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No Hollywood soundstage can compare to the natural backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. The quaint communities and residents (extras!), rich with history themselves, only add to the scenery-as-storytelling motif. Update your queue with these four films that took advantage of the eastern Tennessee locale to create four very different movies.

Movie: The Dollmaker

Released: 1983

Starring: Jane Fonda and Levon Helm

Plot: Gertie Nevels (Fonda), a pioneer woman with five children, leaves her country home in Kentucky to join her husband where he works in Detroit. Along their resettlement process in the projects, setbacks and tragedies attack the struggling family, and only Gertie can save her family in their new home. Based upon the book by Harriet Arnow.

Movie: Blaze

Released: 1989

Starring: Paul Newman and Lolita Davidovich

Plot: In the 1950s, Governor Earl Long (Newman), an aging, frequent visitor of strip joints, falls in love with a young stripper named Blaze Starr. After they move in together, Earl’s political opponents attack his already controversial political program, which includes Black Rights. Earl struggles to keep Blaze, as well as control of Louisiana and his personal reputation.  Based upon the true story chronicled in a book by Blaze Starr.

Movie: Christy

Released: 1994

Starring: Kellie Martin

Plot: A schoolteacher moves to an impoverished Appalachia town called Cutter Gap, in Tennessee. Set in the heart of the Smoky Mountains in 1912, Christy Huddleston does her best to educate the children and make a difference in the community, while trials of love and life attack her on all fronts. Based upon on the best-selling novel by Catherine Marshall.

Movie: A Smoky Mountain Christmas

Released: 1986

Starring: Dolly Parton and Lee Majors

Plot: A country music star (Parton) escapes the big city for her mountain home for the holidays. But the backwoods cabin she rents only brings trouble and adventure. Runaway orphans, a witch, and Christmas Carols make this an Appalachian Christmas to remember!


Even though some of these films don’t take place in Tennessee, the producers and “Big Name” movie stars chose the Great Smoky Mountains location for a reason (could it be the fabulous Gatlinburg cabins??). The unique scenery, indigenous wildlife, and local people showcase the feature film in ways no other place can, piquing the interest of travelers to check out the landscape from their favorite movie.

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