Anthony Bourdain during the Peabody interview for "Parts Unknown." - photo by Peabody Awards under CC BY 2.0
Anthony Bourdain during the Peabody interview for "Parts Unknown." - photo by Peabody Awards under CC BY 2.0


On his shows, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain often made references to moves. Here are some of Bourdain’s favourite movies and his television show episodes that they have influenced:

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: Apocalypse Now

Director: Francis Coppola
Starring: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne, Dennis Hopper
Genre: Epic War
Year: 1979

Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novel, “Heart of Darkness”, “Apocalypse Now” was set in Vietnam, instead of Congo. Anthony Bourdain visited both countries in his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown.

Apocalypse Now on Parts Unknown Asturias, Spain

On Parts Unknown Asturias, Spain, Bourdain and his friend, Chef José Andrés recreate a scene from “Apocalypse Now” as a cartoon. The cartoon clip also featured their friend, Chef Éric Ripert. While in the Asturias, Bourdain had a meal with the movie’s director, Francis Ford Coppola, in Coppola’s boutique hotel, Palazzo Margherita. They had lampascioni, braciole di cotenna, casserole of lamb’s head, and assorted fruits and wine.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: Fitzcarraldo

Director: Werner Herzog
Starring: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, José Lewgoy
Genre: Adventure-Drama
Year: 1982

Fitzcarraldo on No Reservations Brazil (the Amazon)

No Reservations Brazil (the Amazon) opened with Anthony Bourdain cruising on riverboat playing a record from a phonograph – the same record featured on “Fitzcarraldo” in a similar scene. Bourdain even wore similar clothing to that of Klaus Kinski’s character on that similar scene from the movie.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: GoodFellas

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
Genre:  Drama-Crime
Year: 1990

“GoodFellas” is a gangster film set in New York. It follows the story of friends who start as petty criminals who rise to being gangsters.

GoodFellas on Parts Unknown Queens

Parts Unknown Queens examined the multi-cultural facets of the easternmost New York City borough. In this episode, Anthony Bourdain visited one of the “GoodFellas” bars: Neir’s Tavern. He and one of the tavern’s owners discussed the bar scene from the movie over drinks.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: In the Mood for Love

Director: Wong Kar-wai
Starring: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung
Genre: Romantic Drama
Year: 2000

In the Mood for Love on Parts Unknown Hong Kong

Anthony Bourdain worked with Christopher Doyle for this episode. Christopher Doyle is one of the cinematographers for “In the Mood for Love”. One can notice the lingering and intimate close ups by Doyle, reminiscent of the shots made on “In the Mood for Love” and other Wong Kar-wai movies. In this episode, Bourdain made several references to Wong Kar-wai, such as over Beef Brisket noodle with Doyle, and over Drunken Chicken and Claypot Fish Tripe with the owner of a dai pai dong where he dined.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: La Dolce Vita

Director: Federico Fellini
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux, Alain Cuny, Annibale Ninchi, Magali Noël, Lex Barker, Jacques Sernas, Nadia Gray
Genre: Comedy-Drama
Year: 1960

A film by Federico Fellini about a restless reporter who drifts through life while in Rome.

La Dolce Vita on No Reservations Rome

The black and white Rome episode of No Reservations was in homage to La Dolce Vita and other films of Federico Fellini.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: Seven Samurai

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Isao Kimura, Daisuke Katō, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara, Kokuten Kōdō, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Eijirō Tōno, Jun Tatara, Atsushi Watanabe, Yoshio Kosugi, Bokuzen Hidari, Yukiko Shimazaki
Genre: Epic Samurai Drama
Year: 1954

“Seven Samurai” is one of the movies that spurred Anthony Bourdain’s fascination with Japanese culture and food.

Japan on No Reservations and Parts Unknown


Such is Bourdain’s interest in Seven Samurai and Japan that he featured the country 4 times on No Reservations. He also featured a Japanese izakaya on No Reservations New York City.  On Parts Unknown, Japan was featured 3 times.


Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: The Conformist

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Jean Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Dominique Sanda, Pierre Clémenti
Genre: Political Drama
Year: 1970

The Conformist on Parts Unknown Rome

“The Conformist” is one of the films that inspired the Rome episode of Parts Unknown. In this episode, Anthony Bourdain featured facets of Rome beyond the popular tourist attractions. For example, he is seen having Peroni Red Label while in the Jersey Shore equivalent of Rome: Ostia.

Bourdain’s Favourite Movies: The Third Man

Director: Carol Reed
Starring: Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard
Genre: Drama-Mystery Film Noir
Year: 1949

“The Third Man” is about a man investigating the death of friend, uncovering corruption in Vienna along the way.

The Third Man on No Reservations Vienna

On No Reservations Vienna, Anthony Bourdain is seen taking a ride on the Ferris wheel that was featured on “The Third Man”, where he said: “Near the end of his days, I’d be a little uncomfortable being on this thing with Orson Welles. That guy was big as a f***ing  house.”