The London Nobody Knows / Les Bicyclettes de Belsize DVD
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Produced in 1967, 1969
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
James Mason, Judy Huxtable, Anthony May
Here is a thoroughly enjoyable pairing of quirky, late 1960s London-set time capsules on celluloid. The London Nobody Knows, from 1967, written by the great celebrant of overlooked London Geoffrey Fletcher, and narrated by James Mason in a tone of compassionate, world-weary gentility so fitting to the needs of the film, is an elegy for the remnants of a bygone age before the capital's extensive redevelopment. Mason visits dray horse yards and Victorian public conveniences, pointing out sewer ventilating lamps and egg-breaking plants along the way. He walks the floor of the derelict Bedford Theatre in Camden High Street, tattered, blackened, broken and flaking, where Marie Lloyd sang and Walter Sickert sketched, and visits a Salvation Army hostel, and meets the down on their luck, the meths drinkers, the scarred, the scared and the oblivious – an unexpected sequence in a film that begins with scenes reminiscent of a ‘Sykes silent’ building skit. The accompanying soundtrack too is just as eclectic in approach, taking in music hall songs and unexpected analogue electronic experiments.
Les Bicyclettes de Belsize is a slight but utterly charming musical short, set in Hampstead village circa 1969. (It was, by the by, filmed by Wolfgang Suschitzky, whose son Peter has just presented a far darker picture of London as DoP on Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises). Anthony May plays the bicyclist who falls in love with poster girl Julie after crashing through a billboard with her giant face. In a delirious clash of colours reminiscent of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – he canary yellow trousers, matching silk scarf, orange socks, she (Miss Huxtable’s wardrobe supllied by Medusa, Chelsea’), magenta trouser suit and scarlet felt hat, they meet, fall in love, part, and lthen ong for each other in an alternative filmic world where Blow-Up has never happened and wistful romance defeats cynicism entirely. The title track was a hit for Engelbert Humperdinck.
Graeme Hobbs on 4th February 2008
Author of 277 reviews
A pairing of fascinating sixties London-based films.
The London Nobody Knows (Norman Cohen, 1967) is a tour of London, narrated by James Mason. Based on the book by Geoffrey Fletcher ('the great forgotten London writer'), it is a 45 minute snapshot of late 1960s London and is a fascinating time capsule of the remnants of a bygone age before the capital's extensive redevelopment in the late 1960s and 70s.
Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (Douglas Hickox, 1969) is a charmingly whimsical musical short filmed around Hampstead Village one summer, in which a man sees his ideal woman on a billboard poster and falls in love.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 73 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 3rd March 2008
Cat No: OPTD1142
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