Last Tango In Paris | 1972
Plenty of real Paris locations in Bernardo Bertolucci’s tragic romance, notorious for its (at the time) scenes of explicit sexuality, though more shocking for its emotional nakedness, with a blistering performance from Marlon Brando as a tormented American widower adrift in Europe.
It’s lusciously photographed on location around Paris by Vittorio Storaro, and one of those movies so rooted in its sense of place that visiting the locations feels like stepping in to the world of the film itself.
The distraught Paul (Brando) meets stranger Jeanne (Maria Schneider) on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, in the 15th and 16th arrondissements. Originally the Passy Viaduct, this strikingly photogenic double-decker road-and-rail bridge was renamed in 1949 to commemorate battles against Rommel in the Libyan desert. See it also in Louis Malle’s Ascenseur Pour l’Echafaud (Lift to the Scaffold) and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Trois Couleurs: Bleu and, of course, magically unfolding in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
‘1 rue Jules Verne’, the apartment in which Paul and Jeanne energetically consummate the perversely anonymous romance, is 1 rue de l’Alboni at the end of the bridge in Passy. The wrought iron doorway can be seen at the top of the steps at the northern end of the bridge.
At the foot of the steps you’ll recognise, somewhat revamped, the bar from which Jeanne makes a phone call. It’s the Kennedy Eiffel Bar, avenue du President Kennedy.
The salon, in which Paul and Jeanne disrupt the tango competition at the movie’s climax, was the old, neo-Classical Salle Wagram, 39 avenue de Wagram, just down the road from Étoile.
The origin of the Salle Wagram goes back to 1812, when a M. Dourlans set up an open-air dance hall, outside the old city walls between the Étoile and the Le Roule gates. The success of the Bal Dourlans, which became the Bal Wagram, encouraged Dourlans to adapt the garden into bosquets d'amour (lovers' arbours) and then, under the reign of Napoleon III, commissioned the architect Adrien Alphonse Fleuret (who built the Marigny Theatre) to draw up plans for an elegant new hall which, opened in 1865, is the hall in use today. The exterior was recently redeveloped, but the salon interior has been restored to its original chandeliered splendour.