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Saturday May 18th 2024

Ronin | 1998

Ronin location: Blue Sky, Montmartre, Paris
Ronin location: The Montmartre steps and the bar: Blue Sky (since demolished), Montmartre, Paris

Back in the 60s, John Frankenheimer was a major player, with films such as The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds and The Birdman of Alcatraz to his credit. Then he seemed to lose his way (even taking over the disastrous Island of Dr Moreau in 1996). Before his death in 2002, he enjoyed a brief return to form with this classy thriller, boasting tough, spare dialogue by an uncredited David Mamet.

Set in France, mainly around Paris, the opening scene is, of course, Montmartre, Paris. The steep flight of steps down which Sam (Robert de Niro) cautiously makes his way is rue Drevet.

At the foot of the steps, the ‘Bar de Montmartre’, where the crew meets up, was TexMex restaurant Blue Sky, rue des Trois Frères. If you watch carefully, you’ll see a crafty cut (as extras pass in front of the camera) to a studio set of the bar, recreated at the Studios Éclair in Epinay. This explains why Sam can comfortably walk alongside the steps but you can’t. Sadly, as of 2015, it seems that the distinctive bar has been demolished.

Sam and Vincent (Jean Reno) have reservations as the crew is led into ambush in tunnel beneath the elaborate Pont Alexandre III after a meeting on Port du Gros Caillou. Seamus (Jonathan Pryce) contacts Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) on the escalator at Port de Lilas metro.

The quest for the mysterious suitcase (it’s a MacGuffin, it doesn’t need explaining) moves way to the South of France, to Nice, though the hotel in which Sam and Deirdre check out the prey is the Majestic Barrière, 10 la Croisette, along the coast in Cannes, which was conveniently closed for renovation.

Ronin location: Villefranche-sur-Mer, South of France
Ronin location: The frantic car chase: Villefranche-sur-Mer, South of France

The villa where the case is held is at La Turbie, above Monte Carlo, and the subsequent attack on the car and chase are in the beautiful seafront village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, between Nice and Monaco. The picturesque village, with its maze of narrow streets has been seen in many films, including Bond movie Never Say Never Again.

It’s back to Paris for the thunderous car chase, through streets south of Les Invalides, along avenue Duquesne, avenue de Ségur and avenue de Breteuil; through the Champerret Tunnel, toward the great modernistic arch at La Defense, driving the wrong way against 300 stunt drivers along the Périphérique, ring road.

The final showdown is at an ice-show in the 6,000-seat concert hall Le Zenith, 211 avenue Jean-Jaurès, on the eastern edge of Paris in the middle of La Villette park.