The Saint | 1997
Val Kilmer is Simon Templar, the master criminal who has amassed almost $50 million by use of false moustaches and a string of instantly traceable names; Elizabeth Shue is Dr Emma Russell, the Oxford professor who, having solved the world’s fuel problems, carries the formula in her underwear. So much more fun for Simon than rummaging through Stephen Hawking's Y-fronts, eh?
'St Ignatius Orphanage', where the young Templar grows up, is Wyfold Court, Kingwood, just northwest of Rotherfield Peppard, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. The Grade II-listed French Gothic mansion, built in the 1870s for a wealthy cotton magnate, became a hospital but has since been converted into private apartments. Rotherfield Peppard is the village in which you can find the eponymous house from Howards End.
While Hitchcock might have floated this unlikely material effortlessly, this misfire is sunk by a soggy ballast of cod psychology. The Saint’s London base was the starry Halcyon Hotel, 81 Holland Park, W11, at the time a discreet hideaway for Hollywood royalty and visiting rock stars in Holland Park, West London, it’s since closed to become a private home.
Dr Russell works out of Queen’s College, High Street, Oxford; in order to seduce her, Templar poses opposite the white marble Shelley Memorial in University College, High Street. The statue, designed by Edward Onslow Ford, was intended for the poet Percy Shelley’s grave in the English Cemetery, Rome, but proved too large and was presented to the college by Shelley’s widow in 1894. See it in the domed chamber reached by a passageway in the northwest corner of the quad.
The exterior of the riverside pub in which Russell gets all soppy with ‘St Thomas More’ is the Trout Inn, a beautiful 17th century hostelry (where TV’s Inspector Morse downed the occasional pint, and before him, both CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll) at 195 Godstow Road, Lower Wolvercote, about three miles northwest of Oxford.
‘Berlin Templehof Airport’ is actually Lawrence Hall, originally one of the two Royal Horticultural Halls, Greycoat Street at Elverton Street, Westminster, SW1. The massive concrete arches of the hall, which was leased to Westminster School in 2011, became a Berlin airport, too, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as well as providing the venue for a neo-Fascist rally in the 1995 film of Richard III, with Ian McKellen.
The real exotic location filming is in Moscow’s Red Square, where Templar escapes from the first chase, and looking stunning illuminated at night for the would-be miraculous climax. The Moscow hotel is the 1956 ‘Stalin Gothic’-style Peking Hotel, 1/5 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street. Filming in Moscow also took place at the Foreign Affairs Ministry building; at the Aerostar Hotel and at Leningrad Station.
Interiors, though, are London again. ‘Tretiak Oil & Gas Industries Moscow HQ’, where the billionaire oil magnate stages his televised press conference, is the Draper’s Hall, Throgmorton Street, EC2 in the City of London. It became a 'Russian' interior again for GoldenEye, but is staunchly English in The King's Speech. The building is not normally open to the public, but for a weekend in September, Open House London gives you the chance to take a look inside some of the city's architectural wonders..
The ‘Russian’ hotel lobby, where Russell catches up with Templar (not too hard a task, since all his aliases are the names of Catholic saints), is the Rosewood London Hotel, 252 High Holborn, London WC1, housed in the magnificent old Pearl Assurance Building, seen also in the 1995 Richard III with Ian McKellen, the Merchant-Ivory production Howards End and The Bourne Ultimatum.
The finale, with Dr Russell revealing her secret to the world, is supposedly in Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre. The exterior is real enough, with Templar chased out past the Clarendon Building into Catte Street. The Sheldonian, surprisingly, stood in for ‘Harvard’ in Michael Cimino’s epic Western Heaven’s Gate.
Scenes were also shot at Harrow School, Greater London (which provided Hogwarts classrooms for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone); and at Fort Amhurst, Chatham, Kent, which was also seen in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.