Chiswick In Film: Darling

Images above: Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde in Darling

1965 romantic drama directed by John Schlesinger, written by Frederic Raphael, starring Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde

Darling  is the story of a beautiful but amoral model Diana Scott (Julie Christie) who sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties. Described as ‘flashy’ and ‘cynical’ by critics, the film was a big success, especially in the US, and won a stack of awards.

The film is very much a London film, with scenes in Piccadilly (she shoplifts in Fortnum and Mason), Hampstead and Gloucester Rd, although she does also take a trip to Capri.

The connection with Chiswick is a scene where she is flirting with her married lover Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde) on the foreshore at Strand on the Green. In the background is the Bull’s Head and what was then a row of dilapidated cottages beside it.

As she skips up the Strand she declares: “Oh how I’d love to live here”.

Images above: Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde at Strand on the Green filming Darling


Diana is a beautiful, bored young model married to Tony Bridges (Trevor Bowen). She meets Robert Gold, a literary interviewer and director for television arts programmes, when he vox pops her in the street about young people’s attitudes to convention. He invites her to watch the final edit in the TV studio.

He is also married and they conduct their affair in hotel rooms until they both leave their respective spouses (and in his case children) to move in together. He introduces her to the trendy London media / arts set, where she meets advertising executive Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey) and moves on to him.

Images above: Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde at Strand on the Green filming Darling

Miles Brand gets her a part in a film and an advertising campaign and takes her to Paris. She is now becoming famous in her own right, working with gay photographer Malcolm (Roland Curram) who has created her ‘look’ and becomes a true friend.

Her next liason is with an Italian, prince, Cesare (José Luis de Villalonga), who she marries, but happiness remains elusive.

Image above: Laurence Harvey and Julie Christie


Julie Christie became an icon of the sixties. While Billy Liar (1963) was her breakthrough film, Darling (1965) was the one which brought her to international attention. That same year she also starred in Doctor Zhivago, which became the eigth highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation). Her success continued into the 1970s with films such as Far From the Madding Crowd, The Go-Between and Don’t Look Now.

Dirk Bogarde was already a big star, having made his name in the 1950s with films such as The Blue Lamp (1950), Doctor in the House, the Doctor series 1954-1963 and the critically acclaimed Victim in 1961.

He had won the BAFTA award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Servant in 1963 (which also has scenes set in Chiswick) and won it again for Darling. He carried on making hit films in the ’60s and ’70s (Accident 1967, The Dammed 1969, Death in Venice 1971, The Night Porter 1974, A Bridge Too Far 1977 and Despair 1978) before starting a second career as an author. He wrote a series of 15 best-selling books—nine volumes of memoirs and six novels, as well as essays, reviews, poetry and collected journalism.


The film won three Oscars: Best Actress – Julie Christie; Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – Frederic Raphael; Best Costume Design – Julie Harris.

It won four BAFTAs: Best British Actor – Dirk Bogarde; Best British Actress – Julie Christie; Best British Screenplay – Frederic Raphael; Best British Art Direction, Black-and-White – Ray Simm.

It won a Golden Globe for Best English-Language Foreign Film.

The New York Film Critics awarded it Best Film, Best Director – John Schlesinger and Best Actress – Julie Christie.

The Writers Guild of Great Britain awarded it Best British Comedy Screenplay – Frederic Raphael and Outstanding British Original Screenplay – Frederic Raphael.

Darling is also ranked 83 in the BFI’s list of the Top 100 films.

British director John Schlesinger had worked with Julie Christie when he directed Billy Liar and worked with her again on Far from the Madding Crowd. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director three times, for Darling (1965) Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971). He won if for Midnight Cowboy.

Chiswick In Film festival 2022

Darling was screened as part of the first Chiswick In Film festival in October 2022, with a short talk by Dennis Firminger, former LB Hounslow film officer, about the films which have been shot in Chiswick and an introduction from BAFTA winning film editor, reviewer and Chiswick resident Andrea Carnevali.

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