Saturday, June 21, 2008

Euro 2008 and the movies

I'm a bit of a soccer fan, and in watching some of the matches at the current European soccer championships, I got to thinking about how one of the countries on the field has been the setting for a lot of Hollywood movies, while the other has shown up very rarely. To be honest, there are some countries that are fairly obvious locations for movies. Germany, for example, is where a lot of the World War II movies are going to be set. Since the allies invaded both through Italy and France, other World War II movies from Hollywood studios are going to be set there, while we shouldn't expect many involving the eastern front. (I briefly mentioned To Be or Not To Be; one other that I can think of is Hangmen Also Die, about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the governor of the Nazi protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.)

Glamour is also another good reason for a place to be a locale in a Hollywood movie. Paris would generally be considered much more chic than any city in Germany, and so there are a lot of movies set in contemporary Paris: this goes back at least as early as 1934's Wonder Bar, continues through Ninotchka before the war, and continues with post-war movies like Sabrina and Paris -- When It Sizzles. For some reason, I can't imagine Berlin -- When It Sizzles. By the same token, Audrey Hepburn went on a Roman Holiday; I can't imagine her princess meeting a bunch of diplomats and going on a Bonn Holiday.

There's also the issue of immigration. Of course, the United States was founded by immigrants from Britain; not just the English, but a lot of Scots, as well. The tie with the "mother country", along with the fact that we share a common language, and the substantial number of British-born actors in Hollywood, made it natural that England would be a setting for many Hollywood movies. I believe the same is the reason why we also have Ireland-set movies like The Quiet Man.

Indeed, what got me to thinking about this was the fact that there are so few movies set in either Spain or Portugal. Sure, there are a few historical movies like El Cid and El Greco that are set in Spain. One of the few references to contemporary Spain I can think of is that May Robson's daughter is about to marry a Spaniard in Lady for a Day. As for Portugal? Well, everybody in Casablanca wants exit visa to neutral Lisbon. And there are Portuguese-American fisherman in Tiger Shark (played by Edward G. Robinson) and Captains Courageous (Spencer Tracy in an Oscar-winning role). But anything set in Portugal? I don't believe so. I'd guess it's because Spanish and Portuguese emigrants had places in Latin America to go to.


gps said...

some american movies related to portugal

gps said...

movies and video clips