Don Graham’s Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies

Since the advent of filmmaking, dozens of Hollywood heartthrobs have lined up to play cowboys in more than 600 films about or made in Texas.

Who can forget Paul Newman’s brash portrayal of a Texas cowboy in “Hud”? Or James Dean’s turn as ranch hand Jett Rink in “Giant”?

Texas looms larges in moviemakers’ imaginations writes English Professor Don Graham in the pocket-sized handbook “State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies” (TCU Press, 2008), but they don’t always get it right.

“For all of our urban skylines and high-tech yuppiedom, we can’t shake our movie-disseminated mythology as a state of cowboys, hicks, and small-town gaucheries,” Graham lamented in the Texas Monthly article “Unreality Bites.”

Graham is the author of numerous books and articles about Texas, including “Cowboys and Cadillacs: How Hollywood Looks at Texas” (1983) and “Lone Star Literature: From the Red River to the Rio Grande” (2003).

In “State Fare,” the Texas literature specialist provides a brief overview of some of the best (and worst) Texas films, including “Red River,” “The Last Picture Show,” “Urban Cowboy,” and “The Alamo.”

From cattle drives to oil wells, lusty schoolmarms and desperados, Hollywood has captured Texas mythology in all of its many forms.

What are some of your favorite movies about Texas?

Lecture Highlights 50th Anniversary of “Exodus” by Leon Uris

Leon Uris’ biographer Ira Nadel, professor of English at the University of British Columbia, visits campus next Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. to discuss the legacy of Uris’ seminal work “Exodus.”

First published by Doubleday in 1958, “Exodus” tells the story of the founding of the state of Israel and became an international publishing phenomenon–it has since been translated into more than 50 languages and was made into a 1960 film starring Paul Newman.

The lecture, “Leon Uris and Exodus: 50 Years Later,” organized by the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, is free and open to the public and will be held in the Protho Theater at the Harry Ransom Center.

Check out the Leon Uris archive at the Harry Ransom Center for more information about Uris’ work and legacy.