It's possible to travel America without leaving your couch, and no, this isn't some excerpt from a 1980s textbook about the power of this thing called "the Internet." We're talking about the power of motion pictures, 32 frames of film passing before a beam of light every second. That's how you get around.

Hollywood has turned its attention on all of these United States at one time or another, focusing on some locations (Los Angeles, New York) more than others (where's the love for North Dakota?). Sometimes a film will be about a particular place even though it was shot elsewhere. But shooting in a place is only one way to get at the truth. Does knowing that What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, which is set in Iowa, was shot in Texas change your perspective on the film? Or do you still associate that particular big, open loneliness with Iowa anyway?

In honor of the fourth of July, we've selected a film to represent each state. We looked for films that spend time in a particular place, that don't hop around too much and try to get at the character of the setting. These are the best movies from each of the 50 states.

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