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Friday September 21st 2018

Entrapment | 1999

Entrapment filming location: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Entrapment filming location: the robbery of the ‘International Clearance Bank’: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Photograph: Wikimedia / Luke Watson

A bit of a debt to The Thomas Crown Affair, with insurance agent Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) on the trail of legendary art thief Robert MacDougal (Sean Connery), or is she? The film is curiously dated by being set in the run up to the Millennium.

The opening robbery of the Rembrandt painting from the Manhattan hi-rise is set in the familiar 101 Park Avenue, at East 40th Street, but that's about all there is of the real New York. The oddly-shaped block you'll remember as 'Clamp Tower' in Gremlins 2, as the office building in Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King and it also loomed over the climactic battle of The Avengers.

Entrapment filming location: Lloyd's Building, London EC3
Entrapment location: the ‘New York’ HQ of ‘Waverly Insurance’: Lloyd's Building, London EC3

The ‘New York’ HQ of ‘Waverly Insurance’, the insurance company at which Virginia works, is a real insurance office – but it’s in London. It’s the the Lloyd’s Building, 1 Lime Street, EC3, headquarters of the company in the City of London. You can see the unmistakable landmark tower on screen in 1998’s The Avengers (that’s the big-screen version of the 60s cult TV series, not the Marvel epic), Mike Leigh’s High Hopes, Taylor Hackford’s Proof Of Life and Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. More surprisingly, the iconic building is used as the ‘US Embassy, Hong Kong’ in Tony Scott’s Spy Game, the interior of the 'New York' company HQ in Iain Softley's 1995 Hackers, with Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, and as the planet 'Xandar' in Guardian Of The Galaxy.

Incidentally, the Lloyd’s Building was also used for some shots of the entrance to 'Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers' later in the film.

Mac is staying at the classy art deco Savoy Hotel, 1 Savoy Hill, on the Strand in London's West End.

The Savoy is the hotel of choice for the cast of the film-within-a-film in The French Lieutenant’s Woman; and for Nicolas Cage in National Treasure: Books Of Secrets; its Tea Room becomes a swanky 'New York' hotel in Made Of Honor; but it’s most famously known on screen as the scene of the abduction of Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) at the end of The Long Good Friday.

Virginia tails him to the ‘Cryptonic’ building, which is Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street (originally the national Westminster Tower) and, until Canary Wharf was built, famously the tallest building in London. It’s not seen too often on screen, but is featured in 2000 druggy thriller Sorted and 2000 druggy comedy Saving Grace, with Brenda Blethyn taking up dope dealing.

Testing her skills and trustworthiness, Mac takes Virginia to steal a Chinese vase from an 'antique store', which turns out to be on Park Street, Borough, London SE1. The famously photogenic street is featured in Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Merchant-Ivory’s Howards End, as well as 102 Dalmatians, Keep The Aspidistra Flying and Different For Girls.

When the robbery doesn’t quite go according to plan, Mac and Virginia drive off through Borough Market – the screen haunt of Bridget in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The entrance of the hi-rise to which Mac takes Virginia is that of 125 Old Broad Street (still usually known by its old name of Stock Exchange Tower – though the Exchange moved out in 2004), but when the camera pans up, the concrete tower topped by a helipad was the International Press Centre, which stood at 76 Shoe Lane, Holborn EC4 until being demolished in 2014 to make way for the glitzy 1 New Street Square.

Entrapment filming location: Duart Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Entrapment filming location: Mac's remote castle: Duart Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland | Photograph: Wikimedia / Robert Guthrie

Like any self-respecting, successful art thief, Mac has his own private castle, in Scotland, naturally, where he trains Virginia for the robbery of a priceless Chinese mask from ‘Bedford Palace’.

The remote pile is Duart Castle, on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. The original 13th Century castle, seat of the Clan MacLean, was destroyed in the 17th Century, but restored after being bought by Sir Fitzroy Donald MacLean, the 26th Chief of the Clan, in 1911. It's now open to visitors during the summer months. You can reach the island by ferry from Oban, Lochaline and Kilchoan.

The castle was previously seen, fittingly, in the 1971 Alistair MacLean adaptation When Eight Bells Toll, with Anthony Hopkins.

Entrapment filming location: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Entrapment location: stealing the mask from ‘Bedford Palace’: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Alexanderm14

The fictitious 'Bedford Palace' turns out to be Blenheim Palace, in the village of Woodstock, eight miles north of Oxford, Oxfordshire.

The vast Baroque mansion, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 18th century, was the birthplace and childhood home of Sir Winston Churchill. The house and its extensive grounds are now open to the public.

On screen, Blenheim was previously owned by Sean Connery, in the person of Sir August de Wynter, when it masqueraded as 'Hallucinogen Hall' in Jeremiah Chechik’s 1998 film of The Avengers. It also became 'Elsinore' in Kenneth Branagh's epic 1996 version of Hamlet, the palace of King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann) in The Young Victoria, a college in 2001 Hindi family melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... and the 'Italian palazzo' infiltrated by James Bond in Spectre.

The really big job turns out to be an electronic money heist taking advantage of the brief shutdown for Millennium eve in Malaysia.

The ‘International Clearance Bank’ is, of course, the twin Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur.

All isn't quite as it seems, though. The Kuala Lumpur skyline was digitally added to tower over the busy waterways of a rickety village in the state of Malacca, some hundred miles away. Malaysia’s Prime Minister was mightily displeased that such a downmarket neighbourhood was presented as being so close to the prestigious Towers.

And ‘Pudu’ railway station to the east of Kuala Lumpur, on the platforms of which the Virginia-Mac relationship is finally resolved, is actually Bukit Jalil Station, a few miles to the south.