Exploring Northeast Georgia – Summer Nights & Movies under the Stars – Kitty Stratton


Exploring Northeast Georgia

Summer Nights & Movies under the Stars

Kitty Stratton

In the high heat of the summer months along with cool creeks and watermelon, homemade ice-cream and fireflies, I think of cool movie theaters and resting long enough to escape the soaring temperatures.

Have you ever stopped to think how many movies have been made in your own backyard? Not literally, of course, but in our North Georgia mountains. On a quick look on the internet for movies made in Northeast Georgia, the majority have been made in Rabun County. I counted seventeen but there may be more than that.


The Disney movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” released in 1956 was filmed in North Georgia and North Carolina, using the now abandoned Tallulah Falls railway.

This Walt Disney adventure movie was based on a real Great Locomotive Chase that happened in 1862 during the Civil War. Fess Parker starred as James Andrews the leader of a group of Union soldiers. The group led by Parker, go behind Confederate lines disguised in everyday clothing and steal a Confederate train north of Atlanta. The adventure gathers momentum as they drive the locomotive back to the Union army in Tennessee.

The Great Locomotive Chase is a great family movie to watch and sit back and relax with a big bowl of popcorn, watch out for local Northeast Georgia scenery and teach the kids a little history along the way.

Other family movies made locally in the area include the 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, Foxfire. Jessica Tandy won an Emmy Award for her performance in the movie.


Jessica Tandy plays the part of Annie Nations, an older Appalachian woman who has spent her whole life living in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Her husband, Hector, played by Hume Cronyn, although passed away for five years, is still very much in her thoughts.  John Denver, who plays their country music singer son, Dillard Nations, is trying to convince his mother Annie to sell the farm and move to Florida and live with his family. Annie has to decide for herself.

Before Foxfire became a movie it was a play based on the Foxfire books written by Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn. The movie captures forever the timeless plight of the people of Southern Appalachia. Does a rural mountain family keep a family home place or move away in the name of economic progress?  Annie Nation’s decision is heart rending.  Does she stay in her log cabin on the land, in the mountains that she and husband, and generations before them, worked so hard for or does she move away from all that she has ever known and loved?

Other movies filmed in Rabun County, may not be for the whole family to watch.  The 1976 movie, Whiskey Mountain by William Grefe, features a group of motorcyclists on a treasure hunt who are terrorized by a gang of murderous psychopaths.

The 1976 film Grizzly was filmed in Clayton. The movie is about a fifteen foot tall Grizzly bear that creates terror in a National Forest setting. The movie cast had many local residents in supporting roles, including Catherine Rickman, who played one of the victims. Catherine was the daughter of Frank Rickman.

Frank Rickman (1924-2004) played a large part in bringing the movie industry to Rabun County.  For further reading about movies filmed in Rabun County visit the Rabun County Historical Society website http://www.rabunhistory.org  and reference Frank Rickman and the role he played in bringing the movie industry to Rabun County.

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