Wander logo

The Ten Greatest Classic Films About Travel

by Ra'eesah Manack 11 months ago in movie review

Are you missing globetrotting as much as I am?

The Ten Greatest Classic Films About Travel
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

During these uncertain times, what better way to capture the essence of traveling than watching a good travel movie.

There is nothing to compare to the feelings a classic film creates: feelings of nostalgia, a warm fuzzy feeling of better times, and memories of yesteryear. Watching the classics is food for the soul.

Let’s look at these ten classic films on travel:

1. The Wizard of Oz

The 1939 musical classic about Dorothy’s travel to the land of Oz is a brilliant portrayal of fantasy travel.

In it, Dorothy (Judy Garland) encounters witches, talking trees, munchkins, and ruby red slippers. She befriends Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion, and together they set off on the Yellow Brick Road to see the Wizard of Oz - what an adventure.

2. Roman Holiday

Or watch the black and white1953 film, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, for a real travel experience.

The romantic comedy set in Rome has Hepburn playing a princess on a goodwill tour. Peck is an American reporter, Joe Bradley, tasked with interviewing her. Bradley misses the interview after saving a “drunk” woman, who he allows to sleep on his couch for the night.

Later, Bradley realizes that the woman is HRH, and he becomes her local guide to get the scoop. Romance blooms while they tour Rome.

3. To Catch a Thief

Alfred Hitchcock directs this stunning thriller starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It was filmed in Cannes and Nice and perfectly captures the Golden Age of travel.

The storyline follows a retired cat burglar, John Robie(Cary Grant), and a wealthy debutante, Frances(Grace Kelly), and her mother, Jessie Stevens(Jessie Royce Landis). When a series of burglaries occur, the retired thief is suspected of going back to his old ways.

He sets a trap to catch the real thief using the Stevens, who boasts of owning expensive jewelry.

4. Easy Rider

Easy Rider, the 1969 classic, stars Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson. The film's release came at the same time as the Woodstock Festival, capturing the sixties' spirit on film.

In it, we are taken from L.A. to New Orleans, through desert lands and open country, by two bikers headed to the Mardi Gras. The drug-dealing hippies have netted a hefty profit, but spend time in the great outdoors, and save their money for a carefree Florida life later on.

5. Casablanca

Casablanca is not just a classic; it’s a legend. This 1942 romantic melodrama stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Rick(Bogart), a night club owner during World War II, undertakes to help his former lover Ilsa(Bergman) and her husband escape French Morocco. In this film, the one-liners are timeless: “Here’s looking at you kid,” and, “We’ll always have Paris.”

6. The Endless Summer

The 1966 surfer documentary in which director Bruce Brown followed two young surfers, Robert August and Mike Hynson, around the globe on their quest to find the perfect wave.

In it, the California surfers travel to West Africa, Australia, Tahiti and beyond, accomplishing what most people dream of - living their dream. Brown’s film is so powerful it has become a timeless masterpiece, and it captures the imagination of every new generation.

7. Sullivan's Travels

The 1941 witty journey film takes its title from Jonathan Swift's classic tale, Gulliver's Travels. Sullivan’s Travels, directed by Preston Sturges, stars Joel McCrea as John L Sullivan, a Hollywood director.

Sullivan sets out in rags and with a dime in his pocket to gain life experience as a homeless person for his next movie. The film includes a cross-country car chase.

Sturges’ film satirizes Hollywood’s pretension and excesses, using sophisticated verbal wit, satire, and fast-paced slapstick.

8. Two for the Road

Two for the Road is a 1967 British romantic dramedy directed and produced by Stanley Donen and stars Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.

The travel theme is constant throughout the film. A married couple, architect Mark Wallace (Finney) and his wife, Joanna (Hepburn), reflect on their first decade of marriage during a drive from their London home to St. Tropez, France, to meet with an affluent client. They struggle to rekindle their passion as mutual infidelity threatens to tear them apart.

9. Out of Africa

Robert Redford and Meryl Streep star in this 1985 tragic love story, based on the autobiographical novel by Isak Dinesen. It is filmed on location in Kenya and the U.K.

It tells the story of a married baroness, Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), who falls for a big-game hunter, Denys (Robert Redford), when she travels to Africa to join her unfaithful husband. Their love affair is doomed because of their different lifestyles.

10. Stagecoach

Stagecoach is the film to watch as a classics list on travel would not be complete without a Western starring John Wayne.

Traveling on a stagecoach, through the majestic Monument Valley of the Southwest, the travelers learn about each other amidst a threat from Apache Indians. The film is considered a landmark film that elevated Westerns from “B” grade films to a more sophisticated, richer Western - a serious adult genre.

movie review
Ra'eesah Manack
Ra'eesah Manack
Read next: My Adventure in Greece Part II
Ra'eesah Manack
See all posts by Ra'eesah Manack

Find us on socal media

Miscellaneous links