It was perhaps Radley’s most typical film – wildly elegant, extravagant, and erotic – and so The Rialto Report wanted to commemorate the anniversary. We decided to try and visit all the film’s locations in a single day.
The only problem? Camille 2000 was shot in Italy. There was only one solution: we got on a plane, and headed to Rome.
Rome is often call ‘The Eternal City’ – but how many of the film’s locations would still be recognizable half a century later?
Introduction – Camille 2000
Loosely inspired by Alexandre Dumas fils ‘La dame aux camélias’, Camille 2000 tells the story of Marguerite, a beautiful, sensuous woman who is addicted to sex, drugs, and money. She is kept by a wealthy man, has a string of young lovers, and hosts wild orgies in her luxurious villa. When she falls in love with the handsome bachelor Armand, he insists on absolute fidelity. Armand’s controlling father soon intervenes to end the affair, triggering a tragic turn of events.
Radley moved to Rome in the summer of 1968 to plan the film’s production. He envisaged a shoot lasting two months, starting on Monday October 28th, 1968 and finishing on December 22nd 1968, though the production schedule was eventually extended into January 1969. He used an entirely Italian cast and crew, and each day was meticulously planned and recorded in a series of detailed production memos, which listed the day’s activities to the minute.
1. Opening scene – Scalea Bruno Zevi
Camille 2000 begins with the slate displayed in front of the Scalea Bruno Zevi, a staircase on the Via delle Belle Arti, at the edge of the Villa Borghese:
The opening shot itself was taken from the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art (shown here in 2018):
This is the before and after view of the stairs (use the vertical slider to compare views):
2. Piazza del Popolo
Several scenes take place in Piazza del Popolo in central Rome (where Radley would also return to shoot scenes six years later for The Opening of Misty Beethoven). This is Radley’s panoramic shot of Piazza del Popolo, taken from the Pincio hill overlooking Rome:
Piazza del Popolo is nowadays a pedestrian-only area, unlike in 1968:
The very first shot that Radley filmed for Camille 2000 on October 28th 1968 was the scene in front of the Rosati restaurant. Rosati is still in the same location of Piazza del Popolo, though it is now a ‘ristorante’ rather than a ‘pasticceria’ (pastry shop):
Even the restaurant next door, Ristorante Bolognese, is the same as it was in 1968:
3. Picking up a passenger – Via Luisa di Savoia
Early in Camille 2000, Armand and Gaston see an attractive women driving a car alongside them – so they invite her to join them in their yellow jeep instead, much to the annoyance of a local policeman:
The scene was shot on the Via Luisa di Savoia, a street just outside the Piazza del Popolo. Fifty years later, a travel island is the only change to the road and surrounding buildings:
4. Opera staircase – Palazzo Brancaccio
One enigmatic location was a scene that took place on a staircase leading into an opera auditorium. But the staircase isn’t actually in the theater in which the opera takes place:
We eventually found it in Palazzo Brancaccio, the last noble palace built in Rome, in the late 1800s. Today it is a service staircase used by kitchen staff:
The only remaining question about the staircase was: what happened to the gold statue of a cherub that stood so prominently on the banister?
We eventually found it on display in the reception area of the same building:
Interestingly we also noted the same staircase (and the same gold statue) in William Wylers’ Oscar-winning Roman Holiday (1953) that starred Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn:
5. Opera House – Teatro Valle
One the the several set-pieces of Camille 2000 is the scene at the opera house – where Armand first meets Marguerite. The sequence was shot at Teatro Valle in Rome:
The Teatro Valle was built in 1726, and for the following two centuries regularly staged operas as well as prose comedies and, increasingly after 1830, serious melodramas. Since the middle of the 19th century however, the Teatro Valle has staged only spoken drama. Pirandello’s ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ had its world premiere in the theater in 1921.
Gaining access to the theater in 2018 is difficult as it has been occupied by a group of protestors since June 2011. The protestors consist of artists, actors, and theater works who feared rumors that the theatre was to be privatized, and would thus lose its artistic independence.
The theater has been locked up since the occupation, and only opened for a few exhibitions, occasional plays, and sporadic tours.
6. Marguerite’s house – Villa Miani
Perhaps the most frequently-used location in Camille 2000 is Villa Miani, where Marguerite lives.
The mansion, which is situated on one of the highest of Roma’s seven hills, dates back to 1873, when it was built as a strolling palace, dominated by a neoclassic building surrounded by acres of beautifully manicured gardens.
Today it is used by the Italian prime minister to entertain foreign guests, and also as a wedding event space. It is privately owned so you’ll need an appointment to visit.
Villa Miani has been used in other films over the years, including several Rialto Report favorites (though non-adult film-related films):
7. Rome house – Casina Valadier
When Armand goes to pick up Marguerite, she rebuffs him and leaves with her lover instead.
The scene takes place in front of Casina Valadier, a small round-fronted building, that is now used as a high end restaurant and cafe’.
8. Gardens – Villa Borghese
Several scenes take place in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome – featuring marble busts of notable figures from Italian and world history.
9. Marguerite and Armand walk – Piazza della Consolazione / Santa Maria della Consolazione
The scene where Marguerite and Armand are reconciled is overlooking the Santa Maria della Consolazione church.
10. Disco scene – Discoteca Scarabocchio
The disco scene was shot at Discoteca Scarabocchio at Piazza Dei Ponziani, 8/c – remarkably still open at weekends in the same location, with the name ‘Nuovo Discoteca Scarabocchio.’
11. Concert Ballroom – Palazzo Brancaccio
The film’s climax takes place in a ballroom where a Beatles-esque group plays for the revelers:
The Palazzo Brancaccio function room remains almost completely identical in 2018:
The plot action moves from the floor of the ballroom to the surrounding balcony, where Gaston confronts Marguerite:
The cast members of Camille 2000: