Monday, September 9, 2019

Lights, Camera, Action, Popcorn. . .Greece!

Stolen jewels. A hint of romance. A bit of danger.  A scene that makes your heart race, with Hayley Mills, the Walt Disney star of the mid-1900's trapped in a Greek windmill and escaping by clinging to the canvas blade as it spun past.

My introduction to Greece

That was my introduction to Greece. 1964.

Thanks to Walt Disney's movie 'The Moon-Spinners' filmed on Crete, starring Mills, Eli Wallach, Irene Papas and Pola Negri - I had an action-packed introduction to Greece. It planted the seed . . .

I knew that someday, I was going to Greece (Back then, I certainly wouldn't have thought I'd be living here, but I sure did want to visit!)


A movie sent me chasing Greek windmills. . .

It was Pauline Collins as 'Shirley Valentine'  who 'took' Pacific Northwest friend, Barbara Cantwell, to Greece via the movie of the same name. The 1989  film, about a bored, middle-aged housewife -- Shirley Valentine --who ditches her mundane life and her husband and heads to Greece on her own, was filmed the island of Mykonos.

While Barbara lives on an island in Washington State, she continues to escape to a Greek island 'with' Shirley.  

Scenes of Greece 

For our English friends, Bill and Val Kitson, it is watching that toe-tapping 2008 'Mamma Mia' -- filmed on Skopelos island -- that is a must-watch prior to trips to Greece. They say it helps build the excitement for their bi-annual trips to Crete (this spring they watched it before they left and after they returned)!



Bet your toes start tapping . . .OPA!

And I bet everyone of you has seen at least the beach dance scene from the 1964 film, 'Zorba the Greek', in which Anthony Quinn as Alexis Zorbas and Alan Bates, his boss interlink arms and dance the 'siritaki' on a Greek beach. 

Mural in Stoupa - Kazantzakis and Zorbas

The movie was based on a novel written by Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis, who lived for a time -- a century ago -- just down the road from us in Stoupa village. He'd tried to mine lignite from a hillside behind the village. His mining operation foreman was George Zorbas. . .which gave rise to the subsequent novel.

Me in Crete on 'Zorba's beach' the movie dance was filmed here

The 1964 movie was filmed in Crete.
 .

The idea for this big-screen getaway post can be credited to the former Seattle Times travel editor, Brian Cantwell, (Barbara's husband) for whom I used to write travel tales. After reading my post about 'novel' destinations he asked about movie getaways to Greece (still thinking travel stories) So I set out to find some movies and was amazed at the number I found! Those highlighted are but a sample.  Some, you've probably heard of and others, probably not. 




Ill Met by Moonlight 


Take for instance, 'Ill Met by Moonlight' a 1957 movie shot in Crete. The movie is based on a real life incidient during World War II in which a Nazi commander was kidnapped by British armed forces and Cretan resistance fighters.  The one who led the effort was none other than Patrick Leigh Fermor, the British writer I told you about a few weeks ago. His Greek home (now officially open to the public) is just a few kilometers from us.



Patrick Leigh Fermor House in Kalamitsi


And while speaking of him, another movie, 'Before Midnight' was filmed at his home in 2013.  The film was the final one in a trilogy of movies that began with 'Before Sunrise' (1995) and 'Before Sunset' (2004). Featuring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, it was shot in 15 days. The PLF House was loaned to the production crew by Benaki Museum.


Donkeys on Hydra are still used as transport vehicles


The Academy-Award-winning 'The Guns of Navarone' filmed in 1961 on Rhodes had a $2 million budget which was quickly blown because of the costs of filming there: the terrain was so rough that many of the locations could only be accessed by donkey and they hired 1,000 Greek soldiers to play the German army.


Island escape and escapade


One that I'd never heard of before writing this piece is 'Surprise Package'  a 1960's movie also filmed on Rhodes. The movie is about an American gangster sent back to his Greek homeland and is supervised by a corrupt police chief and the plot thickens from there. The stars include Yul Brenner as the gangster and co-stars include Mitzi Gaynor and Noel Coward.

Greece for your eyes only

A more recent movie, 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981) takes James Bond through locations in England and Italy and includes scenes shot in Rhodes and Meteora in central Greece where six Greek Orthodox monasteries are built atop stunning rock formations.



Boy on a Dolphin - Sofia Loren room in Hydra hotel

A 23-year-old Sofia Loren played a beautiful sponge diver in 'Boy on the Dolphin' a movie filmed on the island of Hydra in 1957.  Today on the island there is a statue in a park overlooking the sea of a boy on a dolphin to commemorate the movie. We also stayed in the Sofia Loren room at Hydra Icons hotel last year.  


Heading to new adventures this fall


Summer has on its way into the history books and September is definitely showing signs of autumn.  And for those who've been with us awhile, you know that autumn is the time of year we straddle two worlds: Greece and the US.  The next time you hear from us, we will be in the village of Manson on the shores of Lake Chelan in Washington State.  We have a lot to learn about that place we made our 'other home' last fall and hope you'll join us in our journey of discovery!

Thanks for the time you spent with us today!! Safe travels to you and yours ~

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Our World Tuesday
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