Most Glamorous Movie Sets In History

Most Glamorous Movie Sets In History

Most Glamorous Movie Sets in History

Mega-studios like Warner Bros. and Universal have helped create some of the world’s most memorable (and expensive) movie sets. If a project is grand enough and has a large following, studios will pour almost anything in to it in order to deliver an eye-catching and memorable flick.

Walt Disney famously dumped almost $380 million into its Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides installation. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox isn’t far behind with its Avengers franchise, three of which cost over $320 million to produce. Clearly, the emphasis is on action-fantasy adventures. 

But not all movie sets have to be over-the-top to capture the wonder of viewers. In fact, many films, some of which stretch back to the earliest days of the silver screen, are remembered for their effortless glamor and style. Even era-specific films like 1995’s Clueless or 1960’s The Millionairess have a cult-like following for their memorable set design and costume design.

Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable films in terms of world-class visual styling.

Oceans 11 (2001): The Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Not many would associate a rag-tag group of thieves with glamour. But on the Bellagio Hotel & Casino floor, extravagance isn’t hard to come by—and Ocean’s 11 actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt soaked up the atmosphere for this 2002 crime caper. During the movie’s filming, the cast spent five weeks inside the Bellagio to film.

Each year, visitors from around the world flock to the location to play a game on the casino floor, such as roulette. Some might want to bet on a spin of the wheel and join the excitement, while others instead might want a closer look at a roulette board layout before they finalize their betting strategy. 

Whether looking for thrills or wanting to try out a tactic like the Martingale system, visitors are welcomed into a decadent experience. Beyond the glamour of the casino floor, The Bellagio is also home to works of art by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, and is home to a Fabergé Egg. Its fountain, which was an important element in Oceans 11, is also one of the most expensive water shows in the world.

Spencer (2021): Nordkirchen Castle and Schlosshotel Kronberg

Whether audiences loved this historical psychological drama or hated it, there’s one clear star in the film: the set. The film, which explores a short period of Princess Diana’s life, challenged producers to emulate a royal castle and estate—all without stepping foot into one of England’s palaces.

Instead, they headed to Germany to create a sense of opulent loneliness… emphasis on the opulent. Producers went to Nordkirchen Castle and Schlosshotel Kronberg, two estates located outside of Frankfurt which were each adapted for interior scenes.

The greatest challenge was infusing each with a sense of British design, especially considering Germany was the domain of neoclassic and Gothic architecture. Regardless of these struggles, the film benefitted from this attention to detail—even down to a red-felted snooker table.


Funny Girl (1968): Thornton Gardens

Back in 1968, Barbara Streisand reprised her Broadway Role for the film Funny Girl. Still hailed as a cult hit today for its stylish costumes and catchy tunes, such as ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’, the movie covers the rising stardom of a Broadway actress and her on-again-off-again boyfriend. The simple plot lends itself well to a decadent range of visuals.

In fact, the film has had such a lasting effect on filmmakers that the US Library of Congress selected it to be preserved in its National Film Registry. Along with the movie’s historic and cultural worth, the Library of Congress also called Funny Girl ‘aesthetically significant’. 

The film is set in New York City, but many of the most extravagant scenes were filmed in San Marino, California at a Tudor-style mansion. Known as Thornton Gardens, its interior includes a carved staircase, multi-layered glass windows, and an endless array of ornate wood carvings. In addition to the glamorous surroundings, Streisand’s character is remembered for her luxurious gowns, which include plenty of furs and rhinestones.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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