' ' Cinema Romantico: Top 5 Movie Locations I Wish I Could Visit

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top 5 Movie Locations I Wish I Could Visit

Recently it was unveiled that photographer Rä di Martino had, by chance, wound up searching for and tracking down the long-ago sets used by George Lucas for the Tatooine scenes of his legendary original "Star Wars" film. Well, this got me to thinking.

It got me to thinking about how the righteous hosts of Filmspotting, Adam Kempenar and Josh Larson, the Rob Gordons of Top 5 Movie Lists, a couple months back unveiled the Top 5 Movie Locations They Wished They Could Visit.

Granted, I am no amateur when it comes to actually visiting movie locations. Everyone knows I took a pilgrimage to North Carolina to pay respect to the filming locations for "Last of the Mohicans" and on the way there I stopped to pay respect to Elizabethtown (because of "Elizabethtown") and when I visited my sister in Maine I made sure we took a detour to Bethel and Andover to pay respect to the filming locations for "The Myth of Fingerprints" and when my sister lived in Oregon I made sure we spent a day in Eugene to pay respect to the filming locations of "Without Limits."

Of course, all those are real locations that actually exist and the point of Filmspotting's list was to name make-believe places that solely exist within the movie itself that you wish you could go visit. Ah! Well, that's different!

Top 5 Movie Locations I Wish I Could Visit

5. Rick’s Café Americain, "Casablanca." Tonight they’ll be at Rick’s. Everybody goes to Rick’s. Except for me. I wanna go to Rick’s too! I do, I do, I do!!!

4. Speedboat, Gulf of Mexico, “Miami Vice.” Remember in Michael Mann's exorbitantly underrated update on the 80's TV show when Colin Farrell & Gong Li jet off to Cuba for mojitos and salsa (dancing) via speedboat? Sure, you do. I admit this location is a little difficult to pin down. I also admit this location is very much real but... Well, I could rent a speedboat. Sure. And I could pilot that speedboat from Miami to Havana, Cuba with a fetching lady to imbibe mojitos and dance salsa. But, of course, I couldn’t really do any of this. I would never make it to Havana for the mojitos because the Cubans would lock me up. If by some miracle I did make it to Havana I could never possibly dance the salsa (could we instead contort very enthusiastically but very, very badly to Kylie Minogue?). Of course, I would never get anywhere near Havana because if I tried to pilot a speedboat it would totally capsize in about 27 seconds, never mind the fact that I could never pull off Colin Farrell’s suit or convince a fetching lady to join me in the first place. And all that is why if I could be magically transported to movie location with the movie gods covering my every move I would be transported to a speedboat with a Malin Akerman-esque lady jetting off to Havana for mojitos and a salsa.

3. The Hit Pit, “Million Dollar Baby.” Never mind that Frankie Dunn would probably take one look at me, grimace and banish me to the corner where Danger is shadow boxing to pitiful effect, I would like so much just to spend a day – just an afternoon even – at his hole-in-the-wall gym. I would sit back, breathe in that disgusting aroma of sweat, gym socks, fresh blood and cheap bleach, listen to the sounds of speed bags and skipping rope. Besides, visiting Maggie Fitzgerald’s home gym would be for me like a baseball aficionado getting to set foot in the home locker room of old Yankee Stadium.

2. New York City, “The Royal Tenenbaums.” As much as Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” romanticizes that city all out of proportion, it is still showing us the real Manhattan – as in, places that actually exist. Wes Anderson’s “Royal Tenenbaums”, on the other hand, while technically being set in Manhattan envisions it is as a mythical Manhattan, a place that only exists in our imaginations. It is set on streets and at places that while being located in New York do not actually exist – such as The Public Archives and the Lindbergh Palace Hotel. This is what sets it apart. I think my favorite place to visit in NYC every time I go is The Algonquin Hotel partially because just being inside it feels like New York in the 30’s and 40’s. And really, that’s the New York I want to visit – the New York of the 30’s and 40’s. And the New York of “The Royal Tenenbaums” feels like the New York of the 30’s and 40’s but still with the amenities required by the modern unmanly man.

1. Nelson, Washington, “Roxanne.” So in the wake of the esteemed Roger Ebert’s passing I was, of course, perusing various Ebert-related bits out there on the world wide interwebs and stumbled across a Youtube video of he and the late Gene Siskel discussing “Roxanne”, one of my all-time favorites, on an episode of At the Movies. (Both of them loved the movie so much Ebert actually concluded their review by saying “We can’t even have an argument.” Awesome.) And a line of Siskel’s struck me like a bolt of Midwest lightning in May. He termed Steve Martin’s lead performance as being akin to “effervescent ginger ale.” Well, it is! It is effervescent ginger ale! But the whole movie is effervescent ginger ale and its setting – the city of Nelson, Washington – is effervescent ginger ale! Not just the scenery, mind you, which is striking or the delightfully slanted streets of a ski-town but the……the………aura. The way Martin declares “Irony? Oh, we don’t get that here” just seems to permeate every sidewalk and home and main street shop. But at the same time it’s not staid, plain-jane Eisenhower America, it’s something sweeter and truer, a place where no one seems to put on airs or masquerade as something they’re not. It comes across so tranquil, so refreshing, so much like……effervescent ginger ale.

Dammit, I want to go there.


Rory Larry said...


Okay not the real Ricks which was as you say fictional but you can go to A Ricks cafe in casablanca.

Lexi said...

I think Nelson, is the town I have been searching for all my life... sigh...

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Nick! This could've easily be a blogathon :D

Oooh I'd LOVE to visit Rick’s Café Americain, too, that's awesome.

Well, since you've just read my heart-on-a-sleeve piece, I wish I could visit The Daily Planet or Fortress of Solitude, but wait... they don't exist!! :(

Nick Prigge said...

Rory: I feel like I should have known this existed but I had no idea. Perhaps when I swing through Tunisia to visit Raiders of the Lost Ark filming locations I can make a stop in Morocco too?

Lexi: You know, Nelson exists. Well, kind of. It's in Canada, not Washington. And I'm pretty sure Shelley Duvall doesn't run the main street diner but still.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson,_British_Columbia

Ruth: The Daily Planet would be awesome. Really, I'd love to go to any old school newspaper building in the movies. All that fast talking banter. I like to imagine that's how real newspapers are run but probably not.

Alex Withrow said...

Love this. Back in my boxing days, I would've loved to train at a dingy shithole like The Hit Pit. That place had character. You could smell that place.

When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to visit Willy Wonka's factory. Heaven.

Nick Prigge said...

"You could smell that place." I love this. This makes me think I should write a post about places you can smell on screen.

Alex Withrow said...

Ha. If you don't then I will!