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Beer on DVD  no.57


This gruesome UK Hitchcock tale of the Necktie Murderer from 1972 is set in the seedier streets around Covent Garden in the days when the wholesale fruit veg and flower market was still located there, just behind The Strand rather than 5km South-West at Nine Elms. The London skyline doesn’t have a Gherkin or a Shard but it is filmed in colour. It’s an adaptation of Arthur La Bern’s novel “Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” scripted by Anthony Shaffer, the writer of the Wicker Man (reviewed in O-to-K Edition 69)

The two featured pubs from the 1970s do survive: Nell of Old Drury (in photo and named after Nell Gwynne) which had an interval bell and a tunnel so theatregoers could leave it until the last minute before resuming their seats in the theatre opposite; and the Globe, 39 Bow Street (site of the HQ of the Bow Street Runners for around 80 years) whose exterior is used for the pub from which “hero” Richard Blaney, played by Jon Finch, is sacked at the beginning of the film. Pub food back then saw shepherd’s pie top of a menu featuring sausage rolls, bags of crisps or pickled eggs – these days no central city pub would be complete without its resident chef. When I last checked the Globe was offering sausage and mash, but also pâté and toast, moules marinières and lasagne.

A perfidious Barry Foster isn’t Van Der Valk, Jean Marsh is upstairs not downstairs and you wouldn’t entrust your kids to nasty pub landlord Bernard Cribbins, who was Stationmaster Perks in the Railway Children. Clive Swift’s in it too, along with Anna Massey (of the cut glass voice) as a barmaid.   

In those days, areas around London’s wholesale markets were allowed earlier opening hours - I recall pubs at Billingsgate being open at 6 am, too. And yes Alfred Hitchcock himself, as usual, pops up in a couple of the crowd scenes.

It could cost you less than £7 new from Amazon and not much more for the Blu-Ray if you look around.


to be printed in O-to-K , 2017  main text ©RKW 2017