Romance Promo Central is pleased to welcome Lauren Clark to the blog! She is here to share some thoughts on some films that feature Southern Belles, and share some information about her new book – Dancing Naked in Dixie. If this book sounds like something that you would be interested in, pick up a copy using the buy links at the bottom of this post!
~ Best ‘Recent’ Films that feature Southern Belles ~
By Lauren Clark
Eufaula, Alabama, the setting of Dancing Naked in Dixie, has its share of lovely and well-mannered Southern belles. On her assignment to preview the Pilgrimage, Julia Sullivan meets many of these women–and gets a taste of life in beautiful and historical lower Alabama.
If you enjoy Dancing Naked in Dixie, there are many classic movies that depict old-time Southern life (like Gone with the Wind) — but if you’re looking for a more ‘modern’ experience, here are my Top Ten picks for recent films that feature true Southern belles. Enjoy!
1. Steel Magnolias (1989) If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s definitely one to watch … and bring tissues! The film stars Julia Roberts and Sally Fields in a story of a southern wedding and life afterwards. Shelby (Roberts) is very much a modern-day Southern Belle. The events surrounding the wedding, scenes in the beauty parlor, and with neighbors and friends are true-to-life.
2. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Flagg’s novel weaves together the past and the present through the blossoming friendship between middle-aged housewife Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode, who lives in a nursing home. Every week Evelyn visits Ninny, who tells her stories of her youth in Whistle Stop, Alabama.
3. Forrest Gump (1994) An epic film based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom. The film starred Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise and depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a naïve native of Alabama who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century.
4. Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) This American drama film was directed by Rob Reiner and starred Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, and James Woods. The plot is based on the true story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, the white supremacist accused of the 1963 assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) is atmospheric and Southern Gothic in tone, depicting a wide range of eccentric Savannah personalities. The story surrounds the killing of Danny Hansford, a local male prostitute. Respected antique dealer Jim Williams is accused of the murder, said to be a result of a lovers’ quarrel. The death took place in Williams’ home, originally built by an ancestor of songwriter and Savannah native Johnny Mercer.
6. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) During the Great Depression, Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron) tries to recover her family’s lost fortune by holding an exhibition match between the best golfers of the era, with a grand prize of $10,000. But Adele needs someone to generate local interest, so she asks her estranged love, Junuh, to play. Junuh is approached by a mysterious traveler who identifies himself as Bagger Vance (Will Smith), a caddy who helps Junuh to come to grips with his personal demons.
7. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) The film opens in 1937 Louisiana and follows four little girls who invent a secret order called the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The film then moves to New York City in 2002, where Viviane Walker’s daughter, playwright Siddalee (Sandra Bullock), gives an interview with a reporter from Time, mentioning her unhappy childhood as a major source of inspiration for her work. The reporter sensationalizes Sidda’s complaint, implying abuse and deep, dark family secrets.
8. Sweet Home Alabama (2002) The film opens on an Alabama beach with two children chasing each other. The characters, Melanie Smooter and Jake Perry, kiss, and Jake says they will be married one day. The movie shifts to present day, in which Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) has changed her last name to Carmichael. She now is a successful fashion designer in New York City. After becoming engaged to the mayor’s son, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), Melanie announces that she has to go back home alone to Alabama to tell her parents. She has not told Andrew that she is still married to Jake (Josh Lucas).
9. Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) India Opal Buloni is a 10-year-old girl who encounters a scruffy dog wreaking havoc in the Winn-Dixie supermarket. She claims the dog is hers to save it from going to the pound and names it Winn-Dixie. Opal also befriends the very wealthy librarian and Southern belle Miss Franny Block, who shares great stories about her past, including a tale about her great-grandfather, whose family members died while he fought for the South in the Civil War.
10. The Secret Life of Bees (2008) Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the tale of Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), a 14-year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother Deborah Owens. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father T-Ray, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters —Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping.
What do you think about this “Top Ten?” Do you have a favorite movie that features a Southern belle?
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she’s offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia’s story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
The Best Butts in Alabama, the huge billboard above my head brags. A robust pink pig, dressed in blue overalls and a cowboy hat, winks down at me. Next to the hog’s turned up nose, royal blue letters read ‘Phil’s Bar-B-Q.’
Phil certainly knows how to make a first impression. As does Mother Nature.
The sunshine beats down on my shoulder through the window. Is it always this muggy in December? I swipe at my forehead with the back of my hand and do quick surveillance.
Where is the historic, elegant city I was promised in the letter? There is a normal-looking church across the street, a run-of-the-mill real estate business to my right, and a tiny hole-in-the-wall place called The Donut King, which seems to be doing ten times more business than the Winn-Dixie grocery store I just passed.
So far, all I see of Eufaula, Alabama is more in-your-face commercial than traveler chic. Of course, I’m not in the best frame of mind to become one with my surroundings.
After a lousy Thursday morning of sulking and a rushed packing job, I sent an RSVP with regrets for the fundraiser, gave away my tickets to the Met, left a voice mail for Andrew, and changed my ticket to an earlier departure.
Hours later, after fighting through JFK security, surviving the cramped flight to Atlanta, I spent the night in Buckhead, Georgia, picked up my enormous rented SUV this morning (it was either that or a red minivan), and began driving the three-and-a-half hours to reach my pinhole-on-a-map destination.
All to save my job.
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.
Lauren can be found:
Her books can be found on Amazon
Her book is available at Amazon