Find Montana in these 12 movies available on Netflix Streaming
At first glance, Netflix Streaming seems like such an incredible invention.
If you have high-speed internet and a decent computer, you can stream movies online and watch them whenever you want and as many as you want without ever having to pay any late fees.
That’s the central conceit, anyhow.
Keep that in mind as I continue with the rest of this article. It’ll make sense in a minute.
One thing we native Montanans take pride in is our state’s natural beauty. If it’s Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, the Mighty Missouri River, Beartooth Pass, the Lewis and Clark Caverns or one of the many other wonderful State Parks.
We also love seeing our state on film. It only makes sense that if you love where you’re from, you’re proud to see people make a film with that place as the backdrop, or, as a central part of the story.
With technology what it is today, Netflix Streaming seems to be a perfect place to find all of the films that have been shot in our great state, right?
Well, not quite.
There ARE films that have been shot in Montana on Netflix Streaming. More than 10 if my research proves correct. Which, isn’t too bad.
Below you can find the list of Montana films available on the streaming service. There are some great ones, there are some decent ones, and there are some plain ridiculous ones.
As I was compiling this list, however, I kept asking myself, “Why isn’t THIS movie on here? How could they possibly leave out THIS great film?” Films such as “Legends of the Fall” “Iron Ridge” “The Horse Whisperer” “River Wild” “True Colors” “A Thousand Pieces of Gold” or “The Winds of Autumn,” among others.
And, of course the answer is that the actual number of films that are streaming on Netflix is still incredibly small compared to those at your local movie shop, more than likely.
But, if you’re looking to spend a nice evening inside as the weather starts to get colder, and you want to watch some movies made in Montana, check out the following that are indeed available streaming.
However, if you really want to see which ones you could watch through some digging, either at your local video store, the library, or other, ahem, less reputable techniques, then please check out this great list compiled by the Montana Film Office that shows all of the notable movies that have ever been shot in our state.
So, without further ado, here are the 11 Montana movies (and one miniseries) you can watch right now on Netflix Streaming.
12) Beethoven’s 2nd (1993)
Of all the movies shot in Montana NOT on Netflix Streaming, one of the worst movies ever made here makes the list. Technically only parts of the film were shot in Montana, the Parks scenes were shot in Glacier, but, there were film crews shooting here, so it makes the cut.
Beethoven’s 2nd, if you’re not familiar, is the sequel to the family comedy “Beethoven” in which a giant St. Bernard pooch takes over a family’s life and hilarity ensues. And there’s LOTS of Charles Grodin. Who is named George Newton. Because apparently the filmmakers thought if they named their characters after smart people, the hi-jinks wouldn’t seem so dumb. Or something, who knows.
This sequel includes more of that calamity from the first film, and frankly I find it a bit offensive that they chose to name the dog after one of the greatest classical composers of all time, and then also had the audacity to name the films in the same style as Beethoven’s works. But, that’s a discussion for another time. If you want to see Glacier Park in a few brief scenes, check this one out.
11) Pretty Ugly People (2008)
This train-wreck of a film has a 27 percent approval rating from users on Rotten Tomatoes. It stars Melissa McCarthy, Missi Pyle, Josh Hopkins and Octavia Spencer. The film was shot partly in East Glacier and partly in Missoula, where 150 locals were used as extras.
The story involves, “Longtime friendships put to the ultimate test when a dying woman summons her best friends from college into the wilderness for a four-day camping trip, and everyone quickly discovers that they haven’t exactly been told the whole truth about her current condition. Lucy (Missi Pyle) has always been obese, and now that her health has taken a turn for the worse, she wants to spend her last days with the estranged college social group that helped her through one of the most difficult periods of her entire life. Upon learning that Lucy is on her deathbed, her loyal friends all rush to Montana in order to be by her side for one last weekend together. … As tensions begin to rise Lucy realizes that the people standing before her today simply aren’t the same people whom she remembered so fondly from college.”
So that’s that.
In 2009, the LA Weekly did a short review of the film, which they stated, “At first, Lucy seems so manic and crazed that the viewer might suspect this will turn into a slasher movie. Later, when it becomes clear just how annoying and unlikable each character is, you’ll pray that it turns into a slasher movie. Alas, writer-director Tate Taylor instead seems to be reaching for a Gen-X take on The Big Chill, sans high-powered soundtrack, insightful script or skilled actors.”
However, if you can get past the awful script, you do get to see a few cool Montana shots in not one but two locations. If that’s your thing.
10) Cold Feet (1989)
If you’re a fan of Tom Waits, you might like this movie. If you’ve either never heard of him, or you simply don’t care for him, don’t expect much with this one.
According to IMDB, Cold Feet is a story about, “A psycho-killer with mommy issues, a charming crooked cowboy and their girl who steal some jewels. The cowboy decides not to share and goes on the run with the loot. A crazy chase across the country between former partners in crime begins.”
There’s also lots of Montana here. It probably helps that the film was written by two Livingston natives, Tom McGuane and Jim Harrison. Both of whom have written many works of fiction, poetry and essays.
Much of the scenery is shot around Livingston and the Paradise Valley. So, even as you’re grimacing at the cheesy 80s jokes, which there are many, you can at least take in the beautiful backdrops.
9) Shooter (2007)
This action flick starring Mark Wahlberg is, according to IMDB, about, “a marksman living in exile is coaxed back into action after learning of a plot to kill the President.”
In 2007, Richard Roeper wrote about the film, saying, “It’s one of those conspiracy thrillers that keeps on asking you to take a leap of faith, until you get tired of leaping and you just start laughing in all the wrong places.”
It’s a pretty ho-hum action film in my opinion, with not much to separate it from the thousands of others that have been made over the years.
This film’s connection to Montana is a little different in that it wasn’t shot in Montana at all, but rather is set in a fictionalized version of Bozeman.
In one scene, Wahlberg is on a highway overpass somewhere outside of this version of Bozeman, and one of the main bad guys portrays a fictional Montana Senator. The log cabin that Wahlberg destroys toward the end is also located somewhere near “Bozeman.” The movie actually was shot in British Columbia, however, but we think it counts, nonetheless.
8) Dog Pound (2010)
This dark film features, “three juvenile delinquents are sentenced to a correctional facility where they encounter gang violence, death, and harassment from staff and other inmates.”
The director cast the film with many actual inmates, many of whom are back in incarceration. And, like Shooter, this film is set in Montana in name only.
The movie takes place at the Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center in Montana, although there has never been any real correctional center with that name.
So, it appears that this one makes the list on a mere technicality more than anything.
7) Far and Away (1992)
This Ron Howard-directed film actually is a decent movie to watch. It stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and involves a young man (Cruise) leaving Ireland with his landlord’s daughter after getting into some hot water with her father. Their goal is to buy land at the big land-giveaway in Oklahoma circa 1893.
Much of the movie was shot in Ireland, but the scene featuring the Oklahoma Land Rush itself was shot on a ranch outside of Billings.
The scene took months to prepare for, with hundreds of horses and people on set to film the scene, which required the crew to build a self-contained city with tents, courthouses, corrals and kitchens, among other things.
The recreation ended up involving 800 extras, 400 horses and 200 wagons. Also of note, the boxing scenes were filmed in the renovated train station in Billings and the abandoned Price Club was used as a factory to produce rubber chickens used in the movie and as a soundstage for the brothel, which was built inside.
And so yes, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Ron Howard all were in Montana during the filming of these scenes.
6) Jimmy P (2013)
One of the newer films on this list, Jimmy P is a film starring Benicio Del Toro as Jimmy Picard, a Blackfoot Native American who returns to Montana after World War II after suffering debilitating symptoms. The movie is based on George Devereux’s book “Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.”
RogerEbert.com calls the movie, “The most psychologically complex screen portrait of a Native American character in at least twenty years, probably more.”
The film receivd a nomination for the 2013 Palm d’Or and in January received three nominations at the 39th Cesar Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
As for the Montana connections, the opening scenes were shot in Browning and East Glacier. 120 members or descendants of the Blackfeet Tribe were used in the production and several University of Montana professors were cast as extras.
This one’s worth watching even if you’re not looking for Montana landscapes, but even more so if you are.
5) Buck (2011)
One of only two documentaries on this list, “Buck” looks at the life of renowned ‘horse whisperer’ Buck Brannaman, who recovered from years of child abuse to become an expert in the interactions between horses and people.
Brannaman also inspired the character of “Tom Booker” in the Nicholas Evans novel The Horse Whisperer. So, even if The Horse Whisperer isn’t available on Netflix Streaming, you can at least watch the documentary about the real Montanan who was behind the movie.
4) The Untouchables (1987)
Now, I almost didn’t include this one on the list. Because, if you’ve seen the Untouchables, you know that 99 percent of the film is set in Chicago. However, there IS one scene which shows Montana.
The shootout with the rum-runners is set on Hardy Bridge near Great Falls. It is quite a massive scene with dramatic music in the background and a slow pan of the mountains before showing the horse-mounted runners and Kevin Costner’s character saying “Let’s take the fight to them, gentlemen.”
If this scene wasn’t so bad-ass, I might have not included it on the list. Plus, The Untouchables is just a great movie in general, so it’s pretty cool that northcentral Montana has a small claim to it’s creation.
3) Bridegroom (2013)
So, we’ve made the decision to bend the rules a bit with this one. Bridegroom technically isn’t set in Montana, nor does it talk about Montana all that much. But, the main person in this documentary, Shane Bitney Crone, spent a good portion of his life in Kalispell.
The flim is a real tearjerker, and if you haven’t seen it yet you should check it out.
Inspired by Bitney Crone’s viral YouTube Video titled “It Could Happen to You,” this documentary follows Bitney Crone and his lover Tom Bridegroom. Their relationship ended tragically when Tom fell off the side of a roof and died. After his death, Bitney Crone was almost cut out of Bridegroom’s life entirely because the two were not given the right to marry, and Bridegroom’s family did not approve of their son’s homosexuality.
It’s a poignant, chilling look at marriage equality through the eyes of someone without legal protections keeping him from being shut out and ostracized.
2) Lonesome Dove (1989)
Again, this isn’t ENTIRELY a movie, but instead a mini-series.
I remember watching this four-episode magnum opus about the trek two former Texas rangers took to move their cattle from the Lone Star State to Montana.
There is literally nothing bad that I can say about this story, which is a big reason why it’s so high on this list. Starring Robert Duvall as Augustus McCrae, Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow F. Call, Danny Glover as Joshua Deets, and Diane Lane as Lorena Wood, Lonesome Dove has come to represent the Montana way of life, for better or worse, by thousands of people.
While this also might be behind people’s incorrect assumptions about how Montana does not have paved streets, or how everyone rides a horse and there is no running water, you can’t fault this masterpiece of storytelling for any of that. The fact that it’s seeped into everyday culture the way it has speaks to the influence it’s had on Montana.
I also loved Return to Lonesome Dove, however Netflix Streaming doesn’t have it yet. For some weird reason.
Anyhow, I can’t say enough good things about this show, and it might have been number one on this list, except for the fact that…
1) A River Runs Through It (1992)
This might be one of my favorite movies ever. Just typing the film’s name gave me chills as I remembered watching it for the first time as a kid.
I’ve probably seen it at least 100 times since then, and it’s always just as good as the first time.
I really think if you call yourself a Montanan, you need to see this movie. It’s got drama, it’s got comedy, it’s got a gripping story, and lots and lots of great Montana imagery.
Plus, it was Brad Pitt’s first movie. There’s not much more that needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyhow.
The extensive fishing scenes are shot in Paradise Valley along the Yellowstone River, on the Gallatin River and south of Big Timber on the Boulder River.
If one wanted to find a fault in the movie, it’s the fact that the Blackfoot River is never actually shown, even though it’s where a good chunk of the story takes place.
When director Robert Redford came to Montana to film the movie, however, the Blackfoot was both too polluted and overly populated, so an alternative was needed.
None of that matters too much, however, as the whole movie is still the greatest representation of Montana ever created, in my opinion.
It also has one of the greatest closing lines to a book or movie.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The River was cut by the world’s greatest flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
Such a magnificent piece of writing. If you haven’t read the book by Norman MacLean, I recommend you do that, as well.