With a long cinematic history from the classic Lawrence of Arabia to Cloud Atlas, It’s not like you’d have to twist anyone’s arm. Italy
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Drawing on the ambience of the Mediterranean coastline in the 1950s, this is the second adaptation of the novel but the first to use the original title. With Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow on location throughout Italy, this film could quite easily be watched sans dialogue and still make you watch again. Wealthy Herbert Greenleaf recruits Ripley (Damon) to go to Italian riviera to persuade his son Dickie (Jude Law) to return to the family business on the presumption Ripley went to Harvard with Dickie. He didn’t but accepts anyway. The task of convincing Dickie to leave the luxury behind proves too tough a gig for Mr Ripley who finds the privileged Mediterranean social set far too intoxicating for a hardened New Yorker
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
If you’ve seen The Royal Tenenbaums and Grand Budapest Hotel, you’ll know that Wes Anderson’s style is all his own and he doesn’t disapoint with The Life Aquatic. His quirkier-than-life portraits this time see Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett push the boat out a bit further in a Mediterranean-set deep-sea-diving comedy modeled on the famed French marine conservationist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau. Shot mostly off the coast of Rome and Naples, Murray’s brilliant deadpan performance is the kind of comedy only a handful of comics can muster.
Spain/ Balearic islands
Over the past decade these islands have made significant investments in the film industry with two 1000m2 studios equipped with modern lighting systems, set construction workshops, storage, dressing rooms, plus makeup and hairdressing facilities all of which had a lot to do with critically acclaimed
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Taking in the areas of the Tramuntana Mountains, including the Puig Major, along with Port de Soller and Sa Calobra Cloud Atlas consists of six interrelated and interwoven stories spanning different time periods. Roger ebert gave it 5 stars
Sex and Lucia
Filmed in bleached out summer tones, Sex and Lucia is almost your classic modern Mediterranean-romantic-tragedy film that sees a young woman, Lucía (Paz Vega) who, believing her author boyfriend Lorenzo (Tristán Ulloa) has killed himself, travels to Formentera to discover the isle that he often talked about.
The French Connection (1971)
As far as Italian/American mafia/drug events-turned-films are concerned, they dont get much better than this; taking in 5 academy awards that year.
In the 1960s and ‘70s Marseille was the world’s heroin capital due to a postwar influx of Neapolitans and Corsicans leading to a rise in organised crime and links to the Italian Mafia. At that point most of the heroin illegally imported into the East Coast came to the United States through France.
The plot centers on drug smuggling and in addition to the two main protagonists, several of the fictional characters are based on real charcters. Only the opening is in the Mediterranean (Château d’If, Marseille) but still this movie is worth a watch.
Dirty rotten scoundrels (1988)
This is the third film in this list starring one of the SNL Alumni, Steve Martin who along with Micheal Caine compete against each other to swindle an American heiress out of $50,000. Considered one of the best comedy pairings ever, it has Caine playing the charming British con artist Lawrence Jamieson, who believes in conning rich yet ethically dubious people out of their money so he can spend it on high culture and a lavish lifestyle while Martin is his arrogant American rival, Freddy Benson, who believes in conning just about anyone in order to get a free meal.
Directed by Frank Oz of Blues Brothers fame (more SNL connections), it takes place in the Côte d’Azur and surrounds and though there is a musical adaptation playing in the West-end, it’s among Martins best work.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
In 1954 Alfred Hitchcock chose the Côte d’Azur to shoot what is considered one of his glossiest, most seductive films made, taking advantage of the turquoise waters and plunging coastlines in glorious Technicolor. Though not considered influential, its sunny, relaxed tempo makes it prime viewing for sun-drenched sea vistas on winding roads. Oh and there’s something about a retired cat burglar who falls for the charms of Riviera socialite Francie.
From Russia With Love 007 (1963)
Of course many Bond films have been shot in the Mediterranean but most people rate this one as the penultimate Bond with it being filmed at the height of the Cold War. Set in colourful Turkey near the Algarve beach on the coast of the Black sea, the underground chamber of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul and
Istanbul’s Sirkeci Station.
It has the usual Bond formula…’devises a plot to steal a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets and sell it back to them while exacting revenge on Bond for killing their agent Dr. No.
The blockbuster starring Russell Crowe certainly brought the world s attention to Malta with numerous films shot here since (Troy, 2004 Game of Thrones SE1). Most of that attention can be credited to the roughly 500 year old Fort Ricasoli at Valetta located on the seaward shore of the Sciberras Peninsula that divides Marsamxett Harbour from Grand Harbour. Nearby is Fort Tigné.
From 1975, part of the fort housed the National War Museum. Closed briefly in 2014 then re-opening in May 2015 with a larger collection.
Midnight Express (1978).
In 1970, Billy Hayes, an American college student was caught smuggling about 2kg of hash out of Turkey and thrown into prison. It was strapped to his chest while trying to board a plane which was exactly how the PLO were concealing explosives around the same time so naturally it was bombs they were looking for. Well done.
Based on Hayes’ memoir of prison during including his successful dash for freedom, it’s set in Turkey, though the interiors of the Sagmalcilar Prison were actually filmed at Fort St. Elmo, after permission to film in Istanbul was denied. A lot of what took place in the film did not actually happen but what is truth, really.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Based the events of a 1993 raid in Mogadishu by the U.S. military aimed at capturing faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid and the ensuing battle. Attaining critical acclaim, filming began in Kenitra in northern Morocco and is a port on the Sebou River as well as Rabat and Salé.
There have been so many excellent films made in Morocco (and some terrible ones, SATC, talking to you) that listing them here would take forever but a few notables are: Inception, American Sniper, Babel and Gladiator.