Top 10……Most Romantic* Filming Locations

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner what better way to celebrate the most romantic date (or what we’re told should be the romantic date!) on the calendar than taking a look at some places which have provided the backdrop for some scenes of affection being shown between lovers. Of course these images are helped on the silver screen with clever editing, added studio footage, CGI and musical scores which all add to the occasion. Basically, what we’re saying is that what you saw happen on screen may not transfer itself to your visit! This list features a mix of the good, the obvious, the bizarre and the plain wrong! So here without further ado is our Top 10……Most Romantic* Filming Locations…

(* The Beyond The Movies definition of romance!)

1. Villa Del Balbianello, Como (Italy): ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones‘ (2002) & ‘Casino Royale‘ (2006) – A double dose of romantic action to get us started. Anakin and Padmé got secretly married here in the former and Bond recovers from his beating and then declares his love for Vesper in the latter. More details here and here.

 

2. Royal Exchange Building, London (UK): ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ (2000) – Bridget catches up with Darcy here and is relieved to see him present her with a new diary so that they can make a new start together as one. More details here.

 

3. St. Mark’s Anglican Church Darling Point, Sydney (Australia): ‘Muriel’s Wedding‘ (1994) – There’s surely got to be a church somewhere in this list and so its this one! Muriel finally realises her dream here…or does she?! More details here.

 

4. Bocca Della Verita, Rome (Italy): ‘Roman Holiday‘ (1954) – Providing the films most famous scene where Joe pulls his hand out of the ‘mouth of truth’ with his hand up his sleeve astonishing Ann. More details here.

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5. Maya Bay, Phuket (Thailand): ‘The Beach‘ (2000) – Leo not only stole the heart of the beautiful Francoise here but he stole her from “French boy” too! Don’t expect to have this place to yourselves is all I’m saying! More details here.

 

6. Katz’s Deli, New York (USA): ‘When Harry Met Sally‘ (1989) – “I’ll have what she’s having!” is the classic line delivered at this sandwich shop following Sally’s fake climax in response to Harry’s boast that none of his one night stands had faked an orgasm. More details here.

 

7.  Tiffany’s, New York (USA): ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ (1966) – The image of Audrey Hepburn in her black evening gown and sunglasses with a pearl necklace around her neck and a coffee and croissant in her hand is an iconic one. She gets out of a yellow cab as the morning light breaks and gazes up at the famous jewellery store sign. All girls love Tiffany’s and who would’ve thought that 18 months after visiting this place with my girlfriend I’d be presenting her with a Tiffany’s engagement ring! More details here.

 

8.  Whittier High School, Los Angeles (USA): ‘Back To The Future‘ (1984) – Marty went back to the past to change his future by getting his parents together in the first place at the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea’ dance at this school. More details here.

 

9. Imperial Palace, Las Vegas (USA): ‘Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery‘ (1997) – Alotta Fagina’s penthouse suite where Austin shagged her rotten to use his exact words! More details here.

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10. Tiki Motel, Los Angeles (USA): ‘The Terminator‘ (1984) – John Connor was conceived here in what is perhaps the most pivotal point in the whole Terminator franchise. You could stay in the same room where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese did the deed! More details here.

 

Top 5……Australia Filming Locations

On 12th February 2001 I stepped onto Australian soil for the first time ready to spend a years working holiday travelling around the huge island. Over the years I’ve returned for a couple more visits but it was that original trip which gave me the travel bug and was actually where I visited my first filming locations. To commemorate that visit exactly 13 years on (everyone celebrates 13th anniversaries right!!) we here at Beyond The Movies present you with the Top 5……Australia filming locations.

1. Pin Oak Court, Melbourne: ‘Neighbours‘ (1985 – Present) – I’ve now racked up four visits to this famous soap opera street in South Melbourne and it has to be said there’s something exciting about going to a location which features so regularly on our screens. More details here

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2. Palm Beach, Sydney: ‘Home & Away‘ (1988 – Present) – This northern beachside suburb has provided the backdrop for so many of this soap’s memorable moments and is  a great place in its own right whether you’ve seen the show or not. More details here

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3. Bare Island, La Peruse, Bottany Bay: ‘Mission: Impossible II‘ (2000) – The films most iconic image, with Cruise riding his motorcycle through balls of fire as he escapes from the fort, was shot here. More details here

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4. Pitt Street Waterfall, Sydney: ‘The Matrix‘ (1999) and ‘Superman Returns‘ (2006) – A double-dose of movie action took place at this circular fountain. There was the distracting woman in the red dress as part of combat training in the former and Superman saves Lex Luthor’s henchwoman Kitty Kowalski in the latter. More detailshere & here.

 

5. Kings Canyon: ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert‘ (1994) – Yes, its a very famous landmark and I don’t usually go for them as such but given its isolated location in the middle of such a vast land I feel it justifies inclusion. More details here

 

Bridge On The River Kwai

One of the things I really wanted to do in Bangkok this time was take a day trip to Kanchanaburi to see what provided the backbone to a story which is part of movie folklore and widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever.

Now I don’t have too strong an interest in a lot of history but I was very intrigued to learn more about this fascinating bridge which featured so memorably in ‘The Bridge On The River Kwai‘ (1957). Believe it or not I only watched this classic film for the first time last year and of course I knew before our visit that the bridge seen on the movie screen was actually a far more aesthetically pleasing one shot in Kitulgala in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, despite the title there wasn’t even a bridge over the River Kwai until they changed the name of another river nearby which did have a bridge crossing it. 

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As the film has been around through seven decades I don’t really need to explain too much of the plot but basically it stars Obi Wan Kenobi who says he’ll pay someone or another 2000 credits in advance and a further 15000 credits on completion of the bridge….or am I mixing up my movie plot lines a bit?!!

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The day started at 6:30am when we were picked up at our hotel and we then had to endure the tedious nature of picking up other passengers and getting out of Bangkok which took over two hours to do! The first stop was a brief 15 minute one at the Allied War Cemetery; the final resting place for the POW’s who died building the railway.

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Our next destination proved to be the main one but you wouldn’t have thought so given our allocation of time there! I couldn’t believe it when they said we only had 40 minutes at the place which was the focal point of the trip! History should have taught me this as back in 2008 our “James Bond Tour” actually only included thirty minutes on the island so maybe we were doing quite well to get forty! However, this time there was the JEATH museum, picture displays, a market and of the course the bridge itself which could’ve merited the whole time.

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As a result, I had to skip the museum and pretty much photo-bomb (quite apt, possibly inappropriate, to use that word maybe given what happened to the bridge back in 1944!!) the bridge. I rushed around getting my shots and as I was lining up one shot and waiting for the timer to take my own picture the lens on my cheap glasses fell out and typically dropped through the gap in the bridge.

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Just before boarding the bus I saw the chance to get a shot of me with a Leopard. It was 100 THB ($3.5) which is a little expensive by Thai standards but with not much time and very little chance of such an opportunity coming up anytime soon I splashed the cash and gave the young cat its food and drink in return for a photo or three!

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Typically the bus didn’t move on to the next destination for about ten minutes so I guess I could have used that time more productively but its never a good idea to miss deadlines on these tours. The next stop was some very local railway station where we boarded a train to take us along the Death Railway.

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The real highlight of the train journey has to be at Wampo Viaduct (Wang Po) where the train passes through some wonderful scenery. With the majority of the passengers onboard leaning out of the windows snapping away or at least standing over that side of the carriages you have to worry about the stability of the train as it slows down a bit and carefully crosses the creaking viaduct.

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We had lunch on a boat once we disembarked from the train and even that seemed quite rushed! Sai Yok Noi Waterfall was the final stop and we had about 30 minutes there which was nice enough but fairly unnecessary in the scheme of things. It’s not as if it was even a place with loads of souvenir shops or whatever which tourist buses are often dragged to!

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I would’ve much rather had a bit longer at the bridge and if I’m ever in Bangkok again I’ll certainly consider just taking a train to the station near the bridge. I would’ve done that beforehand but fear of the unknown stopped me from doing that!

James Bond Filming Locations In Bangkok

Thailand’s capital city has featured in a couple of James Bond films; ‘The Man With The Golden Gun‘ (1974) and ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ (1997), although Bangkok was used to portray Saigon in Vietnam in the latter.

I think I’ve mentioned on here before that ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ was the first 007 flick I actually saw in its entirety and I haven’t looked back since. This film not only opened up my eyes to Bond but to Asia too which, at that time in my life, was a continent I was still very ignorant of.

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Many websites state that the skyscraper which Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) descend (above) on 77 minutes on a banner is the Westin Banyan Tree Hotel (21/100 South Sathorn Road, Sathorn) BUT it is actually the Sinn Sathorn Tower on Krung Thonbrui Road, a kilometre down the road, where they make their escape on motorbike (below) leading to what provided the films most memorable action scenes. The building is used as an office and as I looked up at the 44 floor tower to compare it with the screenshots on my phone I could see that it was the same albeit with a little CGI treatment towards its peak. Although, I’m still not 100% sure that it is the building which they jumped off, I have no doubt that it was used for the ground level shots.

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Over two decades prior to that, the Bond production team were in town in 1973 working on ‘The Man With The Golden Gun‘ (1974) in and around Bangkok and perhaps more famously Khao Ping Gan a.k.a. James Bond Island, which first appears on 95 mins, and is  where I visited on my last trip to Thailand in 2008.

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This ninth 007 movie sees Bond on location in Macau, Hong Kong (see those locationshere) and Thailand where he’s on the trail of Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and after his plan to pose as the villain backfires, he is captured and placed in Thai entrepreneur Hai Fat’s dojo where the fighters are instructed to kill him. This was filmed at Muang Boran a.k.a. Ancient Siam (formerly known as Ancient City) in Samut Prakan province. This place, which is the worlds largest outdoor museum, is first seen on 52 minutes and sticks around for some action scenes lasting about six minutes. It was quite amazing how similar this place still looks given the number of decades that have passed since it was filmed. I guess the flagstones in the screenshots (below) were laid by the production team and a huge plant feature now stands in the way of creating a better match-up.

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To be even more precise these scenes were shot at The Dvaravati House which is #18 on the map given when you purchase your ticket. There was absolutely no information on the net about which part of Muang Boran was used in the Bond film so I was well happy when I noticed the building just as we were on our way towards the exit. There is no wooden bridge going over the moat so maybe that was just added by the props department. Who knows? 40 years is a long time so it may have been there back in the 1970s for all we know!

Bond escapes from the Karate School at Muang Boran with the aid of Lt. Hip and his martial art expert nieces and the ensuing boat chase continues on to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (over 100km away!) and down Klong Dan (60 mins) with just about everyone apart from Bond ending up in the water.

It’s at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on 65 minutes (below) where Bond is reunited with his British assistant Mary Goodnight. They share dinner but inevitably their evening is interrupted. Anders (Maud Adams) tells Bond that she wants him to kill Scaramanga and will pay him at a boxing venue the next day.

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Many internet sights say that the Boxing Stadium featured on 74 minutes, where Bond discovers Anders dead and meets Scaramanga, was Lumpini Stadium but as 007 exits the place you can see a sign saying that its Ratchadamnoen Stadium. Other sources say that the fighting scenes were shot at Lumpini but the filming was done at Ratchadamnoen but I’m not sure which one. I only had time to visit the former and of course it wasn’t open when I was there so its just more exterior shots I’m afraid!

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The car chase which follows from outside the stadium was shot in the car park at Royal Turf Club and sees them briefly driving with Giant Swing (below) and Wat Suthat in the background.

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The dual with Scaramanga on James Bond Island takes place on 105 mins and is perhaps the films most iconic image. Near to Siam Center are a few signboards giving basic details of how Thailand has featured in movies over the years. Of course there was one for ‘The Beach‘ (2000) and there was also one for James Bond giving brief details of what you’ve read in this entry!

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See other James Bond filming locations by clicking on the links below:

Tokyo        London        Prague        Venice        Como        Istanbul        Las Vegas        Phuket        Vienna        Hong Kong        New York        Panama        Skyfall

The Hangover Part II Filming Locations

This 2011 sequel was yet another typical example of scriptwriters being lazy and cashing in on the success of the original. In this case, the plot was very similar to the  2009 ‘Hangover‘ movie but with one difference; it was shot overseas in an exotic location which is the classic fallback when ideas are lacking.

Personally, I can’t say I ever really understood what all the fuss was about regarding the original ‘Hangover’ film. I thought it was okay but not as funny as everyone else seemed to think and it has to be said that ‘The Hangover Part II‘ (to give it its full title) was really lame and needless to say that I didn’t even bother with the third one last year! However, Tokyo Fox has a job to do and that’s to provide you the reader with as much detail as possible for tracking down its movie locations. Besides, its still fun seeking out these places whether you like the film or not!

So basically The Wolfpack are in Bangkok to celebrate Stu’s (Ed Helms) impending wedding and a typical aerial shot of the city at night appears on 24 minutes and that’s pretty much where the story begins. The gang, along with Lauren’s younger brother Teddy, wake up in a dirty hotel room alongside a chain-smoking monkey and with Stu’s face tattooed like Mike Tyson’s. They all congregate on the roof of the Lebua Hotel (below) 35 minutes in and try to fill in the gaps to see what happened the night before.

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A couple of minutes later (37 mins) and they’re in Chinatown on Thanon Plaeng Nam (below) which is a lane where you can get famous dishes like shark fin and bird’s nest. It is nowhere near as hectic as its depiction on screen. If you see the red and white Rubber Stamp sign then you’re on the right street and the blue road sign above Phil’s (Bradley Cooper) shoulder is for Soi Phiphaksa 1. The nearest station is Hua Lamphong MRT station and from there its about a ten minute walk.

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A clue leads them to Sukhumvit Soi 7/1 (below) near Nana BTS station (41 mins) where they are, to their surprise, given a hostile reception. They come across the place in which Stu got his face tattooed the previous night. Sadly this tattoo parlour was purpose built for the film so there’s not too much to see on this street.

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Hoping to return the mute monk in a wheelchair they acquired by accident they take asongthaew truck to Muang Boran (Ancient Siam, formerly known as Ancient City) on 45 minutes which doubles up in this film as a Chinese temple. This is the same place which featured in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun‘ (1974) but unlike that movie, this one is recognised in the reception area where there’s a wall display informing the public of what has been filmed there. The Phra Kaew Pavillion (below) is stop #30 on the map (given as part of the entry fee) and an open pavilion was added to create the atmosphere although no stick-wielding Chinese monks were on hand to greet us on our arrival! The Phra Kaew Pavilion was built to represent Ayutthaya as a centre of Buddhism in the past. Encouraged by the head monk to meditate before they leave results in Alan (Zach Galifianakis) having a juvenile vision which leads them to their next location.

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That place happens to be a strip club which is on Soi Cowboy (50 mins). They stand at the entrance to “Siam Sam’s” which in reality is Cactus Bar (below) although the interior shots were filmed elsewhere.

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Sirocco restaurant on the 64th floor of Lebua State Lounge is seen on 62 minutes and again on 76 mins. Since filming wrapped the restaurant and the adjacent bar have been offering Hangovertini cocktails for 490 BHT ($15). Be aware that if you want to enter this restaurant that there is a strict dress code which must be adhered to.

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The hotel is really using the Hangover fame to its advantage as they also offer a special two-night “The Hangover Part II” package priced at $2,200. Furthermore, there is the opportunity for rich fans to stay in “The Hangover Suite” which is a three-bedroom luxury room accommodating up to six guests with a fully-stocked mini-bar and ample party space.

A single small tree marks the traffic circle known as Wat San Road roundabout which appears on 69 minutes as the place where they encounter the drug dealing monkey which they subsequently steal before a car chase ensues which culminates in a ridiculous stunt which sees the car manage to jump over a river! The seven streets leading out from the roundabout had to be closed for filming. To get there yourself you have to take the Chao Phraya Express boat to Ratchawongse and hang right at the first turning and then its nearly a ten minute walk.

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The wedding between Stu and Lauren takes place after that in Krabi at Phulay Bay Resort which is owned by Ritz-Carlton. It has 54 one-bedroom villas with private pools, outdoor baths, butler service all available at sky-high prices!