London Shoots Itself
If you’re looking for the exact spot where Kenneth More’s vintage car got its wheels stuck in the tram lines, losing him the race (South side of Westminster Bridge, if memory serves) in the film ‘Genevieve’, or need to know where the invisible tennis match took place in ‘Blow Up’ (Charlton Park, the court is still there), or perhaps the spot where Jude Law has a revelation about his girlfriend in ‘Closer’ (Postman’s Park, Little Britain) you might want to pick up some of these books.
‘London On Film’ looks at 100 years of filmmaking in the capital. It’s by Colin Sorensen, and mainly focusses on early films like ‘Underground’ and ‘Piccadilly’, but the photographs are wonderfully evocative and rather sad.
‘World Film Locations: London’ is written by several contributors and more up to date. It largely concerns postwar movies, from ‘The Long Good Friday’ to ‘The Krays’ and ’28 Days Later’. London’s film office used to be notoriously difficult about filming, which is why there were so few films shot on location in the 60s and 70s.
Best of the bunch is ‘London Film Location Guide’ by Simon RH James, with before/after comparison shots, and hundreds of films listed according to exact location, just in case you need to see every single London spot where Ray Winstone has ever threatened someone with a punch up the bracket. Greenwich and Belgravia feature heavily in period films, as does London’s most overused location, the alleyway underneath Somerset House.
For the bigger picture, try ‘The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations’ by Tony Reeves, which includes a special section on the locations of James Bond (which were scouted in advance of the scripts and inserted according to scheduling plans, so if one didn’t get used in an 007 film it would turn up in the next).
Now that CGI has blurred the lines of the past and present, it will be impossible to tell whether real locations exist in future movies. A shame, as we always liked looking out for the piles of leaves, snow and dirt that obscured double-yellow parking restrictions in period urban film shoots!