SCENIC AND CINEMATIC: If you've been to Monterey and Carmel, and let's just assume that you have if you've been in the Golden State for any amount of time, you know that both towns, and the region they call home, is frankly nearly fake. We say this in a complimentary fashion, of course; one cannot believe that the cypress trees and otters and Cannery Row and the ruggedness of the beach-close rocks and the bucolic dells and ranches are not part of a movie studio backlot. This might come across as a mite travel-brochure-y, but, please, if you've spent time in the area, you're nodding and agreeing with us on this point. The whole area is really the cherry on top of the sundae that is California, meaning it has attracted the Hollywood set for exactly as long as there has been a Hollywood set. Not only did they come to lounge, play, and eat artichokes and crustaceans -- those are two staples of your Monterey menu, too, we hope -- but they came to make movies. Quite a few movies, too, and many of them capitalized upon that backlot-beautiful scenery the area is famous for. Ever wondered where "A Summer Place" or "Play Misty for Me" set up the cameras? Film guide Doug Lumsden leads a look-around at the settings of these films during his Monterey Movie Tour.
START IN MONTEREY: The tour coach starts in Monterey, a burg that's appeared in such films as "I Cover the Waterfront" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" (you'll remember the whales and the aquarium, Trekkers). The tour then visits the edge of Monterey Bay, Pebble Beach, and 17-Mile Drive, where "The Parent Trap" -- the original -- filmed. (Truth time: Was Brian Keith's ranch in that movie not the most gorgeous film house ever? Pretty much, save James Mason's house in "North by Northwest," which was not shot in the area, but, you know, we have to make mention.) The day wraps up 'round Carmel-by-the-Sea, where works like "Seems Like Old Times" will receive some love. It's an outing for film buffs and devotees of the area, which, we hope, constitutes most of us. Yep, Monterey and environs may seem almost too lovely to exist, but we think having a backlot-esque vibe is something rather great.