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Thursday September 20th 2018

Stage Fright | 1950

Stage Fright film location: Shepherds Tavern, Shepherd Street, Mayfair, London
Stage Fright film location: Eve Gillmeets the detective: Shepherds Tavern, Shepherd Street, Mayfair, London

Lightweight Hitchcock, with Eve Gill (Jane Wyman, obstinately refusing to look too plain alongside the ineffably glam Marlene Dietrich) taking a maid's job to investigate the murder of which her friend Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) has been accused.

Hitchcock returned from Hollywood to his native London to film this backstage murder mystery, which infuriated cinematic purists no end by breaking the rules and cheating in a flashback sequence. It sets the scene with a safety curtain rising on a view of St Paul's Cathedral towering above the post-war rubble.

Stage Fright film location: RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gower Street, London
Stage Fright film location: Richard Todd eludes the police: RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gower Street, London

Cooper eludes the police by crashing Eve's acting class at RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 62-64 Gower Street, WC1. One of the most famous drama schools in the world, RADA was founded in 1904, and its role-call of past students includes some of the most famous names in theatre and film.

Old school thesps such as Charles Laughton, Vivien Leigh and John Gielgud learned their craft here, followed by the likes of Richard Attenborough, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Hopkins, Susannah York, Michael Gambon, Diana Rigg, Ralph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh and Imelda Staunton.

Stage Fright film location: South Audley Street, Mayfair, London
Stage Fright film location: the house of Charlotte Inwood: South Audley Street, Mayfair, London

The house of Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich), scene of the murder, is 78 South Audley Street, W1, north of Tilney Street in London's swanky Mayfair district, behind Park Lane (thanks to the excellent ReelStreets site for discovering the location I originally listed was so wrong).

A few blocks to the southeast, you can still enjoy a pint at the Shepherd's Tavern, 50 Shepherd Street on the corner of Hertford Street, where Eve meets detective Detective Smith (Michael Wilding) over a brandy, following her first visit to the Inwood house. The pub was built in 1735 as a butter shop, part of the original redevelopment of the area by architect Edward Shepherd. The fortnight-long May Fair, after which the area is named, moved to Bow, East London, in 1764.

A Blue Plaque now records that Wendy Richard (fondly remembered by UK TV viewers as Miss Brahms in the 70ssitcom Are You Being Served? and a longstanding cast member of EastEnders) lived in the Shepherd's Tavern from 1948 to 1953.