Mountain dialect, culture and identity are revealed by the true experts on Southern Appalachian culture--the people whose families have lived there for generations.




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Credited cast:
Bertie Berleson ...
Gary Carden ...
'Pink' Francis ...
Jim Tom Hedrick ...
Carl Presnell ...
Henry Queen ...
Mary Jane Queen ...
Popcorn Sutton ...
Jonathan Williams ...
Ernest Woods ...


The people of Southern Appalachia tell their own story, revealing the quick wit, good humor, and resilience that sustained them through centuries. Music, stories and candid conversations convey the shared sense of place that defines the mountain people. Written by Hutcheson, Neal

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A unique journey to the heart of Southern Appalachia.








Release Date:

13 February 2004 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$60,000 (estimated)

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


(NTSC Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Followed by The Queen Family (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting Documentary of Appalachian Culture.
18 September 2010 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

In the mid-1700s a wave of Scots-Irish migrants moved to Philadelphia and then inland seeking farmland, the pickings back home being rather slim. But land in Pennsylvania by that time was expensive and the immigrants were driven down the Appalachian Mountains, spreading east and west as they went. They wound up settling in small isolated communities, often in valleys called "hollers." Speech and culture continued to evolve, as language and cultures will, and soon enough what you have are some folks that look very different to those from outside of Appalachia. Soda pop became "dopes." A large rodent became a "boomer." The item that's generally called a "bag" in the East and a "sack" in the West became a "poke" in Appalachia -- as in "a pig in a poke." Pronunciation changed along with the lexicon, and so did the culture itself. By the late 1800s a kind of classic rural mountain subculture had emerged, complete with odd religious practices, bows and arrows and distinctive quilting patterns and idiosyncratic allegiances -- as in the Hatfields and McCoys.

The hard-working mountain people, with their spinning wheels and banjos, were in many ways different from what we think of as "Southerners." There was none of the stereotypical South. No big plantations with slaves and aristocracy. Drinking was acceptable. The "r" was retained in words like "colonel," not dropped as in the Lowland South. Racism was less noticeable because there were, after all, few African-Americans, there never having been much need for slaves in subsistence farming. These were independent yeomen farmers. More than once, during the Civil War, troops were dispatched to mountain areas to put down rebellions.

At any rate -- where was I? Oh, yes, getting carried away, as so often happens these days. Can't squeeze everything in here. Read my article in "Sociology and Social Research" (1989).

The first half hour of this reasonably well-done documentary deals mainly with speech patterns. The second half focuses more broadly on other cultural features. All is told through stories of individuals, mostly elderly, who grew up in the area and acquired the habits that are now disappearing, not too slowly either. Too bad. The folks we get to meet are likable, proud, and intractable. Mostly they subscribe to the notion that we don't change in the face of outside pressure. Never have, never will. But of course they must and will. And they are, whether they realize it or not. Nobody can watch Oprah without being morphed in some way.

It's educational but I don't think it's as well organized, general, or as expensive as "American Tongues," with Polly Holliday as your host. I used to show "Tongues" in a class in language and culture and it was invariably successful.

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