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Wednesday February 1st 2023

Bad Timing | 1980

Bad Timing filming location: Cafe Landtmann, Vienna
Bad Timing location: Alex discusses relationships with the ‘foppish man’: Cafe Landtmann, Vienna

Psychoanalyst Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) calls an ambulance when he discovers Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) unconscious from a drug overdose, but Inspector Netusil (Harvey Keitel) can’t help feeling that something just doesn’t add up. He relentlessly badgers the aloof and arrogant Linden in an attempt to tease out the niggling inconsistencies in his version of events.

The story is a familiar screen theme of a controlling man in relationship with a free-spirited woman, but Nicolas Roeg’s prismatic editing turns it into a mysterious and disturbing puzzle.

Although Linden is the shrink, it’s Netusil who burrows into his psyche like a relentlessly guilty conscience. Fittingly, the movie is set in the home of psychoanalysis, the cluttered, elegant Jugendstil city of Vienna, where Sigmund Freud himself pioneered the famous ‘talking cure’. The credits feature the highly stylised paintings of Gustav Klimt and the more raw pictures of Egon Schiele.

Bad Timing filming location: Upper Belvedere, Vienna, Austria
Bad Timing location: the paintings of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele: Upper Belvedere, Vienna, Austria | Photograph: wikimedia / Peter K Burian

The gallery Milena visits with Linden to see the paintings of Klimt, is the Upper Belvedere of Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Palace and Museum), standing in acres of formal gardens toward the south of the city.

The works include The Kiss, Judith With The Head Of Holofernes and the Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer (the painting at the centre of 2015's Woman In Gold, with Helen Mirren). Spoiler alert – if you haven't seen Woman In Gold yet – be aware that this portrait is no longer in Vienna.

Milena’s typically florid apartment building was Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 2, just east of the Schönbrunn Palace, southwest of the city centre. Astonishingly, the entire building has since been demolished.

Bad Timing filming location: Stephansplatz, Vienna, Austria
Bad Timing location: Alex buys the 'Colour Test' book: Stephansplatz, Vienna, Austria

Milena impatiently demands Linden analyse her personality after he buys a 'Colour Test' book from the (now gone) St Gabriel's bookshop in the small galleria at Stephansplatz 6.

Bad Timing filming location: Stephansplatz, Vienna, Austria
Bad Timing location: Milena wants to take the personality test: Stephansplatz, Vienna, Austria

In Stephansplatz itself, before the Domkirche St Stephan (St Stephen's Cathedral), Milena excitedly chooses her favourite colours from the cards.

Bad Timing filming location: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria
Bad Timing location: Alex flees the police station: Zollamssteg, Vienna, Austria

As the investigation begins to wear him down, Linden leaves the police station at night and heads to Zollamssteg Bridge, on the eastern side of the city, crossing the River Wien (Vienna River) just south of its junction with the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), above the U4 Line rail bridge.

The footbridge, linking Schallautzerstraße with Vorderer Zollamsstraße, is now much more famous from Richard Linklater's 1995 romance Before Sunrise with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

The large, elegant coffee house, where Linden discusses Milena with the ‘foppish man’ (Daniel Massey), is the landmark Cafe Landtmann, Universitätsring 4, a historic hangout for politicians, alongside Vienna’s Burgtheater.

Bad Timing filming location: University of Vienna, Universitätsring, Vienna, Austria
Bad Timing location: Alex confronts Milena as his behaviour becomes more obsessive: University of Vienna, Universitätsring, Vienna, Austria

As Linden's controlling behaviour becomes more obsessive, he confronts Milena after seeing her talking to a young man at the University of Vienna, Main Building, Universitätsring 1, near Schottentor U-bahn station.

Bad Timing filming location: Kasbah Taourirt, Ouarzazate, Morocco
Bad Timing location: the ‘hotel’ of Alex and Milena in Morocco: Kasbah Taourirt, Ouarzazate, Morocco | Photograph: wikimedia / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Alex and Milena take a holiday in Morocco at Ouarzazate, a favourite North African location seen in films as diverse as Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah and Jewel of the Nile.

Their hotel, the ‘Palais Glaoui’ is the the Kasbah Taourirt, Avenue Mohammed V, now a museum, which featured in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky.

On a rooftop terrace overlooking the Jemaâ el Fna, the huge and bustling main square of Marrakech, Milena chooses to ignore Alex’s proposal of marriage and their relationship hits the rocks.

The Jemaâ el Fna, with its food stalls, storytellers and snake-charmers, is also featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Bad Timing filming location: Waldorf Astoria, Park Avenue, Manhattan
Bad Timing location: Alex glimpses Milena in New York: Waldorf Astoria, Park Avenue, Manhattan

In the film’s coda, Alex glimpses Milena one last time as their paths cross outside the Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, in New York.