The Julia Roberts-Clive Owen spy caper Duplicity gets five stars for putting luxury hotels in the limelight.
The camera caresses so many over-the-top suites where the courting rivals passionately couple that the roosts could rate third billing. "Fantastic hotel rooms," raved David Letterman during Roberts' appearance on his show to promote the film.
Ritzy hotel bedrooms play an important role because they're romantic and "the only time (the lead characters) have to be together is clandestine meetings in hotels," Duplicity location manager Rob Striem says.
The One&Only Ocean Club, a chichi hideaway on Paradise Island in the Bahamas that has hosted celebs such as Oprah Winfrey, makes an unbilled appearance as a trysting spot supposedly in the Miami area.
Roberts' and Owen's characters unite to discuss teaming up in Ocean Club's four-bedroom villa with infinity pool and sea view. It also had a seductive cameo in the 2006 remake of Casino Royale. In real life, it can be rented for $10,500 a night.
One&Only's sister resort — Atlantis, Paradise Island — gets a lot of screen time, including the Malachite Royal Suite ($6,000 and up), where the movie's dissolute young chemist stays and the casino where he drinks and gambles. Watch for Striem in a loud tropical shirt playing baccarat to the left of the drunken scientist.
Other digs that amaze are Old-World style suites set in London and Rome and a grand ballroom that's supposedly in Zurich. They don't make hotels like this anymore: polished parquet and marble, antiques, gilt, sky-high ceilings and towering flower arrangements.
Here, a little moviemaking duplicity was involved.
The London hotel scene was shot in the presidential suite of Manhattan's The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park. And the ballroom of the St. Regis Grand Hotel, Rome stands in for Zurich in a scene where Owen's and Roberts' corporate-spy characters try for a big score with Swiss businessmen, Striem says.
The fabulous quarters in Rome, where the two spend three days in bed, can't be reserved for an overnight stay.
The cafeteria and music room of the Convent of the Sacred Heart school in the historic Otto Kahn Mansion and James Burden Mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side — which can be rented for film shoots and special events — were transformed into the lavish Italian bedroom that inspires the spies to lie low, abetted by room service, and dream of living the suite life. "We brought in incredible antiques and a silk damask-upholstered custom headboard," says production designer Kevin Thompson.
"We got a copy of the script before we agreed" to be a filming site, says Ariane Pfaff, rentals manager for the Kahn-Burden mansions. Moviemakers "were very respectful."
There was concern on the school's part "about the scene being too risqué," Striem agrees. But not to worry: "There's no frontal nudity," he says. "This is a PG-13 film."