The Magnolia State is a lot more than just the Mississippi River. Although the river is the third longest on the continent at 2,340 miles. And the state’s name does stem from the Ojibwa word messipi, which translates to “big river.” But within its 48,430 square miles, there is a quite a bit more than just The Big Muddy.
The Mississippi Delta region, the northwest section of the state, is known as the birthplace of blues. The Mississippi Gulf Coast, which runs 26 miles from Henderson Point to Biloxi is the longest man-made beach in the world. And about 60 percent of the state’s land is forested, with six national forests and 24 state parks.
The Hospitality State’s biggest industries include agriculture, forestry, cotton, and pond-raised catfish. It is also the home of root beer, as it was invented in Biloxi in 1898. In 1929, Pine Sol was created in Jackson.
And over the years, it has been an occasional spot for filmmakers to set up and get shots for their movies. See below for a list of some of the most popular:
Movies filmed in Mississippi
Mississippi Masala (1991)
This romance starred Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury as two lovers, one African American and the other Indian, trying to make it in a world where their cultural differences mean everything to those around them. The movie was set in Greenwood with some locations done there as well as in Grenada, Ocean Springs, and Biloxi.
1h 58m | 15+
Cookie’s Fortune (1999)
Director Robert Altman’s 31st film, this comedy had Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, and Patricia Neal in lead roles. When the very wealthy Aunt Cookie commits suicide, it’s up to one dysfunctional family to muck up just about everything that involves it. The story was set in Holly Springs with filming locations also done there.
1 h 58 min | PG-13
The Client (1994)
This legal drama was based upon John Grisham’s 1994 book, his 3rd to be adapted into a movie. This one starred Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Renfro, and Mary-Louise Parker, among others. A young boy becomes a target after he inadvertently gets information linked to the mob. Filming locations included Clinton.
2h | PG-13
Cadillac Records (2008)
This biographical movie discusses the rise of Chess Records in the 1950s and its owner, Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody). Many of the musical roles were played by actual musicians, such as rapper Mos Def as Chuck Berry and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James. The story was set in Chicago with some filming done in Mississippi.
1 h 48 min | R
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
This legal movie was based on the real 1994 trial that involved the white supremacist who murdered Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist, in 1963. Main actors included James Woods, Alec Baldwin, and Whoopi Goldberg. The story was set in Mississippi with filming done in Greenwood, Natchez, Yazoo City, and Jackson.
2 h 10 min | PG-13
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
This dramedy from the Coen brothers had George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson in lead roles. The story is set in late 1930s Mississippi as three escaped convicts search for a buried treasure. Filming locations included D’Lo, Canton, Jackson, Vicksburg, Edwards, Yazoo City, Oxford, Valley Park, and Leland.
1 h 47 min | PG-13
My Dog Skip (2000)
Frankie Muniz, Luke Wilson, Diane Lane, and Kevin Bacon starred in this dramedy about a little boy whose ninth birthday gift is a Jack Russell terrier. It was based on a 1995 book by Willie Morris and details how the animal changed the young boy’s life. Filming was done in Canton, Mendenhall, Jackson, and Yazoo City.
1 h 35 min | PG
Mississippi Burning (1988)
This crime movie was loosely based on a murder investigation that took place in Mississippi in 1964. Willem Dafoe and Gene Hackman starred as FBI agents assigned to investigate the disappearance and subsequent murder of three men involved in civil rights work. Filming locations included Ross Barnett Reservoir, Vicksburg, and Bovina.
2 h 7 min | R
The Ladykillers (2004)
Another Coen brothers comedy, this one was based on a 1955 British movie. Major actors included Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, and Marlon Wayans. When Mrs. Munson figures out what is really going on in her basement that she rented out to a seemingly Southern gentleman, she must be taken care of. Some filming was done in Natchez.
1 h 44 min | R
Get on Up (2014)
This biopic had the late Chadwick Boseman in the role of music legend James Brown. Other actors included Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, and Viola Davis. It details the rise and fall and re-rise of the iconic singer throughout his life. The film was done in Mississippi exclusively, with locations in Natchez and Jackson.
2 h 19 min | 18+
A Time to Kill (1996)
This legal drama was another John Grisham adaptation, this one from his 1989 book. The cast included Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, and Samuel L. Jackson. After an African American girl is brutalized by two white men, her father gets revenge and heads to trial. It was set in Canton with locations done there and in Jackson.
2 h 29 min | R
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1979)
This TV movie was based on Maya Angelou’s 1969 biography. It starred Constance Good, Esther Rolle, Diahann Carroll, and Ruby Dee. It tells of Angelou’s horrific upbringing in Arkansas and the events that led to her being mute for six years of her life. The movie was filmed in Vicksburg.
1h 36m | NR
The Help (2011)
This period drama’s ensemble cast included Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Bryce Dallas Howard. It was based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel and set in the 1960s. A young writer exposes the injustices that African American maids are subject to within white households. Filming was done in Greenwood, Jackson, and Clarksdale.
2 h 26 min | PG-13
Act of Valor (2012)
This action movie starred Roselyn Sánchez, Emilio Rivera, and Nestor Serrano, along with several real-life active-duty Navy SEALS who must thwart a plot to attack the US. Filming was done in Cambodia as well as several cities in the US, including the John C. Stennis Space Center. The film made $81 million despite negative reviews.
1 h 50 min | R
The Chamber (1996)
Another John Grisham adaptation, this one from his 1994 book, had Chris O’Donnell and Gene Hackman in lead roles. Hackman is a KKK member facing imminent execution for a bombing almost thirty years prior, and O’Donnell is the attorney for his case. The film was set in Indianola with filming done there and in Greenwood, Jackson, and Parchman.
1 h 53 min | R
Barb Wire (1996)
This superhero movie was based on a Dark Horse comic series and had Pamela Anderson in the title role. The film is set in the future with the United States having its second civil war. The movie was a failure, costing $9 million to make, but only bringing in $3.5 million at the box office. Some filming was done in Pascagoula.
1 h 38 min | R
The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993)
This dramedy was based in part on the 1884 novel by Mark Twain, and starred Elijah Wood as the title character, with Courtney B. Vance as his companion, Jim. Other costars included Jason Robards and Robbie Coltrane. The film follows their voyage on the Mississippi River. Filming was done on the river as well in Natchez and Washington.
1 h 47 min | PG
The 20th state to enter the union was a big part of the Civil War, with the preservation of the historic site at the Vicksburg National Military Park. They were also a big part of the medical industry, as the world’s first lung transplant and heart transplant were done in Mississippi.
Although it might not be California or New York, it has also been important to the movie industry over the years. And with its abundant resources and natural features, it will probably remain just as important.