Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

To catch a film setting I

Happy Bastille Day!

Or, as they say in France, Joyeux Quatorze Juillet! It’s a day for me to remember my old university roommate Leigh, whose birthday falls on this day, and to think fondly on all things French.

If you read this web site at all, you have probably long since gotten fed up with my annual habit of whining about not going to Cannes while the film festival is on. Indeed, I seem to recall having such a whine a mere seven weeks ago.

But the reality is that I’ve been to Cannes (although not during the festival), and I’m sure that, apart from all the buzz and important new movies, May is probably the worst time to be in Cannes. By all accounts, it is crowded and hot, although heat does not seem like much of a drawback to those of us who reside in Ireland.

I first passed through Cannes too many years ago to count. I was on a train, journeying from Florence to Bordeaux. I did not stop on the Côte d’Azur, but I did enjoy the Mediterranean views as I traveled through. My first proper visit came almost exactly three decades later. That was seven years ago, and the page that contains photos of that visit is consistently among the pages on this web site that still gets the most hits each month.


I made another visit last autumn. It was an all-too-brief stay in the kind of boutique hotel, right on the sea, I usually balk at paying for. But I had to splurge because it was the Missus’s birthday and, as I told my Facebook friends, it’s not every year a girl turns 29. (Of course, in our house, as in many others, it actually is every year.) We were lucky to have perfect weather, and one of the highlights of the sojourn was a drive up into the mountains on the Route de Caussols, where we had spectacular views of the coast below, the sea and even all the way to Corsica. The medieval village of Gourdon, perched on a breathtaking precipice, was a particular joy to walk around in.

A street in Tourettes-sur-Loup

With all this exposure to natural beauty, rich culture and quality time with my family, my thoughts, of course, inevitably turned to, what else, movies. Specifically, I was thinking, this region is so gorgeous that surely a ton of films had location shooting done there. In fact, as we drove the spectacular narrow winding roads to Gourdon and then to Tourettes-sur-Loup, I had the definitely nagging feeling that, if I had not actually been in this place before, I had at least seen it before.

Happily, it wasn’t too long after returning home that someone turned me on to a cool web site aimed at just the sort of person wonders about such things while traveling around. It is called BoxOfficeQuant and it is full of all kinds of numbers and statistics about movies. One of the coolest pages on the site is a page that uses Google Maps/Google Earth to pinpoint filming locations for some 2,001 movies made over the past century. You can probably find the same information by typing queries in your search engine of choice, but when you are more interested in “what was filmed around here?” more than “where was this movie filmed?” it makes it very handy. It’s also cool to see what movies were filmed close together or even in the same exact spot. The map page isn’t bullet-proof. It seems to rely on data from the Internet Movie Database, which varies widely in specifying locations very generally and very specifically. But it’s still lots of fun and pretty useful.

So what does BoxOfficeQuant say was filmed in the area we were in? Since it is summer and I am lazy, I will tell you next time.

-S.L., 14 July 2011

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