23 December 2015

Glen Nevis, Scotland

In HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, the fourth instalment of the series, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) competes in the Triwizard Tournament, even though he does not want to participate.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 0:59:26
The first task is to retrieve a golden egg guarded by a chained dragon, a Hungarian Horntail. The egg contains information necessary for the second assignment and is placed in the middle of the arena. All students and professors from Hogwarts are watching as Harry tries to get the egg but the fire-breathing dragon immediately attacks. Harry summons his Firebolt broomstick and tries again but the dragon manages to free itself, going after Harry.

During the chase the Glen Nevis valley in the Scottish Highlands is seen in the background, including the An Steall waterfall which is more than 100 metres high. The valley can easily be accessed by means of a rocky path through a gorge. Beware that the path can be slippery when wet and proper footwear is necessary. We had a beautiful sunny day during our stay and the valley is certainly worth visiting.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 0:54:17
Glen Nevis, Scotland, 3 August 2011
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 1:02:38
Glen Nevis, Scotland, 3 August 2011

Screenshots © Warner Bros.

8 November 2015

New York NY, USA

One of the first films Alfred Hitchcock made in the United States was SABOTEUR. The film tells the story of Barry Kane (Robert Cummings), a man wrongfully accused of setting fire in a factory. His search for the real culprit, Frank Fry (Norman Lloyd), takes him from the west to the east coast across America. The climax of the movie is set on top of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

Saboteur, 1:41:35
The statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess who holds a book of law under her left arm and bears a torch in her right hand, symbolizing Liberty enlightning the world. The statue was designed by Frédéric Bartholdi. It was gift from France to the United States and was officially dedicated on 28 October 1886. Gustav Eiffel was responsible for the iron construction of the 151 feet high statue which can be accessed from the inside all the way up to the torch. The Statue of Liberty can be only visited by taking a ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan to Liberty Island.

Filming on Liberty Island and the statue was done on 15 December 1941. Since then the monument has been restored several times, including replacing the flames of the torch in 1986.
During our visit I had not yet seen the film, the similarities with the photographs I took are coincidental.

Saboteur, 1:34:00
Liberty Island viewed from Ellis Island, New York, 10 August 2006 

The reason why I am mentioning this movie is that Norman Lloyd, the actor who plays the title role, today celebrates his 101st birthday! Saboteur was his movie debut and he is still active as an actor (see the Internet Movie Database). In the scene pictured below he is standing on the ferry and is looking at Barry Kane’s girlfriend Patricia Martin (Priscilla Lane) who is following him. When he has arrived on Liberty Island he watches over his shoulder before entering the statue.

Saboteur, 1:34:10
Statue of Liberty, New York, 10 August 2006
Saboteur, 1:34:23
Statue of Liberty, New York, 10 August 2006

Several scenes were filmed in the studio where parts of the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island were reconstructed, including the phone booth that Patricia Martin uses to warn the police. In the background part of the skyline of Manhattan can be seen which has changed completely in the years that have passed. Still recognizable are the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building from 1930 (red arrow, today The Trump Building) and the Cities Service Building from 1932 (blue arrow, nowadays owned by Rose Associates).

Saboteur, 1:35:01
Manhattan viewed from Liberty Island,
New York, 10 August 2006

Screenshots © Universal

14 October 2015

Vienna, Austria

The fifteenth James Bond film, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, was made at the end of the Cold War and tells of KGB officer General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) defecting to the West. James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is assigned to aid the general and discovers that the young female cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) acts as a sniper.
Maria-Theresien-Platz, Vienna, 12 July 2014
On 5 October 1986 the main players were introduced to the press in Vienna where filming on location was done for the next two weeks. Because it was not possible in 1986 to film a Western spy movie in an Eastern bloc country - especially not a James Bond movie - Vienna was also used to stand in for the city of Bratislava, at that time part of Czechoslovakia and currently the capitol of Slovakia. Not a strange choice considering that Vienna and Bratislava are less than 80 kilometres apart from each other.
After the opening credits James Bond and his ally Saunders (Thomas Wheatley) visit a concert also attended by general Koskov. Above the entrance it says ‘Ľudové konzervatorium’ (‘People's Conservatory’), but in real life it is the Volksoper at the Währinger Straße 78. This opera building is easy to visit by means of the nearby metro station Währinger Straße-Volksoper. The building opened its doors in 1898 as Kaiserjubiläums-Stadttheater-Verein to commemorate the 50 year reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
The screenshots by night have been brightened for a better view, the Volksoper is also shown during daylight further on in the movie.

The Living Daylights, 0:13:54
Volksoper, Vienna, 13 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 0:13:57
Volksoper, Vienna, 13 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 0:34:10
Volksoper, Vienna, 13 July 2014

During the intermission of the concert the British spies cross the street to what seems to be an office of the communist party KSS, with the hammer and sickle on the balcony and the sign ‘KSS Agitačné Stredisko’ (‘KSS Agitation Centre’) above the door, but turns out to be a MI6 safe house. In reality a candy shop is located on the corner. It was closed when we visited but during opening hours a few photos from the movie are on display in the window. The building itself has been painted bright yellow since filming was done.

The Living Daylights, 0:11:41
Währinger Straße, Vienna, 13 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 0:11:44
Währinger Straße, Vienna, 13 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 0:11:46
Währinger Straße, Vienna, 13 July 2014

When James Bond and Kara finally arrive in Vienna the famous Giant Ferris Wheel can be seen in the background. At night they make a ride in the wheel that is also featured in The Third Man. The line "Ein balloon mein herr?" spoken by Necros (Andreas Wisniewski) is a direct reference to this film classic.

The Living Daylights, 0:52:33
Giant Ferris Wheel, Vienna, 12 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 1:01:13
Giant Ferris Wheel, Vienna, 12 July 2014

Earlier that day James Bond and Kara have made a ride through Vienna in a horse carriage, crossing the Maria-Theresien-Platz. On this square are the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History) and the Naturhistorisches Museum (Museum of Natural History), two almost identical buildings. They pass the monument for Empress Maria Theresa from 1888, but since her statue is on top only the statue of one the four horsemen, the Austrian general Gideon Ernst von Laudon, can be seen. In the background the Hofburg Palace is visible, until 1918 home of the Habsburg dynasty of which Maria Theresa was a member.

The Living Daylights, 0:52:42
Maria-Theresien-Platz, Vienna, 12 July 2014

The horse carriage also goes to the Schönbrunn Palace and passes the back side where an orchestra is playing on top of the steps and a waltz is being danced. In the background the Neptune fountain and, on the hill, the Gloriette pavillion can be seen. During the end credits the front side of the palace is seen by night as well as the fountain dating from 1776 personifying the regions Galicia (Poland), Volhynia (Ukraine) and Transylvania (Romenia).
Both the palace and the gardens of Schönbrunn are open to the public.

The Living Daylights, 0:53:30
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, 10 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 0:54:03
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, 10 July 2014
The Living Daylights, 2:08:15
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, 10 July 2014

Screenshots © EON Productions

20 September 2015

Schönbrunn Palace, Austria

The romantic comedy A BREATH OF SCANDAL is set in 1917 at the Habsburg court in Austria. Princess Olympia (Sophia Loren - today, 20 September, is her 81st birthday) falls in love with the American mining engineer Charlie Foster (John Gavin), but her family expects her to marry a prince.

A Breath of Scandal, 0:42:46
The movie was almost completely filmed in Austria, amongst others at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, where Prince Philip (Maurice Chevalier) lives. Members of the House of Habsburg did actually stay at this palace which served as a summer residence. The most famous resident was the Empress Sissi and the movies about her life were also filmed here. The palace was built in various stages between 1638 and 1780.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the palace was given its characteristic yellow colour, the ‘Schönbrunn Gelb’. A large part of Schönbrunn is open to the public and in the garden the Schönbrunn Tiergarten is located. Founded in 1752, it is the oldest zoo in the world.

Filming took place between May and July of 1959 and little has changed. Schönbrunn is seen twice in the movie, first when Charlie arrives at the palace and hopes to meet the prince. He arrives at the back entrance and accidentally runs into Prince Philip. The main entrance with the almost identical facade cannot be seen in the film.

A Breath of Scandal, 0:25:44
Schönbrunn Palace, 10 July 2014
A Breath of Scandal, 0:30:25
Schönbrunn Palace, 10 July 2014
A Breath of Scandal, 0:31:05
Schönbrunn Palace, 10 July 2014

At the end of the movie Schönbrunn is seen a second time when Charlie and Olympia drive off together. The final shot shows the Neptune Fountain and the Gloriette. This pavilion was built for diners and receptions. The structure dates from 1775 and, being on top of a hill, offers a panoramic view of the palace and the city.

A Breath of Scandal, 1:33:15
Schönbrunn Palace, 10 July 2014
A Breath of Scandal, 1:33:23
Gloriette and Neptune Fountain, 10 July 2014

During our visit I did not know that this movie was filmed here, the photographs of the current situation are lucky shots.

Schönbrunn Palace, 10 July 2014

Screenshots © Titanus/Paramount