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Sunday July 22nd 2018

Husbands | 1970

Husbands filming location: Grand Connaught Rooms, Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London WC2
Husbands location: the West End 'hotel': Grand Connaught Rooms, Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London WC2

The cinema of John Cassavetes seems so quintessentially American that it comes as a bit of a shock to see his characters turning up in dear old Blighty.

Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Cassavetes himself are the three middle-ages mates shaken up by the death of a friend who scoot off to Europe – to London, in fact – for a manly bout of drinking, gambling, womanising and bonding. You either love or hate the jazzy, freeform, improvisational style.

The entrance to the London ‘hotel’ in which the three stay – and outside which it seems to rain continuously – is that of the Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. Originally built as a Masonic hall – to accommodate meetings and dinners of Freemasons – the Connaught isn't a hotel but a suite of function rooms for hire. Much-used location, the Freemasons’ Hall stands alongside.

Ben Kinglsey spars over lunch here with Jeremy Irons in David Jones's 1983 film of Harold Pinter's ingenious reverse-timescale stageplay Betrayal.

The casino at which the three play craps and, with varying degrees of success, hit on women, was the Sportsman Club, which stood at 3 Tottenham Court Road, the site for many years occupied by the Virgin Megastore, now a Primark store. The casino itself relocated, first to Bryanston Street, now to 16 Old Quebec Street, Marble Arch, London W1H 7AF.