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Wednesday November 25th 2020

Judy | 2019

Judy film location: Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London WC2
Judy film location: the exterior of the Talk of the Town nightclub: the Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London WC2

The heartbreaking story of the 1968 visit to London of Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) to perform a series of sold-out concerts was made entirely in the UK.

The roots of the problems haunting the troubled star are hinted at in highly stylised flashbacks to her adolescence on the soundstages of MGM. The MGM studio was not actually in Hollywood at all but in Culver City, to the south of Los Angeles. The old lot is now part of Sony Pictures and you can, if you want to, take the Sony Pictures Studio Tour which includes very stages where The Wizard of Oz was filmed.

Of course, the film’s base at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire stands in for MGM, but most of the film’s locations are found in London.

Judy film location: Banking Hall, Cornhill, London EC3
Judy film location: the lobby of the 'Los Angeles' hotel from which Judy is turned away: Banking Hall, Cornhill, London EC3 | Photograph: The Banking Hall

The lobby of the ‘Park Seasons Hotel’ in ‘Los Angeles’, where Judy is humiliatingly informed that her suite has been ‘released’ as her funds run out, is the art deco Banking Hall, 14 Cornhill, London EC3, the city’s financial heart not far from the Bank of England itself.

The Grade II-listed building dates from the 1930s and was the HQ of Lloyd's Bank until 2002. Now an upscale events space, it was used as the interior of the ‘Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’ for Rob Marshall’s 2018 Mary Poppins Returns.

The pristine white deco house where Judy parties with daughter Liza Minnelli and first comes across ambitious Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) is pretty convincingly Californian, but is actually in Surrey.

Judy film location: St Ann's Court, St Ann's Hill, Surrey
Judy film location: Judy first meets Mickey Deans at the 'Hollywood' party: St Ann's Court, St Ann's Hill, Surrey | Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo / Arcaid Images

It’s the Round House St Ann's Court, St Ann's Hill. It’s another Grade II-listed building, built in 1936 and a private home ­– once owned by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, who turned its 19th century Coach House into a recording studio. The dashingly stylish Round House, which has naturally featured in photoshoots and TV ads, proved a perfect setting for several episodes of TV’s Poirot, with David Suchet.

With her personal finances exhausted by the end of 1968, Judy was obliged to leave her children in the States and commit to a series of concerts at London’s prestigious Talk of the Town nightclub, alongside Leicester Square tube station in the West End.

Designed by noted Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham, the venue opened in 1900 as the London Hippodrome, occupying a prime spot on Charing Cross Road, and intended to house variety, circus and even huge aquatic spectacles in a 100,00-gallon water tank.

It continued as a more conventional variety theatre until 1958, when it was gutted and turned into a glitzy nightclub.

Tastes change and, in 2012, it was reinvented once again, this time as the Hippodrome Casino, which meant it was no longer suitable for the film’s cabaret scenes.

The film uses another theatre designed by the same architect. A glossy black thrust stage was temporarily installed into the Hackney Empire, Mare Street, London E8, to replicate the famous nightclub as it was in the Sixties.

Judy film location: Hackney Empire, Mare Street, London E8
Judy film location: the interior of the Talk of the Town nightclub: Hackney Empire, Mare Street, London E8 | Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo / Grant Smith-VIEW

The Hackney Empire previously appeared in another Hollywood biopic, Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin, with Robert Downey Jr as the silent comic, and entered the Marvel Universe in Captain America: The First Avenger.

The busy corner of Tottenham Court Road and Cranbourn Street at the northeast corner of Leicester Square isn’t the most convenient place to close down for filming, even in the small hours, so yet another theatre is used for the exterior shots.

Judy film location: Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin's Court, London WC2
Judy film location: Judy arrives at the Talk of the Town: the Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin's Court, London WC2

This isn’t too far away. It’s the Noel Coward Theatre, a block to the south on St Martin’s Lane. The old Talk of The Town illuminated sign – and even a bit of the Hippodrome’s real frontage – were added digitally.

The stage door entrance where her two most loyal fans wait, is just off St Martin’s Court, facing the rear of Wyndham’s Theatre.

Judy film location: St Martin's Court, London WC2
Judy film location: Judy's fans wait at the stage door of the Talk of the Town nightclub: St Martin's Court, London WC2

The Noel Coward is also the theatre where Emilia Clarke arrives to audition in 2019 weepie Last Christmas (although, once again, another theatre provides the auditorium).

When Judy is taken to the rehearsal space, she makes it clear that the last thing she intends to do is rehearse. This ecclesiastical-looking building is St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road, London E5, a Grade II* listed church dating from 1792.

Judy film location: St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, London E5
Judy film location: Judy is taken to the London rehearsal space: St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, London E5

In the film it’s claimed to have excellent acoustics, which is just as well since it also functions as a music venue, having hosted performances by Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé and others. Since filming, it’s been given a major renovation.

Judy film location: Sandy's Row, Spitalfields, London E1
Judy film location: Judy and Mickey go shopping in 'Carnaby Street': Sandy's Row, Spitalfields, London E1

Unexpectedly, Mickey Deans turns up in London, and the two go shopping in the boutiques of 'Swinging London'. It’s not 'Carnaby Street', though. Under the swirls of psychedelic artwork is Sandy’s Row at Widegate Street, E1, one of the narrow little streets in the historic Spitalfields area, east of Bishopsgate.

Judy film location: Jerusalem Tavern, Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London E1
Judy film location: Judy and Mickey stop for a drink: Jerusalem Tavern, Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London E1

Seemingly nearby, the old, double-fronted pub in which they end up is about a mile west. It’s the Jerusalem Tavern, 55 Britton Street, in Clerkenwell, EC1. Later in the film, Judy endures a painful meeting with ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell) here. I’ve walked past this place dozens of times always wondering why I’ve not seen it in a film. Well, now I have.

Judy film location: St John's Path, Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London E1
Judy film location: Judy walks away after meeting Sid Luft: St John's Path, Britton Street, Clerkenwell, London E1

And that’s the real interior, too, with the old fireplace and tile decoration. There’s a little bit of a cheat. The frontage is dated 1720 and that is the age of the building, true, but it’s only been a bar since 1990. It was previously a watchmaker’s shop.

The narrow passage alongside down which she distractedly walks is St John's Path, which predates even the adjoining building.

There's a brief flicker of hope as the ambitious Dean pitches the idea of a chain of ‘Judy Garland Picture Houses’ to clear up Judy’s debts as they walk through the Hampstead Heath Pergola, just off North End Way Road, in front of Inverforth House, Hampstead, NW3.

Judy film location: Hampstead Heath Pergola, North End Way Road, Hampstead, NW3
Judy film location: Mickey pitches the idea of a chain of movie houses: Hampstead Heath Pergola, North End Way Road, Hampstead, NW3

The Georgian raised terrace and pillared walkway was once part of the gardens of Inverforth, originally owned by soap magnate Lord Leverhulme (owner of Lever Brothers, now Unilever).

The huge amount of material needed to raise the steep plot on which to build the Pergola came from the spoil of the newly-dug tunnels for the Hampstead extension to London Underground's Northern Line in 1905.

Judy film location: Hampstead Heath Pergola, North End Way Road, Hampstead, NW3
Judy film location: Judy proposes to Mickey: Hampstead Heath Pergola, North End Way Road, Hampstead, NW3

It’s alongside the estate’s rectangular pool that Judy recklessly proposes to Mickey.

You might have seen that Pergola, looking more green and perky and with added CGI countryside, as the garden of the clinic in which Lili (Eddie Redmayne) recuperates after her first operation in Tom Hooper's 2015 The Danish Girl.

Judy film location: Widegate Street and Sandy's Row, Spitalfields, London E1
Judy film location: Judy phones her daughter in the States: Widegate Street and Sandy's Row, Spitalfields, London E1

For the narrow backstreets of ‘Soho’, Judy walks at night along Artillery Passage, back near the ‘Carnaby Street’ location, and phones her daughter Lorna from an old red phone box which was temporarily installed on the northwest corner of Widegate Street and Sandy’s Row.