Have film, will travel

Own Wilson plays writer Gil in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

Sony Pictures Classics
Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.

Have the urge for adventure? These films will transport you to the lands of your dreams.

Travel awakens something deep inside of you. It’s an alarm clock for the senses.

When you take a trip to another country, you morph into a human sponge, soaking up as much of the history, culture and ... ah, yes, the food ... as you can.

Just as there are myriad choices as to where to go, there are also many films featuring travel that you can enjoy from the comfort of your favorite chair. These five films will transport you to France, Africa, Italy and Morocco for a dose of love, adventure and intrigue.

“Midnight in Paris” (2011) — While visiting Paris with his bucket-of-cold-water fiancée (Rachel McAdams), writer Gil (Owen Wilson) happens to be on the streets alone at midnight when an old car drives up. When he get inside, it’s suddenly the 1920s, his favorite era. Each night at midnight he returns to hobnob with his heroes, from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso and Cole Porter. Adrien Brody is particularly hilarious in a small role as Salvador Dali. In this world, Gil also meets the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

This whimsical tale of time-crossed lovers is one of Woody Allen’s most enjoyable films.

“Out of Africa” (1985) — A marriage of convenience to a baron from her native Denmark takes Karen (Meryl Streep) to Nairobi, British East Africa in 1913. As brave as she is headstrong, however, Karen learns to run a farm, takes on a few lions, challenges a chief and falls in love with a big-game hunter named Denys (Robert Redford).

The scene in which Denys washes Karen’s hair during a safari is burned into the retinas of women everywhere, but this sweeping epic is filled with memorable moments, such as when the two of them tour the area by plane, and when Karen watches Denys while he sleeps in a chair. This film is based on the life of writer Karen Blixen, who wrote under the name of Isak Dinesen.

“Roman Holiday” (1953) — Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), feeling hemmed in by her royal duties during a goodwill tour of Italy, slips away for 24 hours of everyday life. Her companion for the adventure is Joe (Gregory Peck), a journalist who realizes who she is but keeps mum as he envisions a big scoop. Together they fill the hours with all the things the princess wants to do, including taking a tour of the city on a scooter and dancing on a boat.

It’s not a stretch to imagine the incomparably lovely and charming Hepburn as a princess. She always seemed as if she was one in real life.

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) — Dr. McKenna (James Stewart), his wife, Jo (Doris Day), and their young son inadvertently step into a world of political intrigue when they go to Morocco. A day after meeting a mysterious Frenchman on a bus, he dies in the street, but not before warning the doctor that an official will be assassinated soon in London.

Next, their son is kidnapped and his life is threatened if they tell the police about the plot. In a nice touch, the doctor insists on prescribing his wife two sedatives before informing her their son has been taken. Witness Day, better known for lighter fare, in that dramatic scene. Her reactions there, as well as in the almost-painfully suspenseful climax in a music hall, are spot on.

Most people don’t get caught up in an international incident when going abroad, but that’s what you get when you sign up for the Alfred Hitchcock travel package.

“Enchanted April” (1992) — Two Englishwomen, Lotty (Josie Lawrence) and Rose (Miranda Richardson), worn thin by marriages that match the dreary weather, rent an Italian castle to escape their lives for a month. They are joined by Mrs. Fisher (Joan Plowright), an older woman stuck in the past, and Lady Caroline (Polly Walker), a woman weary of the effect her beauty has on men. They each find what they need, including true friendship, during their glorious getaway.

If all vacations were as relaxing and life-changing as this one, no one would ever return to work.

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