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This year, eyes and TV sets around the world will be focused on London, the capital of what is really a small island between the North Atlantic and the North Sea, also known as the United Kingdom.  London is in England, one of four countries that make up the UK…the others being Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.     What is it about London that makes it such a fascinating city?

Well, for one, unlike many European cities, London is seriously multicultural.  VERY multicultural.  And I’m not talking tourists.  I’m talking residents.  All races, religions, socioeconomic levels are on view throughout most parts of London.  Yes, in some of the swankier sections (Knightsbridge, Mayfair to name two), most of the people have more than their fair share of  Pound Sterling in their pockets.  But, London is a mammoth, vast city with section upon section of diverse areas.  Take Kensington…which borders ritzy area Knightsbridge and is not far from the also ritzy Chelsea.  Kensington has more Indian restaurants than British restaurants it seems.  The Indian dish Chicken tikka masala, not fish and chips, is even London’s honorary national meal. When we think British, we think Protestant and white.  In the countryside, maybe…but not in London.

Let’s move on to London’s fascinating history.  Unlike our cities in this country, London has recorded history dating back thousands of years.  Yes…thousands.  From the Romans who founded the city as Londinium to the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors, every corner of London bears some history worth repeating.  The formally-walled “City of London” is the present-day financial center of the capital and is one of the 32 boroughs of London.  There are still places within The City, or Square Mile, as it is sometimes called, where you can see some of the London Wall, first built around The City by the Romans.  Just to the east of The City lies Whitechapel, the former stomping grounds of that vicious deviant Jack the Ripper, who killed at least five prostitutes in the late 1880s.  And on the other side of the River Thames (which throughout much of history, was wider than the present-day river running through London today), there is the George Inn in Southwark…a pub that can date it’s history back to the 17th Century.  Yes, that’s right…the 1600s.  No, the George we see today is not the exact same one from the 1600s, but there has been a pub on that site for almost 400 years!  That’s a lot of pints!

Lastly, let’s look at London’s cultural side.  Most major cities can boast opera houses and a smattering of theaters and maybe one or two concert venues.  But, London is the HOME of the stage production…with its West End surpassing our Broadway in both longevity, history and profitability.  Many famed Broadway productions began as West End productions…and many acclaimed actors and actresses got their start on the London stage.

As the Summer Olympics approach (the opening ceremonies are on July 27), we thought everyone might want to get into a LONDON frame of mind to prepare.  Here are some movies that might fit the bill:

Feature Films
  • 28 Days Later
  • 84 Charing Cross Road
  • Alfie (1966)
  • The Bank Job
  • Being Julia (historical)
  • Blow-Up
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary**
  • Children of Men
  • Closer
  • Croupier
  • Dial M For Murder (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Dirty Pretty Things
  • An Education
  • Finding Neverland
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Frenzy**
  • From Hell (historical London)
  • Gaslight (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Happy Go Lucky
  • Hobson’s Choice (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Incendiary
  • Indiscreet
  • The King’s Speech (historical London)
  • The Ladykillers (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Last Chance Harvey**
  • Love Actually**
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) (not ENTIRELY set in London but features a climatic scene at the Royal Albert Hall in London)
  • Match Point**
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (historical London)
  • Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
  • My Fair Lady (historical London) (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Notting Hill**
  • Patriot Games
  • Possession
  • Pygmalion (set in London, shot on a set)
  • The Queen**
  • Scoop
  • Shakespeare in Love (historical London)
  • Sherlock Holmes (historical London)
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (historical London)
  • Sliding Doors
  • Stage Fright
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (historical London)
  • That Hamilton Woman (set in London, shot on a set)
  • Vera Drake
  • Waterloo Bridge (set in London, shot on a set) (historical London)
  • Wimbledon**
  • The Winslow Boy (historical London)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (set in London, shot on a set)
  • The World is Not Enough (not ENTIRELY set in London but features a fantastic boat chase on the River Thames)
  • You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
**MUST sees to get a good pre-Olympics feel of London

Television series

Above Suspicion
Absolutely Fabulous
Affairs of the Heart
As Time Goes By
Berkeley Square
Bleak House (2005)
Bless Me, Father
Bramwell
City of Vice
The Commander
The Complete Black Books
Coupling
The Duchess of Duke Street
Dutch Girls
A Fine Romance
Good Neighbors
The Hour
The House of Eliott
Hustle
Kavanagh Q. C.
The Last Detective
Law and Order UK
Manhunt
MI:5
Minder
Mr. Bean
Murder Investigation Team
Murphy’s Law
New Street Law
Prime Suspect
Poldark
The Prisoner
Rumpole of the Bailey
Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Sensitive Skin
Sherlock Holmes
State of Play (2003)
The Sweeney
Touching Evil
The Tudors
The Vice
Upstairs, Downstairs
Whitechapel
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About Cecilia C.

I order the DVDs, Blu-rays, and Audiobooks at the Niles Library. I love movies almost as much as I love being a librarian. Also, I am an Anglophile, Hitchcock-phile, destined to move to London/England one day, loves to travel (Europe), loves to read, wishes for some more time to write.

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