Joan Collins released from Holloway Prison

6 Feb

If the borough of Islington as we know it today was established in 1965, our Islington film location of the week has been around since 1852. Movies did not exist back then and Holloway Prison would have to wait another 100years before being the set of a film. Initially a mixed prison when it first opened in 1852, it became a women only one at the turn of the century in 1903 and has remained so to this date.

In Turn the Key Softly (1953), Director Jack Lee tells the story of three women of different backgrounds who walk out of H.M. Holloway Prison together: Monica (Yvonne Mitchell), Stella (Joan Collins) and Mrs Quilliam (Kathleen Harrison). As they are about to leave prison, Monica proposes that they should meet up later for dinner to discuss how their first day of freedom has gone.

Holloway Women’s Prison steals the show from the first second of the movie. The entire opening credits sequence is set against the backdrop of ‘Holloway Castle’ as it was known back then due to its peculiar appearance. Outside the prison one can see a few cars and trolley buses passing on Parkhurst and Camden roads on a foggy London morning.

Turn the Key Soflty - Holloway Women Prison - FILM 04

‘Holloway Castle’

Straight after the opening sequence, the first scene takes was filmed inside the prison rather than in a studio. Indeed, a ‘Thank You’ message was added to the credits: “We acknowledge, with gratitude, the help given by the Home Office, the Prison Commissioners and the Governor of H.M. Prison, Holloway”.

Turn the Key Soflty - Holloway Women Prison - FILM 01

Turn the Key Soflty - Holloway Women Prison - FILM 02

In the early 1970s, Holloway Prison met a similar fate than The Ladykillers’ Frederica Street and a new prison was built on the same spot.

Today, standing across the road, the trees seem to be the only remains of the Castle.

Turn the Key Softly - Holloway Women Prison - MRX 01

Outside of the prison not much has changed though.

When the 3 women leave prison, Stella’s fiancé is waiting for her outside. Behind him on the left, on the corner of Camden Road and Hillmarton Road is a three-floor house. This is still here and is ‘The Castle Bar’. I do not know what it is was back then, but wouldn’t be surprised to learn it had been a pub or small hotel for the families visiting their relatives and friends.

Turn the Key Soflty - Holloway Women Prison - FILM 06

Turn the Key Softly - Holloway Women Prison - MRX 02

Turn the Key Soflty - Holloway Women Prison - FILM 03

A young Joan Collins on her way to Hollywood

Last but not least, not only did Holloway Women’s Prison made it to the big screen, it also featured on the Lobby Cards used to promote the films in cinemas around the world.

Turn the Key Softly - Holloway Women Prison - Lobby Card

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at) or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Parkhurst Road N7 0NU

Caledonian Road Tube Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Camden Road and Parkhurst Road

4 Responses to “Joan Collins released from Holloway Prison”


  1. The Estorick Collection brings La Dolce Vita to Islington | Lights, Camera…Islington! - May 15, 2014

    […] actress Joan Collins, whom Lights, Camera…Islington! came across in her early career exiting Holloway Prison was by now rubbing shoulders with Jack Lemmon and Robert […]

  2. Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham’s Naughty Games in Highbury New Park | Lights, Camera…Islington! - July 24, 2014

    […] Reeve or Joan Collins to name but two. So when a twenty-year-old Joan Collins stepped out of Holloway Women’s Prison in 1953’s Turn the Key Softly she was only minutes away from her […]

  3. Yvonne Mitchell and Kathleen Harrison at Holloway Tube Station | Lights, Camera…Islington! - November 2, 2014

    […] The last time we spoke about Turn The Key Softly (1953), we saw how the historic Holloway Women’s Prison also known as ‘The Castle’ stole the show in the first minutes of the movie and how three women of different backgrounds Monica (Yvonne Mitchell), Stella (Joan Collins) and Mrs Quilliam (Kathleen Harrison) were released on the same morning. […]

  4. Meet Joe…of the Caledonian Market | Lights, Camera…Islington! - November 21, 2014

    […] Women Prison, built in 1852 as a mixed prison, featured prominently in the opening scene of Turn the Key Softly (1953) today’s post will take us to another historical Islington landmark, also opened in the […]

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