At-home movie nights will help get you through the pandemic months ahead. Up your stay-at-home game with a Midwest movie, Midwest-made snacks and a Midwest home accessory. Here are three movie night ideas to get you started.

By Amanda E. Doyle
October 23, 2020
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The phrase “movie night” might conjure memories of concession stands, plush seats, babysitters and surround sound. But as fall chills and winter hovers around the corner, we’re predicting at-home movie nights will be a key survival strategy for the pandemic season ahead. Not to worry, though: with a little planning, you can make your “sofa cinema” experience special!

We’ve rounded up a trio of great movies set (and filmed) in the Midwest, along with some regional treats to enjoy. If you’re up to the challenge, you can even surround yourself with some home touches from makers we love. Feel free to mix and match!

Midwest Movie Night #1

The Film: Anatomy of a Murder (2 hr 41 min, unrated) Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, moody black and white. What’s not to love? This 1959 courtroom drama is based on a true story of a murder trial in the UP, written under a pen name by one of the attorneys in the case. It’s been called the “finest pure trial movie ever made.” Michiganders will recognize the locations, including Big Bay, Ishpeming, and Marquette. The first screenings and world premiere were also held in the state.

Anatomy of a Murder
| Credit: By LMPC via Getty Images

The Snacks: Keep it local with La Fiesta tortilla chips and cherry salsa from Cherry Republic; we recommend Cherries on Fire to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Swag: When the testimony begins, ward off the chill with a sumptuous wool lap blanket from Lake Superior Woolen Company: the family-farm collective raises Polypay and Corriedale sheep in the state’s north.

Midwest Movie Night #2

The Film: Columbus (1 hr 40 min, unrated, 2017) This intimate drama unfolds against (and sometimes in) the architectural jewels of Columbus, Indiana, a world-renowned hub of buildings from some of the brightest stars in the modernist movement. As the two lead characters (a visiting Korean man and a hometown woman who can’t seem to leave) share stories of the family dynamics that have them trapped, over winding days and nights, the settings in which they find themselves almost become characters in the story, too.

The Snacks: Albanese might be best-known for 12-flavor gummy bears (with an “A” on the tummy), made in Merrillville, but we are big fans of the seasonal mixes, too: the Autumn Peanut Party variety throws together candy corn, mellowcremes (pumpkins and fall leaves), and jumbo redskin peanuts. Sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy…delicious.

The Swag: Keep your own toes warm and cozy while the actors walk (and walk) through town. For Bare Feet’s sock creations, from Martinsville, range from professional sports logos and your alma mater to wild animals and the ultimate movie-night sock: popcorn-printed socks that actually smell like popcorn!

Midwest Movie Night #3

The Film: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1 hr 33 min, rated R, 1987) This classic “home for the holidays” movie might be just what you need to get in the spirit, whether you’re trying to figure out how to travel safely yourself or you’re settling in for a quarantined season. In any case, Steve Martin’s hilarious, apopletic, (and f-bomb-laden) tirade, directed at a hapless rental car agent in the St. Louis airport, could be the pressure-release valve we all need as the winter looms. His odd couple-partner, John Candy, plays the lovable oaf so well as the pair slogs through Wichita, Stubbville, and Chicago, and in the end, we all remember what’s really important.

Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles
| Credit: Paramount/Getty Images

The Snacks: Classics for a classic: pop up a bucket of Missouri-grown, organic Braggadocio popcorn from the fifth-generation McKaskle Family Farm. Recommended chaser? Perfectly spicy root beer from St. Louis brewer/bottler Fitz’s; if you’re not a root beer fan, try Cardinal Cream soda instead.

The Swag: Where to keep all that delicious popcorn? For individual servings, we like the handmade ceramic bowls by Nathan Falter, at Springfield Pottery. The exclamation point version seems like it would pair well with the travel-induced temper tantrums in the movie.

Exclamation Bowl by Springfield Pottery