Have you ever watched a movie and fallen in love with its settings and locations so much you wish you could be there on your next vacation? We have! We find ourselves constantly wondering how we can get to that beautiful seaside town in The Proposal, or whether the eccentric inn-on-stilts in Nights in Rodanthe really exists. And so we set out to do a bit of online sleuthing, in search of the perfect reads that would give us some insights into the world of movie locations.

Here are the 3 best books on film locations - to date:

1. The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations by Tony Reeves

If you want to know where Catch Me If You Can was filmed, the real location of that deserted island where Tom Hanks spent his Cast Away days, or which baseball field was used in A League of Their Own,  you will love this book. Locations of more than 1,500 films are featured in this one 6x9 volume. The Sunday Telegraph proclaims this book “essential reading for movie buffs.” We agree. It’s currently temporarily sold out on Amazon, but you can still put in your order and get the book as soon as it’s available. We actually bought our used copy online from an independent bookseller. It arrived the other day in mint condition. Having examined the book first hand, we wish the photographs were in color instead of black and white. The inside layout isn’t as visually appealing as we had expected, but it is packed with detailed information on film locations. For example, did you know that the setting of Beaumont-sur-Mer in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (one of our favorite ‘80s flicks) is fictitious, and that the actual filming took place instead at the Grand Hotel de Cap-Ferrat in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, an elegant Edwardian resort east of Nice? Just another reason to get to the South of France this year for us.

2. On Location: Cities of the World in Film by Claudia Hellman and Claudine Weber-Hof

A fun, worldly romp of famous movie locations worldwide, this book provides addresses and city maps for a tour of Notting Hill’s charming streets, When Harry Met Sally’s New York, as well as takes us to that quaint cottage in Snowshill, Cotswold, where Bridget Jones’s parents hosted their Christmas party. The book features 18 cities (including Los Angeles, Paris, Beijing, Sydney, Prague, Berlin, etc.) and some of the most famous movies filmed on location there. The photographs are gorgeous and the maps quite legible and useful. One of our favorite finds in the book is the exact location that served as the “homey backdrop for the royal runaway (Audrey Hepburn) and reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) to get better acquainted” in Roman Holiday: Via Margutta and the charming apartment Number 51 - both near the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti in Rome (p. 139).

3. On Location 2: Famous Landscapes in Film by Claudia Hellman and Claudine Weber-Hof

Built on the success and popularity of the first On Location book (mentioned above), Volume 2 of the On Location series continues to showcase detailed information on the filming locations of approximately 400 movies in over 40 countries, complete with original photos, maps, and filmmaking anecdotes. Locations of internationally-acclaimed movies such as Lord of the Rings, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Lawrence of Arabia are among the ones featured. One of our favorite sections in the book is “Literary Landscapes.” It features all the exquisite locations of Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility, Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, The Remains of the Day, Howard’s End and many other romantic period films.

If you’re a movie lover, you will love these books, especially the beautiful, coffee-table On Location series. An hour reading one of these gorgeous books will make you feel as if you’re actually on a holiday by the Italian Lakes with ... say ... George Clooney (see p. 112 of On Location 2 for directions to Ocean’s Twelve’s Visconti villa). Bon voyage!

By the way, the Nights in Rodanthe house’s real name is “Serendipity.” Although it is not mentioned in any of these books, we did find a bit of information on it here. Perhaps we will write about it in another post. Stay tuned.


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