Good Venue Guide 10: National Film Theatre, SE1

Date of Birth: 1957.

Building: nestled under the asthma- inducing Waterloo Bridge, on the site of a former car park, the NFT isn't feted for its architecture: its press office couldn't name the original architect or the cost of the building, which was extended to two auditoriums in 1970. The more elegant Museum of the Moving Image, designed by Brian Avery and tacked onto the NFT in 1988 to provide an additional cinema, cost pounds 12m.

Brief history: originally an exhibit in the 1952 Festival of Britain, it was relocated to its current home in 1957. Despite its rather innocuous (some say drab) appearance, it has been party to some unseemly scenes: Jean-Luc Goddard in a fist fight, and Quentin Tarantino mobbed by crazed fans demonically incanting choice excerpts from Pulp Fiction and demanding autographs. Bette Davis did little to help its image problem, declaring "What a dump!" as she strode down an aisle. Street cred was, however, bolstered by Hugh Grant and his scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral - even though he was distracted by Andie MacDowell and missed the film in question. Fans were delighted by the unscheduled appearance of Judy Garland when A Star is Born was screened shortly before her death.

Currently starring: Magnificent Obsessions, a retrospective of the films of Douglas Sirk, including Written on the Wind, starring Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall. Mon to 30 Jan. Bookings on 0171 928 3232.

Where to meet: the newly-opened cafe (above), refurbished by Peter Leonard, may be done out in a dubious, sub-Eighties chic, but it's a definite improvement on the old one, which resembled a rather nasty garden centre.

Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 2.20.

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