Before Anthony Bourdain, before Globetrekker, before House Hunter International and The Amazing Race, we only had movies to form our vision of the world. In my case, that means that up to a certain age, many of my associations with the exotic were created by longshots of beautiful scenery, luxurious hotels, debonair men, flawless women clad in fabulous wardrobes, and, usually, murder.
So grab some popcorn and let one of these classic Hitchcock gems take you and your family away in style on your next family movie night.*
To Catch a Thief (1955)– A retired cat burglar (played by Cary Grant), living in a fabulous villa in the French Riviera, must clear his name from a string of copycat burglaries. He spends much of his time touring the breathtaking French Riviera in the passenger seat of a beautiful socialite (Grace Kelly)’s convertible.
Since I first saw this film, I have visited the French Riviera and seen the beautiful vistas from a car driving above the sparkly blue Mediterranean. I was in the backseat of my grandparents’ car, crushed between my brother and sister. But in my mind’s eye, I was Grace Kelly, in my sporty convertible with an Hermes scarf tied around my perfectly coiffed golden locks.
Vertigo (1956)- In this mystery-thriller set in the city of San Francisco, James Stewart plays a retired cop with a fear of heights who is hired by an old friend to investigate his wife’s disappearance. His search and the ensuing plot twists are as snaky as San Francisco’s Lombard Street, as he take us through the vertiginous streets and breathtaking vistas of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, and some of the area’s old Spanish missions, including Mission Dolores and Mission San Juan Bautista.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)– A middle class American couple (played by Doris Day and James Stewart) travel to Morocco, their son gets kidnapped, and, in their quest to find him, they become embroiled in a plot to assassinate an ambassador. Filmed in Morocco with outdoor scenes in souks and squares of Marrakesh, with its food stalls, snake charmers, and storytellers, this movie may make you want to hop on a plane.
These movies are the ultimate escape, to another place and a different time, and a different way to travel, with the top down, the view at your feet, and intrigue just around the next corner.
*Note: These movies are best suited for older children.