London in film

Luke Heeley recently sent me a DVD of his London Triptych. Watching it made me think of the films I’ve enjoyed that are about and/or set in London. Not including period dramas such as Shakespeare in Love, which recreates the Elizabethan city with its brothels and playhouses, or film versions of London novels (eg. Dickens).

Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later

Horror / Apocalypse / Dystopia

28 Days Later (2002)
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Creep (2004)
Clockwork Orange (1971)
Children of Men (2006)

London’s underbelly / Socio-realism

Breaking and Entering (2006)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
My Beautiful Laundrette  (1985)
Kidulthood (2006)
Cathy Comes Home (1966)
Made in Britain (1982)

Rom Com / Crime Com / Richard E Grant

Notting Hill (1999)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Withnail & I (1987)
How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989)

And of course the recent – and brilliant – Bourne Ultimatum (2007) which used Waterloo Station as the backdrop to one of Matt Damon’s niftiest moments.

Any recommendations of others I should get my grubby mits on?


  1. Tim Wells says:

    Bronco Bullfrog – 1969 skinhead film
    Frenzy – Hitchcock comes back to London – 1972
    Piccadilly – Anna May Wong causes trouble – 1929
    Sapphire – racial tension, murder, Teddy Boys! – 1959
    Babylon – THE reggae film – 1980
    10 Rillington Place – Dicky gets creepy – 1971
    Dracula AD1972 – swinging London and Hammer Horror – 1972
    Smashing Time – Mod mayhem – 1967
    Doctor in Clover – Carnaby St high jinx – 1966

  2. Ms Baroque says:

    Then there was Layer Cake – slightly lame film, but with a great cast and wonderful grimy Tower Hamlets locations – including a great scene on a rooftop in Canary Wharf…

    Then there’s Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland, all shot in the real, busy streets with a handheld camera. Or the odious Breakig and Entering by Minghella – see my blog for review – of which which nonetheless London is pretty much the main character.

    The even more unspeakably odious About a Boy also has some great London stuff in it, including pretentious people in restaurants. Unfortunately it’s a little too pretentious itself.

    I’m sure there are more but that’s all I can tihnk of right now.

  3. permanenttourist says:

    Thanks TIm and Ms B! I am a Love Film subscriber so will check out as many as I can. Ms B, why didn’t you like Breaking and Entering? I quite enjoyed it…

  4. Simon says:

    Antonioni’s version of London in ‘Blow Up’ is unmissable.

    Despite my loathing for Poliakoff, ‘Close My Eyes’ is great on the redevelopment of Docklands.

    Keiller’s ‘London’ of course.

    Hitchcock’s ‘Sabotage’.

    ‘The Long Good Friday’, natch.

    ‘Death Line’: 1972 horror set in the Underground.

    The closing scenes of the incredible early colour film ‘The Open Road’ (viewable in the BFI’s Mediatheque: in fact there are hundreds of great long and short London films to be discovered therein).

    ‘Hangover Square’ is an interesting, Americanised view of London.

    Michael Reeves (he of ‘Witchfinder General’) made another incredible film called ‘The Sorcerors’, which has to be seen to be believed. Swinging Sixties, hypnotism, Ian Ogilvy before he became The Saint.

    Er, that’s probably enough for now…ciao

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