What do you think of when you think of London films? For most people, myself included, it is probably Ealing films such as Passport to Pimlico and The Ladykillers. I asked friends on Twitter and got responses ranging from Escape the Block and Long Good Friday to Shakespeare in Love. Bit cheeky the last one I thought. But I take the point.
But there are many films that feature London extensively – and that feature Londons that are no longer here – which are equally worth seeing – whether we watch them as Londoners, film historians or those in search a good night in. In some, vanished aspects of the city are merely backdrop – intriguing if you have an eye for lost vistas or long-forgotten buildings – but in others its presence is so strong it might as well be a lead character.
I have written about ten of them for the wonderful London Historians newsletter, and am now reproducing those pieces on my blog. I do not necessarily claim all these to be classics, although I would say that Pool of London and, in particular, Night and the City, most definitely are. But these films, and many others like them, are as much a part of our city’s heritage as Hogarth, Dickens and Wren. They deserve to live on in our collective memories.
NB I am indebted to the excellent Reel Streets website for details of filming locations.
The ten films I have written about are: Night and the City, Pool of London, No Trees in the Street, The Boy and the Bridge, London Belongs to Me, Waterloo Road, Run for your Money, The Happy Family, St Martin’s Lane, and Underground.