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That’s a Wrap!

24 Jan

This post is the first one in a very long time and I write it with a certain melancholy.

Like with all movies and TV series, after months of planning, preparation, research, location scouting and filming, comes the last day of shooting and with it, the director’s final words: “That’s a wrap!”

After writing almost every week for the first 14-15 months, 2015 was a fairly quiet affair. During the first part of the year, although some posts were ready on paper, I did not have a computer. Then, when back online and roaring to go, I was offered the opportunity to move abroad for an internal promotion… and I spent August packing. End of September, after 15 years in the UK and the last 6 in Islington, I took my suitcases and head off to Spain!

I will publish the few posts drafted early 2015 but after that it will be tricky to carry on from Spain and not being able to walk around Islington to take pictures. Talking of which, the Islington Film Locations Map will now be opened to everyone who knows and wishes to share with us an Islington film location. I hope to see this map growing and growing.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by at some point, followed the blog, enjoyed it and commented on it! You never know what the future may have in mind and maybe we’ll have a Lights, Camera…Islington! sequel in a few years time but for now, it is …So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!

To Islington with Love, Xavier

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Terrace - Final Kiss - FILM

 

 

 

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Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham’s Naughty Games in Highbury New Park

24 Jul

This week, Lights, Camera…Islington! is particulary pleased to take you to an area of the borough we have not yet visited. Something quite surprising considering the strong connection to the movies this road has.

In British drama Killing Me Softly (2002) Alice (Heather Graham), is a young American who lives with her boyfriend in London and is happy in her secure and steady job. One day on her way to work she meets Adam (Joseph Fiennes), a well-known mountain climber. A passionate encounter follows that same day. Once back at home she realises that she cannot replicate the same feelings with her boyfriend. Dropping everything for Adam, the two initiate a torrid affair. Adam proposes to Alice and although she is over the moon, she starts receiving a series of calls and notes warning her about her husband’s past.

The film was mainly shot in London, and to our knowledge, there is only one Islington film location in it. Such location can actually be seen a few times in the movie but only for a few seconds each time and from close ups, making it hard to spot it. We are referring to Adam’s house where Alice comes time and time again for their intense encounters.

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - FILM 01

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - FILM 02

We will probably never know if the interiors of Adam’s house were filmed on location or in a studio but the steps and front door of his house can be seen at the South end of …Highbury New Park!

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - MRX

In fact, this quiet and leafy Islington street looks beyond suspicion. Who could possibly imagine what Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham were up to behind closed doors (if you forget the  20+ crew around them that is!)

More interestingly maybe is the fact that Adam’s house is only yards from what was once the home of Highbury Studios.  Film and TV Studios since 1933, they were acquired by the Rank Organisation in 1945 but would eventually be demolished in 1960. Next to those, in a disused church hall, was a training school, The Company of Youth, also known as the Rank Charm School.

If the studios and school are no longer here, many of the young actors who trained at such school made a name for themselves…Christopher 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 school!

Fade Out

 

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury New Park N5 2ET

Canonbury Overground Station (Zone 2)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury New Park and Highbury Corner

 

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)gmail.com or via Twitter

The Estorick Collection brings La Dolce Vita to Islington

15 May

This week, let’s forget about Islington film locations for a moment. Worry not, we’ll still be talking film stars and Islington. Indeed, movie stars galore in this post, and of the highest calibre: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Joan Collins, Jack Lemmon, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Launren Bacall, John Wayne, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Wagner, not to forget Marcello Mastroianni  and Anita Ekberg. All of them, and many more, are waiting for you in the heart of Islington, at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art.

Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection

Located in Canonbury Square, the Estorick Collection’s latest exhibition, The Years of La Dolce Vita opened on 30th April. We are invited to travel back to 1950s and 60s Rome, where many Hollywood producers and filmakers went to, to shoot at its Cinecittà studios for a fraction of what it would have cost them in California. Those were Cinecittà’s golden years with epic films such as Ben-Hur (1959) and Cleopatra (1963) being made, and young Italian directors producing some of their finest movies.

At a time where the Internet and social media seemed light years from us, and where most people could not travel long distances, how did people know about what was going on in Rome? Thanks to gossip and people magazines, thanks to photographers, thanks to Paparazzi

In fact, the name Paparazzi comes from Fellini’s La Dolce Vita itself. In it, Mastroianni plays Marcello Rubbini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines who works with a photographer friend, whose name is… Paparazzo! Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) was one those photographers. It is mainly from his archive that the 80 pictures on display at the Estorick Collection are. Here are some of them to whet your appetite.

Audrey Hepburn who shot to fame and won her first Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953) was no stranger to Rome.

1. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Neither was Rock Hudson, seen here with Cary Grant, who filmed in Italy A Farewell to Arms (1957) and the romantic comedy Come September (1961), which is at the heart of our Hollywood on the Italian Riviera project.

4. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Hudson and Grant

Rock Hudson and Cary Grant at Cinecittà, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

British 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 Wagner.

9. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Lemmon, Collins and Wagner

Jack Lemmon, Joan Collins and Robert Wagner at “Caffè dell’Epoca”, Rome, October 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Mr Universe 1955 and actor Mickey Hargitay and his wife Jayne Mansfield were having the time of their life.

10. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Mansfield and Hargitay, Rome 1962

Jayne Mansfield and Mike Hargitay leaving “Piccola Budapest”, Rome, October 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

From one curvy blonde to another: Brigitte Bardot, Bardot…la la la la la lalaaaaa

2. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Bardot

Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

In the meantime in Ischia, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were enjoying a break from shooting Cleopatra.

5. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Burton and Taylor

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

We truly enjoyed discovering those Marcello Geppetti’s snapshots on display in The Years of La Dolce Vita. For an hour or so we were mingling with the stars in sunny (and warm) Rome, wondering along Trastevere, Via Veneto, la Fontana di Trevi… I guess the miserable weather made it all the better, not to mention the 3 D experience offered by the Estorick Collection.

The 3-D experience??? Yes, la ciliegina sulla torta (the cherry on the cake as the Italians say). While you go trough the rooms looking at the pictures of the stars having a coffee, enjoying a drink or a meal in a Trattoria, an incredible smell comes from the Estorick Caffè and tickles your nose. How clever! So clever that we ended up extending our stay in Rome for a Frittata of the day, some Gnocchi Sorrentina and 2 Espresso.

No pictures of Marcello? Anita Ekberg? John Wayne? Federico Fellini?

Oh yes. Plenty of those. At the Estorick Collection.

The Years of La Dolce Vita is on until the 29th June.

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.

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

39a Canonbury Square N1 2AN

Essex Road Train Station (Zone 1)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Canonbury Road, Essex Road, Upper Street or Highbury Corner

Stephen Fry Hides in Alwyne Road

6 Mar

When we last spoke of V for Vendetta (2005), we left Evey (Natalie Portman) recalling her childhood to V (Hugo Weaving), and how she used to hand out leaflets outside Farringdon Station.

Soon after, V tells Evey that, having brought her to his house, she must now remain there until the following 5th November, one year away. When she realises that V kills government officials, she escapes. Now a wanted woman, she cannot go back home and decides to take refuge at her boss’s, comedian and talk show host Gordon Deitrich (Stephen Fry).

In return for her trust, Gordon explains that he conceals his sexuality to protect his career, and shows her a collection of prohibited materials such as paintings, an antique Quran, and homoerotic photographs.

And where better to hide than…Alwyne Road. A quiet leafy street in Canonbury, by the new river footpath.

Unlike other Islington film locations, the house is not instantly recognisable. We only get to see it for a few seconds, at night and mainly from close-ups. First, when Evey rings the bell and Gordon opens the door.

 V for Vendetta - 6 Alwyne Road - FILM 01

Then, later that evening, before the police storms in, we get a quick glance at the whole house but again it is a night shot.

V for Vendetta - 6 Alwyne Road - FILM 02

V for Vendetta - 6 Alwyne Road - MRX 01

Stay on your toes, V for Vendetta will take us to other locations across Islington.

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)gmail.com or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Alwyne Road N1

Essex Road Train Station (Zone 1)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Canonbury Road, Essex Road, Upper Street or Highbury Corner

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