ELSTREE WORSHIP

Despite being in the clutches of a property developer over the last seven years, Elstree Studios have avoided being turned into a supermarket. In fact, they made a momentous comeback earlier this year in the shape of Watch That Man starring Bill Murray. The studio is now celebrating its 70th anniversary at the Barbican with Elstree Calling, a two-week season of film screenings and Elstree-related events.

Known as "Hollywood in Herts", Elstree was created in 1927 by British National Pictures, and was part of a grand plan to boost the British film industry. It became renowned for its thrillers, comedies and musicals in the early days, and later a string of Hollywood blockbusters including the Star Wars trilogy.

There is something for everyone on the programme. The rarely screened Hell Is A City, a stark crime thriller directed by Val Guest and based on Maurice Proctor's novel, opens the season (12 Sept 6.30pm). Shot in 1959, it is the story of a detective in pursuit of an escaped convict in the dingy backstreets of Manchester, with an all-star cast, including Donald Pleasance. Should you have missed the many showings of Murder On The Orient Express on TV there is a gala screening on Sun 14 Sept (7.30pm). Other films include Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, Hitchcock's 1929 thriller Blackmail (13 Sept, left) and the cult TV series The Avengers. A delectable line- up, and not a pre-millennial sci-fi schlock movie in sight.

Elstree Calling, Barbican Cinema, Silk St, London EC2 (0171-382 7000) 12-25 Sept

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