Sid And Nancy | 1986
The film was shot largely in London, and New York, where the couple stay at, and Nancy dies in, the Hotel Chelsea, 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The landmark hotel, where you paid for the ambience more than for amenities, has been home to countless arty celebs over the years (as witnessed by the clutter of plaques around the entrance) including O Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Brendan Behan, Mary McCarthy, Vladimir Nabokov, Sarah Bernhardt and Dylan Thomas.
The lobby and stairwells are festooned with works of art, of varying quality, donated by past residents. You can see the hotel’s distinctive interior masquerading as other establishments in Luc Besson’s Leon – The Professional and Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. The hotel is currently closed for major renovation. Let’s hope it’s unique character doesn’t get destroyed in the process.
The legendary Q Club, a soul/reggae dive presided over by DJ Count Suckle since the Sixties, at 5 Praed Street near Harbet Road, was transformed into the club run by Malcolm Maclaren (David Hayman), where a strangely glamorous Poly Styrene performs with seminal punk band X-Ray Specs. The club closed later in the Eighties and Mimet House now stands on the site.
The London hotel of cleaned-up American rock star Rock Head (a character not a million miles from Iggy Pop, or perhaps Johnny Thunder of the New York Dolls), where he’s visited by the definitely not cleaned-up Sid and Johnny Rotten (Andrew Schofield), was the Inverness Court, now the Grand Royale Hotel, 1 Inverness Terrace at Fosbury Mews, Bayswater, London W2.
“This is a respectable hotel.” announces the pompous manager (Edward Tudor Pole), “Lillie Langtry stayed here.” And this is true. The hotel was built as a private home for the actress by Edward VII, during his affair with her. You can see it again in Ken Russell’s biopic of the silent star Valentino and, also in 1977, as ‘The Dunchester Club’, hangout of slippery PR man McQueen (Barry Foster), quizzed by disgraced cop Regan (John Thaw) in the cinema version of TV cop show Sweeney!.
The hotel’s rooftop, though, where Sid and Nancy enjoy a spot of gunplay, is that of the St Ermin’s Hotel, 2 Caxton Street in Victoria. A risky scene to shoot atop a building which overlooks – erm – New Scotland Yard, HQ of London’s Metropolitan Police. “All of a sudden, about twenty armed police appeared on the roof”, says the film’s location manager, Paul Raphael – the anti-terrorist squad taking a keen interest in weapons brandished on central London rooftops.
The Bramley Arms, Freston Road at the junction of Bramley Road, became not only boozer ‘The Old Mahon’, where Sid drinks, but the supplied office of Malcolm MacLaren, which was filmed in rooms above the bar.
Although closed, the pub has a long history as a film location, dating back to an appearance in Ealing Studios comedy The Lavender Hill Mob. Jeremy Irons drinks here in the film of Harold Pinter’s reverse-timescale drama Betrayal; the pub was seen in John Boorman’s offbeat drama of West London life Leo the Last; and is also featured in another great piece of cinematic pop culture, Quadrophenia.
Much of Quadrophenia was filmed around Shepherd’s Bush in West London, the old stamping ground of The Who. Just across the road from Cooke’s famous pie’n’mash shop on Goldhawk Road, where the Mods hang out in Franc Roddam’s 1979 film, is the tiny – but now closed – Metro Café, alongside Goldhawk Road tube station, where Nancy is told she’s not wanted on the tour by the rest of the shade-wearing entourage.
And just around the corner, 17 Pennard Road is the gaff of Wally, the crimson-haired punk, a character loosely based on Billy Idol.
Oakwood Court, Abbottsbury Road, in Holland Park, W14, is the luxury ‘Victoria’ pad of the hooker, where Sid and Johnny terrorise the poor doggy in the car and feast on baked beans and fag-ends.
Sid and Nancy live in less-than-perfect harmony in the jolly red-and-green pop-arty apartment block at 35 West Lane, Bermondsey SE16, south of the Thames. Now a smart office building and painted yukky pink, it used to be the Two Brewers pub. It’s on the pavement outside that the fun couple have a blazing row.
All the US concert scenes (including the performance at CBGBs in New York) were filmed in Los Angeles, in the Starwood, Hollywood. This legendary 70s club, which stood on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights, was one of the first clubs to book LA punk bands, but neighbourhood pressure eventually closed it down. The site is now a mall.