Home Siding: How a Building Material Became a Staple of American Cinema

When we think about homes with siding, we typically envision them set in pristine, middle-class neighborhoods or in the middle of farmlands in the Midwest. One reason for associating these homes with specific settings is that filmmakers have often set heartwarming tales within them. So, let us take a journey through film history to explore the six most effective uses of siding to tell a story.

Wizard of Oz (Fleming and Cukor, 1939)

Our first entry is one of the first U.S. color films, The Wizard of Oz. Taking place in the dustbowl, the film starts in black and white and shows us a run-down barn. By the end of the film, Dorothy finds happiness in the form of a beautiful, fully paneled red barn.

Risky Business (1983)

In one of Tom Cruise’s first starring roles, our hero takes it upon himself to run a business from his parent’s pristine suburban home. Cruise runs the risk of having a Risky Business because no one would ever assume that such a beautiful house could have such questionable parties! No need to worry, peace is restored by the end of the film-at least for the neighbors.

Field of Dreams (Robison, 1989)

Set in Iowa, this movie showcases a two-story home donned in white panels. A movie that drips of nostalgia, the Field of Dreams house became the anchor and backdrop for the display of one of America’s greatest pastimes: baseball.

Jumanji (Johnston, 1995)

This Robin Williams classic tells the tale of two children playing in the attic of a beautiful white Victorian home. The kids find a game that opens up a world of fantasy, though it ultimately splits the house in half. Luckily for the kids-and for the homeowners-they beat the game and restore the house to its previous glory.

Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995)

The next movie on our list is fully animated, but it nevertheless uses this classic look to create a wondrous world where toys come to life. Toy Story looks at what happens to the world of toys when no one is supposed to be watching. The home is center stage and becomes the place where new friends can find common ground.

The Notebook (Cassavetes, 2004)

This entry is a modern-day romantic classic that tells the story of love lost and regained. How exactly does Ryan Gosling win Rachel McAdams’ heart? By doing no less than building her a beautiful, white siding house, which is clearly one of cinema’s greatest romantic gestures ever.

Honorable Mention – The Brady Bunch TV Show (1969 – 1974)

Though not a movie, nobody can forget the house from one of America’s favorite television series, The Brady Bunch. Sporting vertical rather than horizontal paneling, the house became iconic of both the era and of middle-class families.

With so many movies that brought audiences so much joy, we cannot help but think that siding played a role. So, next time you see panels in a movie, remember that they have been an important part of American movies for a very long time.

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