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Saturday May 18th 2024

Darling | 1965

Darling location: Villa Medici Poggio a Caiano, Tuscany, Italy
Darling location: Diana Scott’s Italian palazzo: Villa Medici Poggio a Caiano, Tuscany, Italy | Photograph: iStockphoto / Maui01

Julie Christie won an Oscar early in her career, as the ambitious actress ending up as – would you believe? – 'Princess Diana' trapped in a loveless marriage, in this satisfyingly cynical satire from John Schlesinger.

Darling location: Strand on the Green, Chiswick, London
Darling location: Diana Scott and Robert Gold on the Thames foreshore: Strand on the Green, Chiswick, London

Diana Scott (Christie) flirts with TV producer Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde) (in a part originally written as a US columnist and intended for Montgomery Clift) on the muddy Thames foreshore by Strand on the Green at Chiswick, W4. The pair fantasise about living in, what were then, empty and dilapidated cottages alongside The Bull’s Head pub. As you can imagine, these waterfront homes are no longer quite so run down. Just to the west, beyond the rail bridge in he background, stands the waterfront City Barge pub, seen in the Beatles’ second film, Help.

Darling location: South End Road, Hampstead, London
Darling location: the home of TV reporter Robert Gold and his family: South End Road, Hampstead, London

Gold's family home facing Hampstead Heath, where Diana spies on him and his wife, is Jasper House, 106 South End Road, at Downshire Hill, South End Green, NW3.

Diana Scott and Gold lie to their respective partners from a phone box in Paddington Station, before sneaking off to a hotel together.

Darling location: Emperor's Gate, Gloucester Road, London
Darling location: Diana Scott moves in with TV reporter Gold: Emperor’s Gate, Gloucester Road, London

The couple set up home together in a first-floor flat at 36 Emperor’s Gate, SW7, a cul-de-sac just north of Gloucester Road tube station. How swinging was this neighbourhood in those days? John Lennon lived with his first wife Cynthia in a flat (since demolished) at number 13.

But it’s not long before Diana is hooking up with Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey) at his pad in the classy apartment block at 40-41 Wimpole Street, W1.

Darling filming location: Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London
Darling filming location: Diana Scott goes shoplifting: Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London

Diana and camp photographer Malcolm (Roland Curram) shoplift a bagful of luxury foods from posh grocery store Fortnum and Mason, 181 Piccadilly. Read the shop’s history from its humble beginnings in 1707. The musical Fortnum’s clock on the store's frontage, with its animated figures, dates from only 1964.

You can seethe interior of the store again in the 1992 Merchant-Ivory adaptation of EM Forster’s Howards End.

Diana enjoys a brief holiday with Malcolm on the isle of Capri, a luxury resort island off the Italian coast on the south side of the Gulf of Naples. The island of Capri is also the setting for Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Le M├ępris (Contempt).

In a blaze of newsreel publicity, she finally marries a Roman prince (José Luis de Vilallonga). Now trapped in her beautiful Italian palazzo, she’s condemned to live unhappily ever after. Her luxurious estate is the Villa Medici Poggio a Caiano, Piazza dei Medici, at the foot of the Albano hills in Tuscany. Supposedly the only surviving building commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent, built between 1485 and 1520, and home to generations of the Medici family, it became a summer residence of King Victor Emmanuele II. It has since been turned over to the state and is now open as a museum.

The film ends back in London, with an old woman plaintively singing Santa Lucia on the steps of the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain – which you probably know as 'the statue of Eros' – in the centre of Piccadilly Circus.