The Long Good Friday | 1980
The ultimate ‘London film’? Perhaps. The Long Good Friday is certainly one of the few British thrillers that can stand up against the best from the US, as gangland boss Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) is unwittingly caught up in shady deals with the IRA.
The film opens in ‘Northern Ireland’, with Shand’s right-hand man Colin (Paul Freeman) getting involved in some very shady financial dealing. In fact, the movie was shot entirely in London (with a little ‘Irish’ scenery shot in Scotland) and ‘Fagan’s’, the bar in which Colin hits on the doomed Irish lad, is Grade II listed boozer The Salisbury, Grand Parade, Green Lanes, at the corner of St Ann’s Road, in Harringay, north London.
Its slightly faded ambience can also be seen in Richard Attenborough’s biopic Chaplin, and more recently, the pub appears under its own name as the big, bustling pub where Miranda Richardson looks for Gabriel Byrne in David Cronenberg’s Spider.
The pub was looking a bit down at heel, but in 2003 was beautifully renovated to become a real gem, offering an enticing range of draught ales and pretty good food too.
Mrs Benson collects the body of her murdered husband from Paddington Station. The station, serving Worcester and the West of England, is one of the truly great railway buildings, consisting of three vast arched spaces as awe-inspiring as any cathedral.
Take a moment to admire the swirling ironwork of the arches and the almost Moorish balconies. The station was built in 1853 from designs by the ubiquitous Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It’s now the terminus for the Heathrow Express, which will whisk you off to London’s main air terminal at top speed every 15 minutes.
The station can be seen in 1947 suspenser The October Man, with John Mills. In John Schlesinger’s 1965 satire Darling, Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde lie to their respective partners from a phone box in the station before sneaking off to a hotel. It’s here, too, that Daniel Craig meets hitman Mr Lucky in Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake.
Paddington Station is also briefly glimpsed in Performance, but the buffet where Chas (James Fox) – on the lam after a spot of freelance violence – overhears the address of Turner Purple (Mick Jagger), was that at Olympia Station in West Kensington. Of course, it's really famous as the spot where the famous Peruvian bear arrives in London, taking the name of the station. The station's platforms naturally appear in the 2014 film of Paddington, although the frontage shown is Marylebone Station.
The Aegean Pools, which stood at 2 Hale Lane, Mill Hill, NW7, was the dive pool where Colin performs high dives, before he’s offed by a young Pierce Brosnan, in his first screen appearance. The Aegean is no longer open, and also closed is the pool at Ladywell Leisure Centre, 261 Lewisham High Street, south London, where the actual murder was filmed.
St George In The East Church, 14 Cannon Street Road, Wapping E1, is the site of the Good Friday service, where Harold Shand’s mum narrowly escapes being blown up, triggering Harold’s fury and the chain of inevitable events.
The interior seen, though, is that of St Patrick’s Church, Green Bank, off Dundee Street, which is a few blocks to the south.
Dundee Street runs down to the Thames near Wapping New Stairs at a stretch known as the Pool of London (which, not surprisingly, was the backdrop to Basil Dearden’s 1951 semi-documentary drama Pool of London, shot around the then bomb-damaged and now largely rebuilt area). The ‘Lion and Unicorn’ pub, another target for the mysterious bombing campaign, was a set built for the film on the riverfront here.
Italian restaurant Ask, 56-60 Wigmore Street alongside Easley’s Mews, used to be the ‘Boulevard Restaurant’. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your meal here more than Jeff (Derek Thompson), Harold Shand’s right-hand man, who gets spat on during his clandestine meeting with the shady Councillor Harris (Bryan Marshall).
The ‘Governor General’ pub, where Harold finds Billy (Nick Stringer) – “Walk to the car, Billy, or I’ll blow your spine off!” – was a real pub, long since demolished, on Whitefoot Lane in Downham, south London. The interior is the famous Thamesfront pub The Waterman's Arms, 1 Glenaffric Avenue, on the Isle of Dogs.
It's a legendary boozer, famed for its live entertainment, and once owned by writer and broadcaster Dan Farson, one of the Fifties Bohemians of Soho’s Colony Room. The Isle of Dogs, if you don't know, is not an island, but an area of East London caught in a loop of the Thames. It's serviced by the Docklands Light Railway.
The exterior of Harold’s casino is a private home, 15 Catherine Place, SW1, one of a street of handsome townhouses tucked away and forgotten in Victoria between Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace.
But the interior, where the unexploded bomb is discovered, and the lads collect their guns, is somewhere else entirely. In Pimlico, opposite Dolphin Square, glitzy Italian restaurant Villa Elephant on the River, 135 Grosvenor Road supplied the interior of the gaming club. The nightclub closed and the building stood vacant for many years before being finally demolished in 2012.
Movie actress Meryl Streep and her husband stay at the Savoy in the modern-day scenes of The French Lieutenant’s Woman; Catherine Zeta-Jones tails Sean Connery to the ‘Cryptonic’ building from here at the opening of Entrapment; and Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) stays here with Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) while trying to absolve his great-grandfather of complicity in the assassination of Abe Lincoln in National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Once a traditional turn-of-the-century hotel, the Savoy was perked up in 1929 with an unmistakable stainless steel, art-deco frontage on the Strand, the main theatre and shopping thoroughfare running east from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street and the City.
The hotel is actually an addition to the Savoy Theatre, once home to the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but since given a delicious Thirties deco makeover (now painstakingly restored after a disastrous fire in 1990), which meant that when Mike Leigh came to make Topsy-Turvy, he had to use the unchanged Richmond Theatre as a substitute.