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STUDY: ‘Badlands’ Most Popular Movie ‘Set’ in South Dakota; ‘Fargo’ Tops North Dakota, Minnesota


(NPN) — With America in the midst of “Awards Season”—Golden Globes, People’s Choice, Grammys and Academy Awards—you might wonder what is the most popular movie shot in South Dakota and the Northern Plains.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, if you guessed actor Kevin Costner’s ode to the untouched prairie, Dances with Wolves, you’d be wrong. And if you guessed suspense director Alfred Hitchcock’s tribute to spies and Mount Rushmore, North by Northwest, you’d also be wrong.

If you guessed Badlands, a 1973 movie based on the 1950s Charles Starkweather (a very skinny Martin Sheen) and Carol Ann Fugate (a very young Sissy Spacek) murder spree in Nebraska, you’d be right. At least according to a recent study on Reddit.

The South Dakota “setting”? Spacek’s character lives in “Fort Dupree, S.D.”

“Most popular” is based on Internet Movie Data Base ( ratings, which might explain some of the results.

The Coen brothers’ dark 1996 comedy, Fargo, is Reddit’s top movie set in North Dakota and Minnesota, though most of the movie takes place in northern Minnesota. A wood chipper also plays an important role.

In Nebraska, current hit Nebraska is ranked as the top film set in Nebraska. In Wyoming, the 1992 Clint Eastwood helmed western, Unforgiven, is the Cowboy State’s top film. And in Montana, the top film set in Big Sky Country is not a movie but a 1989 TV miniseries—but still a western: Lonesome Dove.

While most of the above films are well-known, Iowa’s “top” film is a bit more obscure—1999’s The Straight Story. It is a film about a farmer who drives his tractor—yes, tractor—a long ways to fix his relationship with his sick brother. Why? Because everyone drives a tractor in Iowa.

And one of the main stars? None other than the Northern Plains’ sweetheart, Sissy Spacek.

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