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Thursday July 18th 2024

Connecting Rooms | 1970

Connecting Rooms filming location: Craven Hill Gardens, Bayswater, London W2
Connecting Rooms location: the ‘rundown’ boarding house: Craven Hill Gardens, Bayswater, London W2

Connecting Rooms started out as Marion Hart’s downbeat and sentimental play The Cellist, which throws together middle-aged musician Wanda Fleming and retired schoolmaster James Wallraven in shabby lodgings in London’s Bayswater.

Franklin Gollings’ 1970 screen version (the only feature he directed) is notable mainly for the pairing of Hollywood legend Bette Davis as Fleming and theatrical knight Sir Michael Redgrave (father of Vanessa) as Wallraven.

The boarding house where the two protect their respective guilty secrets is 37 Craven Hill Gardens, W2. How times change – 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens was converted into favourite of the stars, the classy, minimalist Hempel boutique hotel (with a Zen garden opposite, which was featured toward the end of Notting Hill).

Connecting Rooms filming location: Whiteley's Department Store, Queensway, London W2
Connecting Rooms location: Wanda shops at the department store: Whiteley's Department Store, Queensway, London W2

Wanda shops locally at Whiteleys, Queensway, in Bayswater. London’s first department store, it’s now a huge complex housing an 8-screen multiplex, and is also seen in Ken Russell’s Billion Dollar Brain, Mike NicholsCloser and, briefly, in Love Actually.

‘Johnny’s Car Mart’, where smarmy con man Mickey (Alexis Kanner) hires flashy sports cars, stands in nearby Bathurst Mews, W2 (seen in the 60s set drama Scandal, about the Profumo-Keeler affair).

Connecting Rooms filming location: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London<
Connecting Rooms location: conman Mickey gets his comeuppance: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London

It’s at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, that Mickey eventually gets his comeuppance. The Hall, named in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, is used for the climax of both the 1934 and 1956 versions of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and is also the setting for the fantasy sequence from The Knack, Ann Todd's concert performance in the 1945 melodrama The Seventh Veil and the brass band competition finals in Brassed Off, with Ewan McGregor (though the interior of the hall was actually filmed in Birmingham Town Hall in the Midlands).

Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2, alongside Leicester Square tube station, was transformed into the ‘Windsor Theatre’ where Wallraven finally discovers that Fleming, rather than playing cello in concert, is busking for small change by the theatre’s stage door in St Martin’s Court.

Notice that at the ‘Windsor’, ‘Margo Channing’ – Bette Davis’s grande dame actress from All About Eve – is appearing in Remembrance. The joy of in-jokes.

The interior of Wyndham’s’s later became the ‘Royal Opera House’ in Murder By Decree, the 1979 Sherlock Holmes vs Jack The Ripper mystery, with Christopher Plummer as the great detective.