Behind the scenes

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The Independent Culture
You can probably recall the scene, against the atmospheric backdrop of a seething, darkly gothic cityscape a solitary tiny old lady (right) potters along a gloomy street to the door of her lace-curtained cottage. The Ladykillers is one of those classics of British cinema whose location perfectly conveys the black comedy's sense of impending - albeit unrealised - menace. But where was it filmed? A new exhibition at the Museum of London reveals all. "London on Film" examines the hundred years of film-making in the capital. While The Ladykillers was in fact set in a now demolished part of north London, other areas of the city have masqueraded as more exotic locations. Who would have guessed that the St Petersburg recently seen on screen in Goldeneye was in reality the classical frontage of Somerset House in the Strand or that the 1946 version of Great Expectations made inventive use of the ruins of the bomb-damaged City. Similarly, during the 1930s, motorists on London's new North Orbital ring road would have caught tantalising glimpses of the Indian Raj settings in North West Frontier and the space-age city of Things to Come at Denham Studios.

Through film clips and exhibits, the show charts a century of startling cinematic ingenuity and urban development. Taking as its starting point the public spectacles enjoyed by London audiences before the advent of the first "kinema" in 1894, and concluding with a selection of films not yet released, this exhibition is a fascinating, archaeological excursion into the secret life of our capital city.


Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2 (0171-600 3699) to 27 Oct