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Sunday September 23rd 2018

The Pink Panther | 1963

The Pink Panther filming location: Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
The Pink Panther location: the luxury ski resort: Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy | Photograph: Wikimedia / BKP

Once upon a time The Pink Panther was intended to be a glossy comedy romance centering around a suave jewel thief whose partner is married to the incompetent police inspector investigating the crimes, to have been played by Peter Ustinov.

When Ustinov dropped out, Peter Sellers stepped in, stole the movie and launched a franchise centering around the bumbling inspector.

The production was based at the famous Cinecittà Studios in Rome.

The opening sequence sets up three different threads of the story, in Rome, Paris and, very briefly, Los Angeles.

Rome is established with a shot of the distant St Peter’s Basilica, looking west along Via della Conciliazione from Lungotevere Castello on the bank of the Tiber by Castel Sant’Angelo.

‘The Phantom’ Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven), leaving behind his signature white glove, steals a cache of gems from the safe at Via del Colosseo 30 at Via Nicola Salvi, just northwest of the Colosseum, which you can see in the background.

Meanwhile in Hollywood… George Lytton (Robert Wagner), Sir Charles’ ne’er-do-well nephew escapes his debtors running across Vine Street just south of the famous junction with Hollywood Boulevard toward what is now Japanese restaurant Katsuya. He’s been posing for a fake ‘graduation’ photo. In an unusual turnabout, the ‘Hollywood’ interior was filmed in the Rome studio.

Meanwhile in Paris… Simone Clouseau (Capucine) furtively hands over the fortune in gems to a contact on Place Louis Aragon, on the western tip of Ile St Louis in the River Seine, looking toward the Pont d’Arcole. Before the police arrive, she dives into ’Hotel Carrere’, which is 53 Quai de Bourbon, and outwits them with a quick change. The old girdered Pont Saint-Louis which you can see alongside has since been modernised.

The three strands of the story come together in the luxurious winter retreat setting of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the heart of the Dolomites in northern Italy, where Sir Charles, his nephew and Mr and Mrs Clouseau all end up staying at the the Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel, Località Peziè, 103, 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The classic hotel also features in 1981 Bond classic For Your Eyes Only.

The plot revolves around an attempt to steal the titular Pink Panther, a near flawless diamond, from an Indian princess (Claudia Cardinale). When a costume ball at the princess’s villa descends into chaos, there follows the film’s brilliant set-piece car chase seen largely through the magnificently deadpan eyes of a local villager in the town square of Rocca di Papa, about 15 miles west of Rome.