Do you realize that many of our "All American" movies were actually filmed at foreign movie locations? It's one of those things we usually don't think about until we're randomly channel-surfing and stumble across a familiar façade by accident. What's amazing, of course, is whenever we recognize a particular landscape or building that filmmakers might want to have us believe is actually somewhere else. Since the birth of filmmaking at the turn of the 20th century, filmmakers have discovered the economic advantage of shooting portions of their scripts on existing properties rather than going to the expense of building a set for every single scene.
Likewise, they've learned that foreign countries can often be more accommodating than Hollywood in providing access to unique locales as well as furnishing crew members and extras for a production. Many of the outdoor scenes in the Civil War romance Cold Mountain, for instance, were shot about as far from the original battleground as possible; specifically, the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.
Here's a look at some other exotic foreign movie locations that contribute to the reason we call it "movie magic."
Canada's natural beauty and architectural diversity make it a popular filming ground for a number of movies whose settings are supposedly in the United States. Among the list of hits with locales that look as if they were all shot within American borders are Jumanji, Roxanne, Look Who's Talking, and Legends of the Fall (the latter pretended to be set in the wide open spaces of Montana).
Around the World with Bond, James Bond
Agent 007, of course, was certainly no homebody when it came to thwarting evil, carousing with beautiful women, and dropping into international bars (all of which not only knew his name but exactly what kind of drink he liked). We hope he was able to keep all of his frequent flyer miles for his stints in the following countries: For Your Eyes Only, You Only Live Twice, Never Say Never Again (The Bahamas); The Spy Who Loved Me (Egypt); From Russia With Love (Italy); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Switzerland); The World Is Not Enough (Turkey); A View to a Kill (Iceland), Man With the Golden Gun (Hong Kong).
There'll Always Be an England
You wouldn't think that Murder By Death (a comedy by Neil Simon), Shakespeare in Love and Alien would have anything in common. They do, however; all three were shot at studios in Berkshire, Great Britain. Buckinghamshire provided a backdrop for Superman II and Superman IV as well as Brazil. Over in Cornwall, the Seward Asylum featured in Dracula is actually the King Arthur Castle Hotel (currently owned by Scientologists) and overlooking the Arthurian ruins of Tintagel. Ever wonder where Indiana Jones was teaching those university classes of his? That would be the Rickmansworth Masonic School in Hertfordshire. And then there's London, elegant turf to such works as Notting Hill, Alfie, Sliding Doors, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Wilde, Eyes Wide Shut and A Fish Called Wanda.
Meanwhile, in Scotland
Back in 1994, a friend and I found ourselves accidentally traveling in the wake of three production companies that were filming, specifically, Braveheart, Rob Roy, and a Ted Danson made-for-TV movie about the Loch Ness monster. Although the last of these three was certainly no chart-topper, it's amusing to look back and recall that we were dining at one of the restaurants overlooking the loch when the film company staged an explosion of one of the boats on the water. The wait staff had all been briefed about what time it would take place; they opted not to share it with anyone just to see the reaction of the guests. Given the current state of the world and the fears of terrorism, such omission would never occur now. The breathtaking highlands have also found their way into Hamlet, Highlander, Mary, Queen of Scots, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mrs. Brown, Local Hero, and Kidnapped.
Island Hopping Foreign Movie Locations
In Cast Away, a Fed Ex employee played by Tom Hanks is forced into a reclusive existence somewhere in the middle of nowhere. His journey, however, includes stopovers in Moscow, Memphis, Los Angeles, Texas, the Fiji Islands, and the Philippines.
South of the Border
In Romancing the Stone, romance novelist Joan Wilder takes off for Colombia to rescue her kidnapped sister; her destination was actually located a little closer to home: Mexico. Portions of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were shot there, too, along with Three Kings, Titanic, The Magnificent Seven, and The Lady from Shanghai. Even the Leo DiCaprio/Claire Daines version of Romeo and Juliet parked the Capulet family in Mexico City's Castillo de Chapultepec and the Montague clan over in Veracruz.
Clint Eastwood was a relative unknown when director Sergio Leone became enamored enough of the rugged American frontier to want to jump on the bandwagon of the "spaghetti western" craze. Leone also didn't have to come out west to capture his cinematic vision: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly were all shot in Spain. Dr. Zhivago, Conan the Barbarian, Lawrence of Arabia, and Patton had scenes filmed there as well.
For More Information About Foreign Movie Locations
Curious about the shooting locale of some of your favorite movies? If you pay a visit to Internet Movie Data Base, the left hand column has a link called Filming Locations.