Action! Six films to see before your Caribbean vacation


On the light side, here are six recommendations of films to watch before going to the Caribbean (or at any moment during your holiday “break.” Mark Rogers (USA Today) writes that “A movie’s location can be the spark that ignites a desire to travel.” He suggests five films—Chico and Rita, The Mighty Quinn, The Harder They Come, I Am Cuba, and Dr. No—and the television series Death in Paradise, saying that these examples “hold a dramatic or comedic mirror up to the Caribbean.” Here are excerpts of his descriptions—see full article and film previews in the link below:

Chico and Rita | Cuba:  [. . .] Chico and Rita is set in the 1940s and 1950s, and tells the story of star-crossed lovers; Rita, a jazz singer and Chico, a piano player. The story begins in Havana, which is lovingly recreated, and then shifts to a variety of locales, including New York City and Paris. Along the way, the audience is treated to music by Tito Puente, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés, composer of the film’s score. [. . .]

The Harder They Come | Jamaica: The first time I saw The Harder They Come, I walked out during an excruciating scene of domestic violence. But the film was so powerful and the music so stirring that I eventually returned to my seat, and got deep into what many would say is the Caribbean’s cinematic masterpiece. The Harder They Come stars Jimmy Cliff, and tells the hardscrabble story of Ivan, a would-be reggae musician who gets swindled and double-crossed by fat cat music promoters. Soon he’s hip deep in a life of crime and on the run. The Jamaica settings — especially rough and tumble Kingston — are wonderful and the music amazing, with one reggae standard after another generated by the soundtrack, which includes songs like Many Rivers to Cross and Johnny Too Bad.

Death in Paradise | Guadeloupe: Dry British humor and the steamy Caribbean locale combine to perfect effect in the joint UK and French production Death in Paradise. This is a classic fish out of water tale, with a buttoned-up British inspector being transferred to the fictional island of Saint-Marie (Guadeloupe in actuality). The humor comes from the unavoidable culture-clash between the inspector and the island’s laidback residents. [. . .]

The Mighty Quinn | Jamaica: When The Mighty Quinn was released in 1989, famed movie critic Roger Ebert gave the film five stars and heaped it with praise, calling it, “… a spy thriller, a buddy movie, a musical, a comedy and a picture that is wise about human nature.” Like many of the best movies filmed in the Caribbean, The Mighty Quinn is set in Jamaica, although in the film it’s referred to as the fictional island of St. Caro. Denzel Washington stars as Xavier Quinn, the island’s police chief, with Robert Townsend adding comic relief as a shady friend in trouble. Washington is in full heartthrob mode in this film, and the combination of music, mayhem, and island beauties is a heady one, with the Port Antonio locations shown off to fine effect.

I Am Cuba | Cuba: I Am Cuba is a film that could be categorized as a lost treasure that is periodically revived. The 1964 Soviet-Cuban film has some of the most stunning Black & White cinematography ever committed to film — dizzying tracking shots, jangly edits, and infrared film for heightened contrast. The story is Communist creaky, with four interwoven tales of impoverished workers, rebellious students, crooked police, and honorable farmer. [. . .]

Dr. No | Jamaica: Dr. No — the first James Bond film — contains one of the iconic character introductions in film history, when gorgeous Ursula Andress emerges from the sea, in a white bikini, with a dive knife strapped to her waist. Dr. No was lensed in Jamaica, with Oracabessa being the prime location. In Dr. No, Sean Connery creates what many feel is the best version of 007. This is a fast-paced, low-budget Bond, with Jamaica being shown off to great effect. To top it all off, this is the film where Bond first delivers the famous line, “…a medium dry martini, lemon peel, shaken, not stirred.”

For preview clips and more details, see

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