Texas Movies: 15 Best Movies Set in Texas

Texas is a large state with a culture and history all its own. Whether it’s the rolling hills and rough terrain of west Texas, the beautiful plains of north Texas, or the coastal regions of Texas, there is beauty to be found in every landscape–and that beauty can be found across the enormous variety of movies set in Texas

While Texas is popularly thought of as the land of cowboys and oil rigs, these Texas movies will inspire your imagination and possibly a trip across the state.  

people wearing cowboy boots and western clothes dancing on a wooden floor in a texas dance hall

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Cowboy & Western Texas Movies

Lonesome Dove

One of the most iconic Texas movies, Lonesome Dove is set at the beginning of the era of cattle drives. Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall lead an outstanding cast of characters in this dramatization of the perils of the old west.

From south Texas north to Montana, the two former Texas Rangers and their crew battle the elements and their pasts as they forge a new life in Montana.

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No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men stars Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. The plot of this movie takes the viewer through the beautiful terrain of west Texas.

The multi-tiered plot follows a man who happens across drug money, the various parties in pursuit of the money, and the inevitable shoutout that reminds the reader of the old west.  

View of Big Bend National Park from above with dramatic hills and rocky landscape, one of the best road trips from Austin

Urban Cowboy

Starring a young John Travolta, this is a movie based on the life of a young oil worker and his wife, a waitress at a local bar. The plot is set in 1970s Houston.

Travolta’s character loses his wife in a fit of temper. After hooking up with a wealthy city girl, Travolta teams with his uncle to become a skilled mechanical bull rider in order to go after the notoriety and prize money of a local contest at the bar.

Still in love with his wife, he plots to woo her back after she has become involved in a violent relationship with another man.

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John Wayne Westerns

Big Jake

One of the last John Wayne classic western films set in Texas, this movie features the character of Jacob McCandles, otherwise known as Big Jake. Although estranged from his wife and children, he reunited with his grown sons to track and rescue his kidnapped grandson.

Full of the classic lines and gunfights of the time, it is a heartwarming movie that will have you cheering on the good guys to the end.

3 men on horseback riding into an orange sunset, a common sight in western movies about texas

The Alamo (1960s)

John Wayne plays the hero, Davy Crockett, in this historical movie about Texas that tells the epic story of the Battle of the Alamo.

The Alamo Mission, situated near San Antonio, is being fortified by the Texians preparing to fight Mexican General and President, Santa Anna. Crockett and a group of Tennesseans arrive to aid the valiant defenders in their fight for freedom.

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The historical characters of James Bowie and William B. Travis set the stage for the battle which helped buy time for the fledgling Texian army.

The massacre at the Alamo goes down in history as a battle cry for justice, against tyranny, and the ultimate sacrifice for the dream that becomes Texas.

The front facade of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas as seen from the ridge side of the building

Rio Bravo

For this movie about Texas, Dean Martin teams up with John Wayne, who plays a sheriff in the town of Rio Bravo, Texas.

The plot centers around the conflict between the sheriff and a wealthy rancher whose brother has been arrested for murder.

The only way to ensure a trail for the accused is to hold off the rancher’s hired guns.

This movie was selected to be part of the National Film Registry in 2014.

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Red River

This movie follows the first cattle drives along what would become the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas. John Wayne plays the character of Thomas Dunson, a hard man who adopted an orphan when he lost his lady love in an Indian raid.

Settling in Texas, Dunson built a cattle empire over the next two decades. The growth of the railroads and the selling price of beef encourage him and his men to risk the long cattle drive to Kansas, in hopes of cashing in on soaring beef prices.

Personalities clash while the men fend off Indians and cattle wrestlers along the route. 

man on horseback driving a herd of cattle in west texas, a common sight in western texas movies

Texas Movies About Space and NASA

Apollo 13

This recreation of the historical Apollo 13 mission takes place with four astronauts on a mission to the moon and the mission control officers in Houston, Texas tasked with getting the crew home safely.

The ups and downs of the daily struggle for survival in their damaged spaceship become more stressful as one of the Apollo 13 crewmates becomes ill in space.

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The effort to bring the astronauts home is in the hands of one of their former crewmates who was left behind due to medical reasons. This selfless former crewmate, played by Gary Sinise, is able to find the solution to bring home the damaged ship and its passengers.

The lead astronaut, Jim Lovell, is played by Tom Hanks. Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Ed Harris are part of the star-studded cast of astronauts who recreate this unforgettable trip in American aerospace history.  

view of earth from the moon. there are several movies about space that are also movies set in texas

Space Cowboys

This is a wonderful star-studded comedy featuring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner.

The premise of the movie is a second chance at space being given to four old men as part of the penance or blackmail from their former boss who denied them the opportunity to go to space decades before.

As the men, now in their sixties, try to become the oldest men in space, their antics and comradery create an engaging and lively movie plot.

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Military Movies Set in Texas

Alamo (2004)

The Battle of the Alamo is an epic moment in Texas History. By fortifying the Alamo and resisting Santa Anna’s overwhelming military strength, the defenders of the Alamo help buy time for Sam Houston’s Texian Army to organize and train.

This movie brings the characters and story to life. Billy Bob Thorton plays David Crockett, the former Tennessean statesman turned adventurer, and Dennis Quaid portrays General Sam Houston.

The movie uses flashbacks to help build the characters and complexity of the situation. The Battle of the Alamo is not the end, and this movie brings victory for the Texians at San Jacinto as it closes the story of the Texas Revolution.

Front facade of the Alamo on a sunny day, one of the best things to see during a long weekend in San Antonio TX

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper portrays the main character, Chris Kyle, and the film is directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie takes you through his start in the military and the development of his marksmanship and legacy as a sniper.

Kyle does four tours in the Middle East before returning home and trying to rebuild his life with his wife and children. Viewers see flashbacks to his military experiences as Kyle tries to reconcile his actions and come to terms with his new civilian life.

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Haunted by failures and the men lost under his command, Kyle participates in counseling through the Veteran’s Affairs services. His counselor helps him find his new mission, providing support for other wounded veterans.

This is a moving film that helps shed light on the challenges returning veterans face and the organizations which provide support for the veterans and their families.

sniper in silhouette set against a orange sunset

Sports Movies About Texas

Friday Night Lights

Set in Odessa, Texas, this film brings to life the dedication to local sports teams so prevalent in small-town Texas.

The story in this film follows the Permian High School football team through a tumultuous year which sees the early injury of their star runner and the second-string running back.

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As Permian fights back through its season to tie for a playoff spot, the coach, played by Billy Bob Thorton, and players must battle their inner demons and self-doubt.

As the team powers through the playoff season, the film culminates in the state championship game between Permian and Dallas Carter High School.

This story takes the viewer through the ups and downs of sports and shows how small-town communities rally around their school teams.

stadium lights over a sunset in texas, similar to one of the best texas tv shows friday night lights

The Rookie

Starring Dennis Quaid, this movie takes the viewer through the lifelong love of baseball held since childhood by Jim Morris.

All grown up, married, and teaching science in Big Lake, Texas, this high school baseball coach struggles with his role in life and with developing his school’s baseball team.

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As the players develop and become better, they challenge their teacher to follow his dreams. He makes a deal to try out for professional baseball if they win district.

And win district they did.

What started out as a motivational tool for his students becomes the moment that will eventually propel him into the Major Leagues.

baseball set on the field, reminiscent of the rookie, one of the most famous texas movies

Heartwarming Movies Set in Texas

Hope Floats

Set in Smithville, Texas, this movie stars Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. Bullock plays a single mom, recent divorcee who has returned to her hometown after her husband’s affair with her best friend is publicly outed on national television.

As Bullock’s character struggles to find herself and build a new life, she resists the burgeoning relationship with Connick’s character.

Coming into conflict with her mother and her past, Bullock’s character finally allows herself to open up and accept her feelings for Connick after her mother’s death. 

red brick general store with blue historic truck parked out front in smithville tx

Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Filmed in 1982, this movie stars Dolly Parton as Miss Mona, the head lady of the Chicken Ranch brothel near Gilbert, Texas, just outside of La Grange. Her main love interest is the local sheriff, played by Burt Reynolds.

Everything is peaceful in the town, with the local whorehouse being a local supporter in the community until a big city TV preacher decides to focus the limelight on what he considered the appalling situation of a brothel being actively run in Texas.

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With the media swarming, the situation comes to a head as the preacher and reporters break into the Chicken Ranch and film the startled men and women.

The movie is filled with catchy songs and musical numbers, along with the edgy tension of unrequited love between the sheriff and Miss Mona. 

fayette county courthouse in courthouse square, one of the best things to do in la grange texas


This is a story about a teenage girl named Willowdean, played by Danielle MacDonald, who is on a path of self-recognition.

After the death of her aunt, Willowdean’s troubled relationship with her beauty pageant mother, played by Jennifer Aniston, creates a determination to participate in the pageant her mother values, as a way to honor her beloved aunt.

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As Willowdean struggles through her personal insecurities about her weight and her love interest, she gathers other outcasts together in the pageant.

This is a beautiful, untraditional coming of age story that shows the value of being unique, strong, and open-minded. 

photo of friday night lights and of a cattle drive, black and red text on a white background reads "15 unforgettable texas movies"

4 thoughts on “Texas Movies: 15 Best Movies Set in Texas”

  1. What about “Seven Days In Utopia (Tx)”. A Robert Duvall movie. Utopia is just like it looks in the movie.

  2. I’ve seen all those listed but Second-hand Lions is still my favorite (and I know Smithville, Hope Floats, very well—it’s my second favorite).
    I knew characters like those in “Lions” and still chuckle when I think about them.


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