Monday July 22nd 2019

Were you fooled?

Six more locations that were really, really not supposed to be London...

7   |   The Acme Warehouse, Toontown, Hollywood – White City, W12

Dimco Building, Wood Lane, White City

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT: Until Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1987, few of us realised that Hollywood once had an all-singing, all-dancing, two-dimensional suburb called Toontown, which is where PI Bob Hoskins investigates a fiendish plan to destroy LA’s public transport system and render the city dependent on the motor car (as if!).

Neon signage and a couple of palm trees were added to the handsome red-brick Dimco Buildings on Wood Lane in White City, opposite what used to be the BBC Television Centre, to become Toontown’s ‘Acme Warehouse’, where sinister Judge Doom finally gets his just desserts.

Happily, the buildings are Grade-II listed which means they can’t be demolished, and the gigantic Westfield Mall had to be adapted to accommodate them. So many quintessentially ‘English’ films (My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins...) have been made in LA that it’s nice to return the compliment.

7/10 It suits the style of the film and it looks lovely, but art deco red brick is a little too picturesque for the functional concrete sheds of 30s Hollywood.

8   |   El Escorial Palace, Madrid – Victoria, SW1

Westminster Cathedral, Victoria

ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE: Shekhar Kapur’s brace of historical epics tracing the life of the first Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) use a vast array of period locations around the UK but Volume Two, The Golden Age, needs to incorporate Spain, too.

The darkly glittering interior of El Escorial, the palace outside Madrid where King Philip II of Spain plans his ill-fated naval assault on England – what we now remember as the Spanish Armada – is a mere stone’s throw from Victoria Station.

The Byzantine Westminster Cathedral (not to be confused with Westminster Abbey just down the road) is transformed into a royal court by carefully avoiding sculptor Eric Gill’s very Twentieth Century art deco-ish Stations of the Cross.

7/10 Imaginative but perhaps just a little too ecclesiastical.

9   |   Republican Palace, Baghdad – Covent Garden, WC2

Freemasons' Hall, Covent Garden

GREEN ZONE: The grand interiors of Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace, where Matt Damon finally confronts Pentagon official Greg Kinnear, is the Second Vestibule of the Freemasons’ Hall, the imposing landmark at 60 Great Queen Street in Covent Garden.

The headquarters of the once fiercely secretive Freemasons organisation is now an adaptable and frequently used location, seen in Bond film Spectre, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and in The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

There are now regular tours of the splendid building, when the Grand Temple is not in use.

8/10 Another clever choice but a wee bit too small and far too devoid of glittery bling.

10   |   Raoul’s Cigar Factory, Havana – Stoke Newington, N16

Simpson House, Dalston

DIE ANOTHER DAY: Lee Tamahori’s not too-successful entry into the Bond series saw 007 (Pierce Brosnan) haring off to Cuba – though the US blockade of the country ruled out location filming.

Cadiz, on the coast of Spain, provided a convincingly sun-drenched stand-in for Havana, but the interior of the cigar factory, where Bond drops the magic name 'Universal Exports' in his search for Zao, is Simpson House – now storage and retail space – on Stoke Newington Road in Dalston, north London.

10/10 Do you know what the interior of a Havana cigar factory looks like? Neither do I.

11   |   IOI HQ, Columbus, Ohio – Moorgate, EC2

CityPoint Building, City of London

READY PLAYER ONE: The huge ‘eyelid’ entrance to the CityPoint Building on Ropemaker Street in the financial heart of The City, becomes the entrance to the HQ of Innovative Online Industries from which Samantha/Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) makes a hasty exit after disabling the forcefield shield thingy in Steven Spielberg’s whizzbang sci-fi epic.

This is an increasingly popular area for movies, just around the corner is the ‘Manhattan’ sidewalk where (spoiler alert!) the Ancient One plummets to earth in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

6/10 Maybe too much of a landmark if you’re a Londoner.

12   |   Berlin Airport – Westminster, SW1

Lawrence Hall, Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE: It’s Thirties Berlin and Indy (Harrison Ford), along with his dad (Sean Connery), needing to take the first dirigible out of the city, naturally heads to the airport.

The sleek deco exterior is in San Francisco but the towering concrete arches of the Berlin airport lounge are those of the 1928 Lawrence Hall, one of the two Royal Horticultural Halls, in the heart of Westminster.

Lawrence Hall took to its role so well that, in 1997, it became Berlin Tempelhof airport for Philip Noyce’s film of The Saint, with Val Kilmer.

The Hall used to be open to the public for all kinds of events but, since being leased to Westminster School in 2011, the only way to see it for yourself is to attend one of the Horticultural Society’s four-times-a-year flower shows.

9/10 OK, historically inaccurate but pretty persuasive as Hitler’s vision of a comfy departure lounge.

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