Amsterdam Chase Scenes

For some reason I’m enjoying chase scenes set in Amsterdam. Perhaps I am being chased? Or am I chasing something? Or I just want to experience this city in a more speedy way? Regardless, I’ll try not to read too much into it.

The oldest clip comes from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940). Since he was filming it at the dawn of WWII, Hitchcock was forced to ask Hollywood set-builders to build a fake Amsterdam complete with ‘a few hotels, a Dutch windmill and a bit of the Dutch countryside’. It resulted in an 80-metre windmill and a 10-acre reconstruction of an Amsterdam square (with Hotel L’Europe becoming ‘Hotel Europe’), complete with sewer for the simulated storm scenes. The cameraman sent to get background footage in the real Amsterdam lost his equipment when his ship got torpedoed. But he did eventually film the Jordaan for the chase scene. Unfortunately after a jarring left-turn, the viewer lands in a countryside with an oddly Spanish-styled windmill (sadly, this lack of research also flawed the windmill scene in the South Park movie’s ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Bitch’ segment). However Foreign Correspondent does retain a realistic sense of location thanks to all the cheese references.

Another thriller that used Dutch stereotypes effectively was Puppet on a Chain (1971), a tale of illicit drugs and apathetic Amsterdam cops based on a book by Alistair MacLean. The chase scene begins at Muiden Castle and crosses the IJ before entering the city proper. If I remember correctly, the movie has its true climax when traditionally-dressed Volendammer ladies do a murderous clog dance all over someone’s face (will someone please load that scene onto YouTube…).

The Puppet on a String boat chase obviously inspired director Dick Maas for his Amsterdamned (1988). Maas’s boat chase is only marred by similar continuity problems as those found above in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent. Can you spot the scenes that are filmed in Amsterdam and those filmed in Utrecht?

Okay, I got to slow down.

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Posted in Uncategorized 13 years, 1 month ago at 2:12 pm.


2 Replies

  1. Talking about continuity: in Puppet on a chain the speedy boats enter the channel next to St. Nicolas Church twice and leave it twice, obviously. But the second time the exit is different. And both times it’s not the real exit. Go check.

  2. Continuity aside (‘Dam nerds), it was a fabulous chase; balletic in parts, great timing, and I laughed when the yellow boat mounted the white as they went under the magere brug.

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