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Thursday July 18th 2024

Genevieve | 1953

Genevieve location: the De Burgh Arms, Yiewsley, Middlesex
Genevieve location: stopping for ice cream: the De Burgh Arms, Yiewsley, Greater London

Two couples enter their veteran cars – one of them a 1904 Darracq named Genevieve – in the London to Brighton car race in this classic, irresistible comedy. In fact, most of the race was shot, not on the road to the south-coast seaside resort of Brighton at all, but on roads around Pinewood Studios.

The movie kicks off in London. At the start of the Strand, on the north side, stands a startling burst of Victorian mock-gothicism, the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, where civil cases are decided. Alan McKim (John Gregson) works as a barrister at the courts, and it’s outside on the Strand that the eponymous Darracq is first seen.

Bridget Jones covers an extradition case here for TV show Sit Up Britain in Bridget Jones’s Diary, but the view of the building as a backdrop to the Lord Mayor’s Show in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1936 film Sabotage was an enormous photographic blow-up.

Genevieve location: Rutland Mews South, Knightsbridge, London
Genevieve location: the home of Alan and Wendy: Rutland Mews South, Knightsbridge, London

Further to the west of London, you can see the house of Alan and Wendy McKim (Gregson and Dinah Sheridan) at 17 Rutland Mews South, Knightsbridge. Don’t recognise it? Walk to the south of the mews and look north. The ground floor of number 17 has been revamped but the rest of the mews is recognisable. Halfway down on the right is the turnoff where Genevieve was garaged. The mews were once stables, and the name derives from the falcons that were kept there.

The same mews was later home to June ‘George’ Buckridge and Childie in The Killing Of Sister George.

Genevieve location: Anson Walk, Buckinghamshire
Genevieve location: the newsreel crew: Anson Walk, Hertfordshire

The newsreel crew films the race in front of the gates of Moor Park Golf Course, Anson Walk, on the A404, between Rickmansworth and Northwood in Hertfordshire on the old Middlesex, now London border.

The One Pin Pub, where the couples stop for a hair of the dog, could be found, until 2010, on Parish Lane at One Pin Lane in Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire. Dating from around 1800 and called The One Pin Inn since at least 1839, pub was demolished to make way for housing.

Genevieve location: the One Pin Pub, Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire
Genevieve location: hair of the dog: the (now gone) One Pin Pub, Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire

As the tricks get sneakier, the pub where the landlord flags down Ambrose (Kenneth More) to tell him (untruthfully) that the other car has had an accident, is still thriving. It's The Jolly Woodman, Littleworth Road, Burnham, north of Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire. The Jolly Woodman cropped up again on screen in 2008, when it was surprisingly used as the bustling interior of the pub on the 'Isle of Skye' in romcom Made Of Honor. It's also been featured in TV's Midsomer Murders.

Also still standing, The De Burgh Arms, High Street, Yiewsley, just south of West Drayton Station, is the pub where the two couples stop for ice cream and end up bickering again. Amazingly, the very Fifties People’s Cafe, opposite the pub, is also still thriving.

Collinswood Road, also in Hedgerley, and Common Road, Fulmer, provided more stretches of country road.

The drive, naturally, ends on the seafront at Brighton, East Sussex, the traditional seaside getaway for Londoners, featured prominently in a very different British film, Quadrophenia.

By the time of shooting, the old tramlines that used to run across London’s Westminster Bridge – where the return race climaxes – had long gone, which meant that the close-ups of jammed car wheels had to be shot on lines in Lewisham, south London.