… Then Thailand is its Movie Studio and Bangkok, in particular, Sound Stage 1.
Bangkok has provided the setting, background and magic for many movies over the years. Either as its genuine self or as a stand in for Phnom Penh, Saigon and Hanoi.
I have decided to highlight a few movies that I have actually seen and I will do more posts for some of those that have been set almost entirely in this great city.
We start with a great actor in a great timeless classic, David Niven in Around The World In 80 Days (1956). One of my favourites growing up but way too long to watch all at once. David Niven gave a master class in the leading role as the eccentric Philleas Fogg.
Part of this grand project was filmed in Bangkok. Calling in a favour,Co-Director Michael Todd, was able to borrow one of the royal barges of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. 165 foot long and complete with 70 glitteringly clad oarsmen you would struggle to remember the scene as it only lasts 12 seconds!
From here we move to 1971s Duel of Fists. This Shaw Brothers Studio offering stars David Chiang (Blood Brothers)
As a Hong Kong Engineer who visits Bangkok in search of his long lost half-brother (played by Ti Lung) who has grown up to be a Muay Thai boxer.
Thai Actress Pawana Chanachit (who tragically died in 2012) co-starred as a love interest for Chiang’s character. Locations include the Dusit Thani Hotel on Rama IV Road, long before overpass bridges and the Bangkok Skytrain were built, as well as the Siam Intercontinental, since razed to make way for Siam Paragon.
As is always the case in an exotic locale, Bangkok has played host to James Bond, starting with 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun .
Roger Moore’s as James Bond is seen in attendance at a Thai boxing match at Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district. His plan was to rendezvous with Andrea Anders (played by Maud Adams) to receive the Solex (main plot device) but is instead killed by the main villain, Scaramanga.
Most of the film was filmed in Phuket (where we might wander to later in our trip) and Hong Kong where we are going in May.
Michael Cimino’s 1978 movie The Deer Hunter may have been set in Vietnam but the Russian roulette bar was actually in Patpong in Bangkok, while the POW camp was in Sai Yok, Kanchanaburi Province in Western Thailand. This is such a great movie and the Russian Roulette scenes are just great cinema. Every time I hear a lot of Asians shouting at each other around a table I have a smirk as I think of this movie.
To be continued…