All the Colours of the Dark: The London Locations

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

This post was originally posted on the Shameless Films website in commemoration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. You can order the Shameless Blu-Ray of All the Colours of the Dark here

In a filone characterised by exotic locales, typically of European extraction, few Italian directors managed to capture the atmosphere and authenticity of their foreign set productions than Sergio Martino in his 1972 London set giallo, All the Colours of the Dark — a giallo that manages to instil a thoroughly British sensibility in its baroque tale of Satanic cults and psychological trauma. The production, partly borne from Martino’s experience filming abroad, would capture the Italian appetite for foreign set thrillers taking pace in glamorous international locales, giving an insight into cosmopolitan European cities further afield.

Martino first visited London in 1968 during the production of Marcello Avalone’s L'altra faccia del peccato, which Martino associate produced alongside his brother, Luciano who served as the film’s producer. Embracing the distinct charm of the capital, Martino would return to the city, three years later in 1971, with the first in his series of seventies gialli, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail starring George Hilton and Anita Strindberg which was partially set in the city. In the autumn of 1971, Martino returned to London to shoot All the Colours of the Dark but despite his familiarity with the city, Martino had originally considered Ireland, or more specifically Dublin, as a potential filming location (as seen in Giuliano Montaldo’s Sacco and Vanzetti and Riccardo Freda’s The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire shot in 1970 and 1971 respectively). Ireland was a cheaper option to film in than England but Martino ultimately decided upon London, in part due to his inability to find a suitable flat complex with a lift to film in in Dublin. Familiar with London and its atmosphere, Martino was content with his second choice citing the distinct atmosphere of the UK capital as a deciding factor whilst admitting that Ireland might have been slightly more atmospheric as a location. Yet, despite being Martino’s second choice, London proved to be the perfect setting for his tale of satanic mystery. All the Colours of the Dark, filmed in the latter half of 1971, is detached from the more psychedelic portrayals of the city associated with the cinema of the Swinging Sixties. Instead, Martino’s take on the capital is all together more austere, embracing the autumnal landscape of the capital and its architecture to create a distinctly British atmosphere that proves to be one of the film’s greatest assets. 

The vast majority of All the Colours of the Dark’s exterior shots were filmed in the capital with a few notable exceptions. In this piece I will detail some of the film’s most memorable settings and their various locations in, and outside of, London.

Kenilworth Court

Jane Harrison and her partner Richard reside in a distinctive and grandiose flat block in London which is characterised by stone balconies and architraves, Dutch gables and detailed brickwork. It’s an impressive, imposing building which Martino and cinematographers, Giancarlo Ferrando and Miguel Fernández Mila, make the most of with high and low angled shots alongside sweeping long shots which display the building’s dramatic architecture. The location of said flat was the prestigious Kenilworth Court — located in Putney — an impressive Edwardian construction consisting of 8 flat blocks surrounding a communal garden. It was built in the early 1900s by architect R. C. Overton and was designed to predominantly house families who would reside in the complexes’ 150 ported flats. The prestigious address attracted several notable persons including Fred Russell, the father of modern ventriloquism, and Lord Hugh Jenkins, the MP for Putney and Minister for the Arts. 

What makes Kenilworth Court such an effective location in All the Colours of the Dark is the way in which the architecture of the building adds to the film’s building sense of paranoia and dread. Throughout the film, via Ferrando and Mila’s voyeuristic photography, we get the sense that Jane is continuously being watched even when in the supposed sanctity of her own home. The residents of Kenilworth Court, like Mary, live one on top of the other and are frequently shown to be keeping tabs on Jane, peering through their net curtains and loitering in stairwells and hallways. Again, as mentioned, low and high angled shots contribute to this idea, with residents looking up and down on one another, interrupting the privacy of intimate moments such as a kiss between lovers. 

The London location of All the Colours of the Dark is integral to the film’s distinctive atmosphere and Kenilworth Court with its reddened brown brickwork, green communal space and car park full of British motor vehicles reflects the Britishness of Martino’s film as well as complementing the film’s autumnal colour palette.

Aldwych Tubę Station

After Jane’s arduous psychiatric appointment with Dr Burton, she waits at a deserted tube platform — bar a solitary, unnervingly still commuter — to get the train back home to her flat in Kenilworth Court. The signage in the station shows that we are at the Aldwych tube platform, a station no longer in operation in the present day. 

Aldwych was — and still proves to be — a popular filming locale for film scenes that take place in the London Underground. In the present day, this is due to Aldwych station’s closure in 1994 as a functioning tube station allowing the likes of film crews for Creep (Smith, 2004), V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2006) and 28 Weeks Later (Fresnadillo, 2007) to film inside with ease. As the station didn’t operate outside of peak hours during the filming of All the Colours of the Dark in 1971, it was considered to be an ideal location for night shoots with films such as Death Line (Sherman, 1972) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (Furie, 1987) making the most of the station’s limited operating hours.

During filming, the section of the track at Aldwych was operational so Jane’s journey on the tube is contained to that specific location, this can be seen when the train slows at the supposed next station and the signage for Aldwych is still present. Jane’s short ride on the tube presents an interesting snapshot of the London Underground in the early 1970s with various adverts, notices and interior detailing on display. Jane sits across from a middle class family who exit at the next station, leaving her alone with Mark. It’s interesting to note at this juncture that Martino was pleased with the selection of extras cast in All the Colours of the Dark. The director wanted his film to be populated by a cast of extras with a distinct British look with characterful faces in a move away from the Mediterranean faces that typically populated the giallo. Again, this brings authenticity to the London setting, particularly in the way that such extras are dressed.

Holland Park in Lansdowne Road

Jane hastily exits the tube after her encounter with Mark and flees from the station. The station signage is clearly shown indicating where we are, Holland Park Station. In the present day, Holland Park Station - located on Lansdowne Road - still exists but the entrance to the station is in a different location, with the one Jane exits from now no longer accessible. In reality, it would have taken Jane nearly an hour to walk (or run!) from Holland Park station to Bishops Park (her next location) on foot. 

Bishops Park

Jane Harrison’s autumnal stroll was filmed at the aforementioned Bishops Park in London, a park located ten minutes away from Jane’s flat in Kenilworth Court. The park was also used as a filming location for The Omen (Donner, 1976) in which Robert Thorn walks through the park before meeting with Father Brennan. The distinct railings in Bishops Park are prominent in both films and the manner in which Fenech and Peck are filmed walking through said location echo one another, taking on a pensive, solitary mood. Whilst, Jane Harrison’s walk through the park provides cinematic respite from the London Underground scene, it also conveys the autumnal landscape of London where the crunch of fallen amber and tawny leaves set against Jane’s knee high boots and layered wardrobe gives a tangible sense of London on an overcast Autumn day. 

Roland Gardens 

Lawyer, Francis Clay, asks to meet with Jane at Roland House, a name which gives away its location in Roland Gardens, South Kensington. Jane pulls up to the address and once again, the Britishness of All the Colours of the Dark is highlighted via Jane’s choice of vehicle, a suitably English, 1967 Austin Mini. Clay’s office is located in a late 1800s townhouse, now converted into flats and offices. The respectable veneer of the prestigious neighbourhood, characterised by wrought iron railings and ornate doorways hides, hides the macabre omen inside - an animal skull which rolls down the winding stairs before Mark presents himself to Jane and launches his attack. Jane promptly escapes, giving a wider view of the street and its British amenities like a pillarbox red Royal Mail postbox. 

Wykehurst Place 

Whilst the vast majority of All the Colour of the Dark’s locations were set and filmed within London, the Gothic headquarters of the Satanic Cult that Jane becomes embroiled in were located further afield, filmed at Wykehurst Place in Bolney, West Sussex. Wykehurst Place, also referred to as Wykehurst Park, is a Gothic Revival mansion, designed by Edward Middleton Barry, which pays architectural homage to the chateaux of the Loire Valley filtered through a grandiose Gothic sensibility. During the time of All the Colour of the Dark’s filming, the mansion had fallen into a state of disrepair which arguably added to its authenticity as a location for horror cinema. One of the most notable architectural features of the building, beyond its impressive turrets and stone work, is the pair of griffins which sit imposingly at the property’s wrought iron gates and in relation to the Italian horror cinema, recall Lucio Fulci’s London set giallo, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) location, Woburn Abbey. 

Wykehurst Place proved to be a popular setting for film productions with several films shot at the sprawling Gothic estate in the 1960s and 1970s. Hammer’s Demons of the Mind (Sykes, 1972) and The Legend of Hell House (Hough, 1973) were both shot at the mansion, making the most of the imposing Gothic architecture to instil a sense of dread in their respective audiences. All the Colours of the Dark wasn’t the only Italian genre film to utilise Wykehurst Place as a setting, in 1977 Alberto De Martino shot scenes at the location in his Kirk Douglas helmed science-fiction cum horror film, Holocaust 2000. 

The Anchor Pub

It feels fitting that a London set giallo should feature a traditional British pub and when in the capital scouting locations, Martino stumbled across one of Bankside’s oldest taverns — The Anchor located in the borough of Southwark. Jane and Richard share a drink and a cigarette at the location, sitting either side of a window which looks out onto the Thames. Despite a smoking ban now in enforcement, The Anchor remains largely unchanged from Edwige Fenech’s days as a wine drinking patron bar a few minor changes. The window frames, seen in the establishing shots of the premises, are now painted pillarbox red as opposed to the more traditional white wooden frames present in 1971. The age of the building was as apparent then as it is now with its thick wooden beams and traditional brickwork. These architectural features bring authenticity to a film trying to capture the rich atmosphere of London and its historic past and have a transformative quality, immersing the audience in its London set locations. 

Dr Burton’s Country Home

The country home of Dr Burton is a clever example of effective location scouting in which a house in an entirely different setting architecturally matches the setting it is trying to ape. Dr Burton’s house in the film is purportedly located in the greater London area but in reality, these scenes were filmed not in the UK but in Italy. As was the case with the vast majority of internationally shot Italian films of the 1970s, Italian locations were frequently used as dupes for more exotic climbs. Cutting between said locations would give the illusion of events taking place within the same city or country. Whilst the vast majority of scenes were filmed at London locations, Martino scouted a villa in the Rome Metropolitan area for Burton’s country home. Burton’s country home echoes the often reviled mock Tudor architecture that is typically associated with the architectural heritage of the United Kingdom. Architecturally, the villa greatly differs from the more traditional styled villas one would expect to see in the Rome Metropolitan area. The interior is also reflective of what would be considered to be more anglicised, or Mock Tudor, examples of architecture with extensive heavy oak panelling, multi-paned windows and stone fireplaces. Set designer, Giorgio Bertolini, adds to the credibility of the Roman villa’s purported English location via various pieces of British paraphernalia such as ceramic teapots, a copy of the News of the World and most notably a 1953 card commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 

In the All the Colours of the Dark Shameless featurette, Dark is the Colour, Martino recounts how the scene with Fenech and Navarro in the London taxi was filmed on the grounds of the leafy estate in Rome, emulating the look of British parkland, with the signature London taxi cab giving added credence to the authenticity of the location. 

Whilst one of many internationally shot gialli of the 1970s, there’s few examples of the filone that manage to convey their setting as effectively as Martino’s All the Colours of the Dark. Through the deployment of effective production design, location scouting and technical prowess, Martino manages to create a distinctive world that leans into its British location whilst playing with the more baroque and fantastical hallmarks of the Italian giallo.

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