Friday, 24 September 2010

London Walks at the Pictures No.1

Having spent the whole week in the delicious darkness of London’s cinemas, London Walks’ movie expert Richard IV and his chums emerge, covered in popcorn crumbs, blinking into the light to prepare for Sunday’s London Walks Film Special. Here they pause to share a favourite London movie location.

This week, Richard IV on…



THE LONG ARM (1956)

One of the later offerings from Ealing Studios, billed as ‘The true inside story of Scotland Yard’s Crime Busters!’ A minor classic with Jack Hawkins as the embodiment of good-humoured integrity (a family man, with Dorothy Alison as his long-suffering but devoted wife, the sort of chap who has a sandwich and a pint of beer at lunch), filmed with the assistance of the Chief Commissioner of the Met with excellent location work. From the atmospheric opening shot of New Scotland Yard from Westminster Bridge at night, to the film’s climax at the then-new Royal Festival Hall (looking very isolated without any of the later structures—Hayward Gallery, BFI, etc—that now surround it), a cracking London film. A suspect is tailed around London (near the Tower, on Pall Mall), the old General Register Office at Somerset House is visited by Hawkins, a train journey ends at Euston Station. The plot is set in motion by a robbery at ‘Stone & Co.’ on Long Acre (the same building where the Itsu restaurant now occupies the ground floor). Hawkins lives in pleasant suburban Bromely. Lovely attention to detail throughout (the views of County Hall and the distant City through the windows of the studio-recreated Yard offices, for example). Assured direction from Charles Frend, who previously helmed other Ealing classics such as Scott of the Antarctic and The Cruel Sea. It follows the police procedure in a near-documentary style, has some fairly gritty moments, but never becomes tedious, thanks in part to a lively supporting cast (John Stratton, Geoffrey Keen, Glyn Houston, a young Ian Bannen).

You can buy The Long Arm on DVD HERE.

This week's Film Walk is West End on Film on Sunday 26th September at 11.00a.m meeting at St James's Park Station.

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