin, and Taylor following the tumultuous Permian High Panthers as they chase gridiron glory.

Tip-toeing the eastern edge of the Hill Country like a wide-out attempting to stay in bounds, this truly Texas flick depicts just the right mix of Hill Country Friday nights and locations to take the fourth spot on the list of Hill Country movies.

3. The Alamo: 2004

Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

Photo: The Alamo: 2004 (IMDb)

Tackling a sacred story such as the Alamo is a tall order for any producer, director, or actors. This high-budget (estimated $107 million), star-studded film captures the grand landscape of Texas while attempting to show the desperate situation facing the defenders as the army of General Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) bears down on the famed Texas heros.

Filming of “The Alamo” brought crews to several Hill Country locations both remote and popular to local residents. Director John Lee Hancock made incredible use of Pedernales Falls State Park, two sparse Dripping Springs Ranches, Austin and Bastrop, Texas during filming showing the sprawling expanse that was Texas in the late 1800’s.

Not considered a box office success, “The Alamo” carves out the number three spot on our Hill Country movie list for capturing true Texas Hill Country courage and the beauty of the local landscape.

2. The Newton Boys: 1998

Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

Photo: movpins.com

Featuring three Texas actors and highlighting or filming in eight Texas Hill Country towns, this classic cops and robbers movie follows the infamous careers of the four Newton brothers, Willis (Matthew McConaughey of Uvalde), Joe (Skeet Ulrich), Jess (Ethan Hawke of Austin), and Doc (Vincent D’Onofrio) on their famed journey from rustic Uvalde to the federal penitentiary.

The brothers claimed to be the most successful bank robbers of their day, an assertion supported by 80+ bank capers and 7 train robberies that netted millions of dollars in bounty, including the record for the largest train heist in American history.

Filming in Austin, Bertram, Liberty Hill, Lockhart, Pflugerville, and Bartlett, with movie scenes depicting Kerrville, and the daring one-night, two-robbery extravaganza in Hondo providing the entire country a tour of the historic Texas Hill Country.

This fun and adventurous depiction of the Hill Country’s most notorious bad boys, while covering many Hill Country locales puts it second on the list of the top five Texas Hill Country movies.

1. 7 Days in Utopia: 2011

Starstruck in Texas - Hill Country Movie Countdown

Photo: aceshowbiz.com

A troubled up-and-coming golfer Luke Chisholm (Lucas Black), pushes himself to greatness while being chased by the echoes of an overbearing father, finds himself stuck in the small Hill Country beauty of Utopia, Texas. Mentored by Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall) Chisholm fights off his demons to discover God and his game once again.

Lacking the action and intensity of the previous movies on the list, “7 Days in Utopia” captures nearly every element of Texas Hill Country life that has drawn people to its friendly, scenic locals for centuries. Filming, living, and working out of Hill Country towns exclusively, this movie not only made use of local talent as extras, but boosted businesses by tapping local housing and restaurants for their crew throughout filming.

Earning the top spot in our 5 perfectly Hill Country movie countdown, “7 Days in Utopia” takes a shoe-string budget and creates a perfectly simple feel-good movie that captures the essence and beauty of the Texas Hill Country in a package the entire family can enjoy.