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London Calling

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Mark Kermode | 10:31 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012

In a few days I'm presenting a concert of music taken from films set in London. I've got my favourite scores for the capital, what are yours?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Andrew Dickson's terrific score for Mike Leigh's 'Naked'.

  • Comment number 2.

    Francis Monkman's theme to The Long Good Friday has to be one of the most memorable pieces of music to have ever been featured in a film based in England, it also makes for a damn good morning alarm.

  • Comment number 3.

    For some reason, the first to pop in my head was Hitchcock's underrated Frenzy.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think An American Werewolf in London has some very good music by Ermer Bernstein that begins with a moody piece of music to illustrate the creepy atmosphere of the English countryside with its great forests and dark moors and it ends with the classic song Blue Moon as sung by a rock band, which nicely demonstrates the contrast between the Anglo-Saxon wilderness and the English urban jungle in which Americans, frankly, feel, much like the mythological werewolf figure, like social and cultural outcasts.

  • Comment number 5.

    If I was you, I'd have a word with Ben 'Plan B' Drew about London, films & music. He seems to be a man in the know.

  • Comment number 6.

    My vote would have to go for Trainspotting. The montage when Mark Renton (Ewan Mcgregor) first goes to London with ironic tourist board images and upbeat dance music perfectly captures the utopian view outsiders wanting to live in London have of it. Boyle manages to undermine that, giving us the depth under the postcard picture surface.

  • Comment number 7.

    I know that this is going to be controversial choice, but my quintinessential film about London is Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. I know that the myth of the existence of Todd is at best dubious, but I think that the fantastic score and songs by Stephen Sondheim really elevated the film and also the stage play to more than just a musical. Some of the songs really reflect the poverty and disease that would have been prevelant around this time and along with the fantastic cinematography by Dariusz Wolski, a world is created which is filled with anguish, death, horror and empathy. The film also features arguably one of Johnny Depp's best performances to date.

  • Comment number 8.

    Mona Lisa has a moody score by Michael Kamen and even In Too Deep by Genesis works well.

    By the way, how many Michael Caine films have been set in London?

  • Comment number 9.

    My favourrite London film is Jack Rosenthal's "The Chain" from 1984. I haven't seen it for years and it is rather under-rated and mostly forgotten, sadly.

    A film about the 7 deadly sins as shown by 7 people all moving house at the same time, it features some great performances from the likes of Denis Lawson, Maurice Denham, Nigel Hawthorne, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Leo McKern, Bernard Hill and Warren Mitchell.

    However it makes wonderful use of Pachelbel's Canon throughout, a lovely piece of music you'll recognise even if you don't know the name - and is great mood music to a grimy city that was unknowingly being transformed into the global megalopolis it is today.

  • Comment number 10.

    You've got films that show cherry-pickings of London such as Richard Curtis' romantic comedies (Love Actually, Notting Hill) or Woody Allen's ones (Match Point).

    I like Withnail & I & A Fish Called Wanda's depiction of London.

    Recently, I was impressed with Kidulthood (and Fish Tank (set in the Croydon outskirts?)) and also Dirty, Pretty Things as a much, much muddier look at living in London which is more balanced account and worlds apart.

    Someone mentioned an old black & white movie of a movie-maker who was excellent at capturing London (reason to see his films) eg Soho, in a previous blog... *Yeah, I know, walk into a bookshop and ask: "I'm looking for a book plz, it's about this size & red... I think." :p Any of the Ealing Comedies perhaps also eg Passport To Pimlico?

  • Comment number 11.

    'feed the birds' from mary poppins!

    followed by an ealing comedy suite with selections from the ladykillers, passport to pimlico and the lavender hill mob. nothing says london to me like ealing.

  • Comment number 12.

    Night and the City. The 1950s film noir set in London is brilliant with a film score that creates an unsettling atmosphere in the criminal underworld of the city. When released in America however, a completely different score was written and set to the film. When you watch both versions, the mood of the film changes completely. I guess this shows the power of music in film.

  • Comment number 13.

    Shame on you Kermode. Failing to mention the cockney splendour of Mary Poppins? For shame.

  • Comment number 14.

    I might get a bit of stick for this, but Harry Brown.

    Firstly, the plot of the movie seems to be one of those universal 'let's be badass and kill everyone' morality stories transplanted onto a modern setting for relevance. Mark therefore criticised it in its review for equating the baddies with the hoodies. However, I did get a political message from the film stemming from its bleak and corroded way of presenting that bit of the city, which is an abandoned tower block in Elephant & Castle. The atmosphere of the film is the closest I've seen on film to the dark and divided underside of London which does permeate the lives of anyone who lives there. (Another Barnet resident here, Mark)

    Secondly, one is very specific to me and people of my generation. (With apologies,) I saw the film aged considerably too young for the certification, but was struck by how poignant and powerful the final scene was in portraying the pointlessness of these peoples' lifestyles and existence. A lot of this was down to the music, Chase & Status's End Credits featuring Plan B, one of the film's hoodies, as vocalist. As one of the people who listens to dance music detached from the image of 'play it in clubs and dance around like a loonie', seeing drum & bass which is undoubtedly one of the defining sounds of this city being used to such strong effect in an artistic way was stunning to me at the time, but quite specifically to me as I am both a London resident and part of the regular DnB following. However, this sort of impact is not lost on the British public with Chase & Status, Plan B and similar crossover grime and dance music acts now ruling the charts.

    The film for me defined the true dark heart of London being shown and exposed in its reality, and with genuine reference to the culture that has come out of it organically from the people living there, not superimposed on it by a record company executive, and for that I think it was far more effective that the plot and guns betrayed.

  • Comment number 15.

    Performance will always remain the quintessential London film for me. The Jack Nietzsche score is quite good, plus it has the Mick Jagger song "Memo from Turner".

    It's hard to think of London films and not automatically be drawn to the swinging sixties period, for instance Stanley Dolen's Bedazzled, Peter Watkins' Privilege etc..

    Jules Dassin's Night and the City is a great noir set in London. It was released in an American version with a score by Franz Waxman and in a British version with a score by Benjamin Frankel. Both score's are good, though Frankel's more subtly so.

    The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a very much London film with an uncredited score by Stanley Black.

    Basil Dearden's All Night Long has an excellent jazz soundtrack (Mingus, Brubeck and Dankworth play themselves) and is set in the East End, but if I recall correctly is all indoors so you don't see much of London.

    If Quadrophenia can count as a London film then so can O Lucky Man!, with music by Alan Price.

    Derek Jarman's Jubilee, with music by Adam & The Ants before they were teeny-boppingly famous.

  • Comment number 16.

    What about Twisted Nerve? Bernard Herrmann's wonderful and chilling score is still fantastic and the whistle scene stands out as a great moment in the history of British cinema.

  • Comment number 17.

    I loved the scores for The Untouchables by Brian de Palma and The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola.

  • Comment number 18.

    #8 rivendellelrand

    I make it 25 Michael Caine films set in London

  • Comment number 19.

    agree with the post about The Long Good Friday. A classic theme tune if ever there was one. Also love John Barry's The Ipcress File

  • Comment number 20.

    Mike Vickers (ex manfred mann) opening theme to ‘Dracula AD.1972’, accompanying those gorgeous shots of 1970's London is a fave and also Alan Prices soundtrack to ‘Oh Lucky Man’. Although the film is set up and down the country, the London scenes, especially in the old East End, are particularly evocative and Alan’s score is fantastic.

  • Comment number 21.

    Could I put a shout in for Oliver Twist - the David Lean version of 1948 that is. Of course there is Lionel Bart musical Oliver! which has a whole score to itself.

  • Comment number 22.

    ..and Tony Hatch's cracking score for 'Sweeney 2' and the theme to the hugely underrated 'The Squeeze', the mostly forgotten brit crime masterpiece from 1976 directed by Michael Apted

  • Comment number 23.

    @ Information1st: I agree with Dirty Pretty Things, it was the first film that popped into my mind.
    Also how about Children of Men? The 2027 setting showed no flying cars, no futuristic tech. Just a battered but very believable London. Don't think that film gets enough credit for Cuaron's vision..

  • Comment number 24.

    The score from Ronald Neame's 'The Horse's Mouth,' which is Kenneth Jones adapting 'Lieutenant Kijé,' is always stuck in my head. It's theme certainly brings to mind painter Gulley Jimson, but it trails him from the low, rainy boat-house on the Thames where he lives to the Breeders' high society residence where he plays destructor-in-residence and everything in between.

  • Comment number 25.

    John Murphy In the House- in a heartbeat from 28 Days Later

  • Comment number 26.

    -Performance (Donald Cammell, Nicholas Roegg, 1970)
    -the arrival-in-London scene in Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)
    -the classical music used by Patrick Keiller for his film London (1994)
    and (the Good Doctor may disagree)
    -the recycling of classical pop and rock music in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

  • Comment number 27.

    #3, Hitchcock's Frenzy sprang to my mind as well, although I can't recall the score right now. It was really Hitch's return to and final hurrah in London. A really solid movie with sick humour, and that dread filled tracking shot away from the murder in progress to the street market outside.
    #7, Sweeney Todd would be a better choice if Burton hadn't gutted the score, and chopped out half the lyrics (odd and unnecessary, as the Original Broadway Cast album is shorter than the movie). The song There's No Place Like London suffers this fate particularly badly.
    Performance is an obvious choice as the soundtrack is so integral.
    Bedazzled has the best line in a mock pop song ever sung, "You fill me with inertia!" (Top that Spinal Tap!)
    Cronenberg's other London film, Spider, has a good Howard Shore score, although I find the film itself less involving than all the good component parts would suggest. Eastern Promises, was undercut for me the moment I decided that Viggo's accent sounded like Bela Lugosi.
    Joseph Losey's The Servant has an interesting John Dankworth soundtrack.
    Also, if memory serves Mike Hodges Croupier had a pretty good soundtrack.

  • Comment number 28.

    For me it's got to be Michael Nyman's music to Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland.

    It's the film that most closely resonates to my feelings and view of London, the sense of isolation even in one of the World's busiest city's, and largely filmed away from the tourists and the landmark buildings. Nyman's music doesn't just seem like an accompaniment to the images, but a perfect marriage. I know that Winterbottom and Nyman have worked closely together many times, but it's here that I think his music is most successful and really strikes a chord with me.

  • Comment number 29.

    If you're counting Quadrophenia then I would also include Shopping - the 1994 film that introduced us to Jude Law. Barrington Pheloung wrote some music specifically for the film but, more to the point, the vast array of music that blared out from every corner depicted the melting pot of cultures that London has become.

    Interestingly enough, Jason Isaacs had a bit-part in Shopping.

  • Comment number 30.

    If we're talking soundtracks the one for Andrea Arnold's Fish tank is pretty cool (and a great film too)

  • Comment number 31.

    I'd add "Italian Job" as it has a hint of Swinging Sixties London in it as well as Italy along with the song "This is the self preservation society" with Michael Caine's rhyming cockney slang in the lyrics.
    As a homage to Swinging Sixties London I'd have "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and the dance routine through London's streets.

    Hubby asked for "Mary Poppins" but I think he should be ashamed of himself!

  • Comment number 32.

    28 days Later by Danny Boyle.

    A brilliant modern horror film which captures the vastness of the city and the isolation and loneless that can be experienced by it's citizens. It taps into the fact that i and my fellow londerners are constantly surrounded by complete strangers, with a small minority of friends. Just in stead, of these strangers being politely indifferent to us they are zombies and want to eat our faces.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Muppets Christmas Carol.

  • Comment number 34.

    Aaah, you can't beat a bit of Creedence as someone painfully morphs into a Werewolf. Or some Van Morrison whilst getting fresh with Jenny Agutter in the shower. "Bom, ba-ba-bom, ba, dang-a-dang, dang..."

  • Comment number 35.

    For me the best film depicting London would have to be Repulsion. Roman Polanski's sensational and stark psychological thriller was made in the midst of Swinging Sixties London, and instead it shows the opposite of it all. The film depicts London as a metropolis of urban paranoia and isolation. With its black and white cinematography, South Kensington looks dark and terrifying. The mansion flat occupied by the protagonist, a young, beautiful and schizophrenic Belgium manicurist named Carol who loses her grasp on reality, is filled with cracks in walls and ceilings and the flat itself has an atmosphere of decay When she finally does lose her grasp on reality due to the unwanted attention she receives from a would be suitor and a leacherous landlord, the flat becomes a sprawling and unending space and London becomes hell, in one scene she is walking down Albert Bridge where in the background a car crash has taken place. To Carol, London is a sprawling cruicible of anonymity and isolation, that pushes her towards insanity and murder.

    The Long Good Friday is another brilliant film of London. Despite the fact that its, in my humble opinion, the best gangster film Britain has ever produced, the film itself is a satire on capitalism. The entrepeneur is an East End gangster and London itself is on the brink of change, the then decaying Docklands being rejuvinated to what it is now. Like Repulsion, the film shows a cold sardonic view of London, only in this case London is a commodity and the brilliant score by Francis Monkman further establishes the point on how the London of old is dying to be taken over by faceless, and heartless, corporations.

  • Comment number 36.

    Perhaps not so timely any more but how about this Boney M-esque take on Rule Britannia from Derek Jarman's Jubilee, as mimed by Punk muse Jordan (no, not that one, the other one).

    p.s. Ridley Scott is a spent force; he should retire forthwith.

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps not an original score, but how about the soundtrack to Layer Cake? Some brilliant use of music in the film to evoke the grit, the buzz and the shine of London, most notably Duran Duran's Ordinary World She Sells Santuary by The Cult and FC Kahuna Hayling.

  • Comment number 38.

    Russel Garcia's sumptuous and moving but never sentimental score for George Pal's The Time Machine. It does something that most great scores do - it elevates and enhances the film. Every time I hear the main theme I get goosebumps.

  • Comment number 39.

    Shaun of the Dead: a bunch of geeky thirty-somethings beating up a zombie in a North London pub to the strains of Queen's Don't Stop Me Now. It's the only time I've seen a London on the big screen I'm actually familiar with.

  • Comment number 40.

    Andrew Dickson has been mentioned already for Mike Leigh's "Naked", personally I love his quirky High Hopes score, plucky and jovial, melancholy and wistful. The music has always stayed with me, I'd buy it if I could.

  • Comment number 41.

    for me it would have to be The Young Americans starring Harvey Keitel, the music by David Arnold. The scene where Harvey is being taken to his hotel at the very beginning of the film has some amazing shots of London at Night.

  • Comment number 42.

    Monty Norman's James Bond theme. Although the films are set all over the world, London is usually the starting point for the Bond adventures, and it is first played during Bond's introduction in a London club in Dr. No.

  • Comment number 43.

    A film better than Quadro to define London and Brighton?
    A film with a soundtrack better than the mighty Who?
    Can only be one choice...

    Larry Adler's soundtrack to Genevieve!

    (you won't mention it Mark because soundtracks with a Waltz as a main theme rarely get mentioned).

  • Comment number 44.

    Although not set in a particularly familiar London the music in 'Children of Men' has such a haunting string section that seems to refer to London's position in history. The way John Tavener presents the score as a Baroque/Classical work whilst constantly pushing towards 21st century modernity through subtle and irregular electronic idiosyncrasies is truly compelling. For me, this reflects the architecture of London as it has been ever present throughout changes in ownership, occupation, death and rebirth.

  • Comment number 45.

    As someone from Belfast who has never been to London (or England at all for that matter), I can't help but be sucked into the completely artificial, yet iconic depiction of 19th century London from 'Mary Poppins'. I know it'll probably annoy some genuine Londoners, but with it being a childhood favourite of mine, I can't help but think that if I was to ever visit London I'd have 'Step In Time' playing in the back of my head.

  • Comment number 46.

    Though it's a destitute and empty London that doesn't depict the day to day hubbub I think that 28 Days Later has a soundtrack that completely understands that feeling of frightened isolation that you only experience when arriving in a big city, and what city is better than London to prove that.

  • Comment number 47.

    The Ipcress File -John Barry.

    No need for long rambling reasons, it's just the best.

  • Comment number 48.

    Also, by no means a perfect film. But the soundtrack from About A Boy paints an idyllic image of London that always reminds me of how I used to see it, and not as the grey Dickensian mess view of it I have now.

    Whilst the singles 'Silent Sigh' and 'Something to Talk About' work better with issuing feeling towards Hugh Grant and Nicolas Hoult's characters' growing relationship, the light instrumentals are what give the surroundings warmth and respectability.

  • Comment number 49.

    Not subject related but may i just be the first to say Happy Birthday to Jason Isaacs. His name is top of the list of people born today in IMDB.

  • Comment number 50.

    Quadrophenia has a soundtrack that contributes just as much as the film itself (if not more so) to the feeling of growing up in 1960's London.

    James Brown's inclusion on Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' soundtrack took a rough, gritty film and made it cool. It's probably responsible for most of London's crime ever since.

    The message here is in order to have a good soundtrack cast Sting as an actor not a musician.

  • Comment number 51.

    For me, the quintessential London film is Withnail & I. I know only a small portion of the film is set in London, but this is the key to the film. It is about the characters' attempts to escape London and the inevitable demise of the swinging 60s (an era so closely tied to the city), and so put off their own particular, inevitable demise, that is, the demise of their youthful selves. A pervading sense of decay and decline is imbued in the film, with images of buildings being torn down, and London shot so as to look sickly, pallid and grey; and the images are wonderfully wedded to contemporary music from the era, particularly Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All Along The Watchtower', which almost sounds like a funeral dirge. And this, in a sense, encapsulates the story of London throughout the centuries; a city constantly being torn down and reborn, generation after generation, often painfully, but always, in the end, the city survives and endures.

  • Comment number 52.

    Being Scottish, I guess I'm not really qualified to respond to this question, author aside, but my first thought was Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. The music hall scenes are precisely how I imagine London during that period. That and the fact that it's just simply a wonderful film

  • Comment number 53.

    I like Ron Goodwin's theme to Hitchcock's Frenzy (1972), from a sweeping opening shot in the sky and then down over the Thames to Tower Bridge. It's a majestic, triumphant piece that sums up a Great City and also heralded the Master Of Suspense coming home. If only they'd played this the other day at the River Pageant...

  • Comment number 54.

    Georgy Girl - the not so swinging sixties. Still heartbreaking.

  • Comment number 55.

    The Ipcress file score is amazing. The main theme in the opening scene where Palmer wakes up to his daily routine sets the tone instantly, perfectly in sync with the way Caine plays him.
    But, as it goes on the same motif mutates from the familiar melancholy of cold mornings and dull civil service building corridors into ominous notes of intrigue and peril as the story unravels.
    Look at the differences between "main title" "Meeting with Grantby" and "Jazz along alone" all built around the same tune but each imbued with subtle mood that matches each of the scenes. Its masterful stuff, in fact, im gonna watch it right now.

  • Comment number 56.

    Got to be the boat chase from the opening to The World is Not Enough, London the Thames and that famious James Bond sorce whats not to like.

    On a side note, is it just me or does Prometheus have a very strong echo of Star Trek V about it

  • Comment number 57.

    For me NIL BY MOUTH is the essential London film. The score is by a geezer name of Eric Clapton. By the way, the guy who said Nyman's Wonderland - spot on. And Long Good Friday, for sure. If only Michael Caine was in it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Deep End (1970) with a stunning Jane Asher is one of my favourite London films with a fantastic soundtrack by Can. Supercool.

  • Comment number 59.

    A Hard Day's Night, Quadrophenia and The Ipcress File all come to the very top of my list.

  • Comment number 60.

    Two films spring to mind:

    Firstly, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The house where they live sums up London; Tight and twisty roads, with a taxi firm on every street. Then there are scenes from a boxing club, pub and warehouses that further epitomise one side of the city. Then there's the scene on the bridge. Additionally, the street and indie soundtrack is very suitable for the side of London that the movie portrayed.

    Secondly, Sliding Doors. Two locations spring to mind here; the tube and more importantly, the diner. The scene where John Hannah searches for Gweneth Paltrow throughout London in the locations established earlier in the film, culminating in (again) their meeting on the Bridge is brilliant. I will always be reminded of that film every time I hear both Aqua and Dido's 'Sliding Doors'.

  • Comment number 61.

    Mark, did you not listen to the magnificent score of Danny Dyer's "Pimp" shame on you! ;)

  • Comment number 62.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to walk from one end of Waterloo Station while listening to "Waterloo" off the Bourne Ultimatum soundtrack on headphones without becoming utterly paranoid that random strangers are actually following you or that you're about to be shot in the head. It's not possible.

  • Comment number 63.

    Of films from recent years I'd go for Anthony Mingella's "Breaking and Entering". The sparse score by Underworld (Karl Hyde and Rick Smith) and Gabriel Yared perfectly evokes the isolation and alienation engendered by the faceless North London estates and middle class ghettos in which it is set. And the grinding loneliness from which the characters' chance encounters may perhaps save them.

  • Comment number 64.

    I will always have a soft spot for Procol Harum "A Whiter Shade of Pale".

    It is the introduction to Withnail and I, and it sets up the drab, mundane existence they are both living beautifully.

    It also highlights the misery and gradual breakdown Marwood is facing as he contemplates life in that hideous London greasy cafe.

    The film is set in a London I never knew before

  • Comment number 65.

    Love how numerous Michael Caine films and soundtracks are creeping in to this topic! I agree with some correspondents that Children Of Men is hugely underrated and avoids all the futuristic cliches - not a retina scan in sight!

    Have to agree with the mention of Duran Duran's Ordinary World in Layer Cake - what a superb piece of film making having that song in there - it's just perfect.

    And #35 spaceodds - understand what you are saying but I've never had The Long Good Friday down as a satirical take on capitalism under any circumstances! It's a bone hard gangster film with no designs on any subliminal undercurrent

  • Comment number 66.

    Beat Girl, joyful and sleazy music from John Barry. Crazy, baby.

    "Cool, like the lager beer"

  • Comment number 67.

    John Schlesinger's Darling (1965), with a soundtrack by the inimitable Johnny Dankworth. Dankworth's soundtrack evokes a London of postwar austerity and greyness, a world that was fast disappearing. Released in the same year as Richard Lester's Help - a full colour, modernist movie, Darling straddles the world of debutantesque privilege and modern swinging London.

    It is interesting how Schlesinger attempts to shoe-horn many of the taboos of early sixties England into two hours – adultary, divorce, homosexuality, promiscuity, lascivious Europeans, all topped with a good dose of greed. All happening against a backdrop of solidly upper middle class characters, as opposed to the then emerging pop culture that was being driven by the talents of working class and lower middle class artists.

    Maybe Schlesinger was making the point that upper middle classes had been cocking a snook at the establishment for years whilst expecting the majority of people to toe the moral line, and now the chickens had come home to roost?

    All the main characters are shallow and conceited, apart from Bogarde’s Robert Gold, and Julie Christie’s Diana is really the worst kind of middle class brat using her contacts to crawl her way further up the social ladder.

    Darling was probably Schlesinger’s sideswipe at the movers and shakers of the fading London establishment – I mean, the title says it all really.

  • Comment number 68.

    There’s been quite a few memorable films set in London, but memorable scores are another matter.

    You just have to include John Barry’s Ipcress File theme – and I’d also include his themes from The Knack & Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

    I’d include:
    Arnold Bax’s music from David Lean’s Oliver Twist.
    Keith Mansfield & Steve Ellis music from Joe Orton’s Loot.
    The theme from Kidulthood by The Angel

    I guess music from Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady & Olivier have to be considered.

    If you want left-field then Basil Kirchin’s organ music from cult classic The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

    And I can’t listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ without thinking of American Werewolf in London.

    Looks like you’ve included Bacharach’s Alfie in your concert’s line-up Dr K, even though it wasn’t actually used in the movie – just as a way of promoting it.

    And Quadrophenia? That movie says Brighton – not London - to me.

  • Comment number 69.

    What you consider "quintessential" London depends on many factors - but personally, along with "Lock, Stock...", KiDUTLHOOD and AdULTHOOD, I'D add "Attack The Block" by Steven Price. All of them perfect evocations of a modern urban London away from the "posh" stereotype.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think this is a debate entirely hinged on genre. If you asked the average person nowadays to sum up the marriage of image and music in London, you would probably receive an answer based upon an urban feature (Notably iLL Manors is out now and it's pretty impressive stuff).

    Films like A Hard Day's Night and Quadrophenia are as much about the music as they are about narrative storytelling. I agree entirely with Blow-Up but for me, Woody Allen's Match Point gets in bang-on.

    The score is silky and seductive, just like the upper-class lifestyles of our capital city plus it really seals the tone and atmosphere Allen wants to create.
    Another good shout is any major Rom-Com - Love Actually, Notting Hill...

  • Comment number 71.

    I agree with others and think that Performance is still the ultimate London film. It's depiction of the merging of identities in the late 1960s addresses so many issues: a criminal under class, the aristocracy, the city's changing multi-cultural face, rock and roll rebellion and institutional conservatism. The film's eclectic soundtrack reflects all these diverse elements brilliantly and is a classic.

    I also love Wil Malone's and Jeremy Rose's soundtrack to 70s horror classic Death Line. The gloriously sleazy music to the opening sequence, where a toff slithers around the seedy West End before meeting his demise at the hands of a cannibal, effortlessly conveys the class divisions that still pervade London to this day.

    A final mention also to Alberto Iglesias's music for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. White Hall has never sounded so powerful, drab, malicious, boring and menacing all at the same time.

  • Comment number 72.

    The final scenes of Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond featuring John Newton-Howard's tear-jerking track London are a epic cameraderie of emotions that show London in all it's glory from the eyes of an outsider.

  • Comment number 73.

    If Quadrophenia is in , then my vote goes to the wonderful haunting score for Get Carter. What do you mean it doesn`t count , I hear you say. It starts in London,with one of toughest London based gangster ever put on film. Michael Caines best ever part.That score is up there with Midnights Cowboy and The Godfather Theme as one of the best ever.I love IT!!
    As for atmosphere ,I would say the brilliant and profoundly brutal `London to Brighton. A film that simply blew me away. Much as I love The ROYALs (and I do) I would love to strap them into chairs and force them to watch one of the most brutal depictions of extreme poverty and the terrible choices it can force on those who have nothing to sell , but the body they live in.

  • Comment number 74.

    Bunny Lake is Missing features a sound track by the rock band The Zombies who are seen playing in one scene and give the film suitably off kilter feel.

    A slightly left field suggestion Listen to Britain features some classical music but mostly the everyday sounds of London create a unique and evocative score to the film.

  • Comment number 75.

    Why, Oliver of course, admittedly it's a Victorian London, but London all the same.

    Ooh and 28 Days Later for that fantastic shot of Cillian Murphy on a deserted Westminster Bridge. Danny Boyle is always very careful when selecting music for his films and uses it to great effect. 28 Days Later is no exception.

    Last but by no means least A Hard Days Night. You can't get more British than the Beatles running around the streets of London to sound of their own tunes. Lovely jubbly!

  • Comment number 76.

    my fair lady!

  • Comment number 77.

    The Long Good Friday is probably my favourite London film. The locations, the music and one of the themes that run through it is the ever changing city. 'All that is sold, melts into air'. Topical too, with its 'Olympic stadium in the East End' built by gangsters plot line. The music too, is faultless.

    And, of course, Whithnail and I. Although everyone remembers the Penrith bits, the London bits are superb. London is, indeed, a country coming down from its trip.

  • Comment number 78.

    Absolute Beginners anyone?

  • Comment number 79.

    Atonement has some iconic depictions of London - complete with routemaster - and the sense of industry, stoic carrying on with life, grime, glamour, history and hope (for atonement) and tragedy that those scenes carry do capture the city nostalgically well, I feel.

  • Comment number 80.

    Possibly the two most quintessential London sounds of recent years: London Calling by The Clash (bizarrely only used in one movie to my knowledge, Aardman’s The Pirates) and Ghost Town by The Specials used in Shaun of the Dead amongst others.

    I can’t think of any track of the past decade that quite caught the mood of it’s time in the same way those two songs did.

    The theme from Steptoe and Son; for most people it’s probably the most recognisable music for any movie set entirely in London. (I know they’re TV spinoffs, but there were two movies made.)

    If ‘London Movie’ is to mean ‘it has a scene set in London’ then the James Bond theme - from chase scene on the Thames from The World Is Not Enough.

  • Comment number 81.

    Deep End (1970) has fantastic music from Can, and also from Cat Stevens. A really atmospheric soundtrack that adds to the wonderful visuals of Jane Asher (looking incredibly beautiful) and London at the very end of the 60's, just as the 70's dawns.
    A real time capsule of London at its 60's psychedelic peak is Wonderwall (1968). Not a great film perhaps, but very evocative of that time and one of my favourite soundtracks. Written by George Harrison and featuring some truly beautiful music. (Plus it gave a certain Mr Gallagher the title of his most popular song!)

  • Comment number 82.

    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus showed a decaying and vibrant London all at once through a Gilliam skewed lens, iconic locations varying from Blackfriers Bridge to Battersea Powerstation. I do not think London ever looked so grimy and glorious at the same time. The soundtrack is a sweeping and wonderful affair.

    Harry Brown is definitely up there for showing a true version of London through visuals and the Chase and Status soundtrack. Really looking forward to Plan Bs Ill Manors. Ben Drew is so talented, blew my socks off in Harry Brown, utterly repulsive character who you could not help but look at.

    I showed Eastern Promises to my boyfriend last year which completely freaked him out at he was working in a studio on St John Street next to where they filmed the street scenes. That space was used for filming scenes for the Dark Knight Rises last year, so it will be interesting to see this also in the upcoming film.

    Are there no moder

  • Comment number 83.

    As a film fan from the Czech Republic I love the depiction of the swinging 60's London in "Joanna" (Michael Sarne, 1968). What a beautiful movie!

  • Comment number 84.

    Like one of my colleagues I think of Withnail and I and in particular Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower", which given that Hendrix lived (and died) in London seems even more appropriate. In addition I'd echo the brilliance of Barry's soundtrack to The Ipcress File.

    To these I'd add Michael Kamen soundtrack for Mona Lisa; John Dankworth's for Gangster No. 1 and best of all Mary Poppins!!

  • Comment number 85.

    I grew up in the 80´s back in the GDR, so visiting Western Europe including London was for obvious reasons out of question. BUT the GDR managed at least to screen the great Granada-Sherlock-Holmes adaptation with Jeremy Brett.

    So my London-music will always be Patrick Gowers theme for one of my most intense experiences in television back in my childhood days:

    That said - I like the score for the brilliant BBC "Sherlock"-relaunch nearly as much. Nearly:

  • Comment number 86.

    Ah, and not to forget:

    The Austin Powers Theme!

  • Comment number 87.

    Being a complete Bernard Herrmann nut, I am thrilled to hear mention of his score to 'Hangover Square' (the film isn't any bad shakes either, I have it in my DVD collection)... Concerto Macabre is an outstanding piece of music.

    How about Henry Mancini's wonderful theme to 'Life Force'?

  • Comment number 88.

    PS... Realising that 'Life Force' isn't really what you were asking for (although it might be apropriate after the Euro Crisis)... What really sums up London for me, in regards to London on film is the wonderful Main Title song to 'Georgy Girl'.

  • Comment number 89.

    To change the mood and spirit slightly, I will have to say one of the scores/ soundtracks that stand out to me is Eric Clapton's work on Nil By Mouth. No, it might not exactly capture the spirit of London but like the film itself, (Gary, you need to direct more!) it shows a darker side that can be felt from every corner of the UK. The moody, down tempo vibes mixed with the brighter songs we hear in the club scenes are a great juxtaposition. Another choice I would have to say is the music from Rude Boy, the fantastic film about The Clash which captures some of the best Clash performances and the anger of the people of the time. In modern times where the Tories rule the roost, to me it makes perfect sense to say that Rude Boy perfectly captures the spirit of London.

  • Comment number 90.

    Although possibly a biased opinion (as it's a favourite film of mine), Mary Poppins, and in particular, 'Chim Chim Cher-Ee'.
    It's an up-lifting waltz. It's a jazzy, up-beat, toe-tapping (and at the same time) melancholic song. It has so many varying elements; All facets contrasted perfectly to such wonderful effect.
    For me, nothing describes London's wildly diverse nature quite like this song.

    And, if when viewing London from one of it's countless, beautiful vantage points you can'y hear Bert's gloriously Cockneyed tones in the air... ("On the rooftops of London.... coo, ...what a sight!!")..... well, it's about time you took a jolly holiday.

  • Comment number 91.

    The soundtrack to Closer reminds me the most of London

  • Comment number 92.

    When watching 'Heartless', one of the stand-out moments for me in that film was the music.

  • Comment number 93.

    #18 markw
    Thanks for your Michael Caine detective work.

  • Comment number 94.

    How outrageously London-centric of you, Mark.

    I'd add my nomination of 28 DAYS LATER. The playing of 'Abide with Me' quietly in the background as he finds his parents' corpses in bed in a loving embrace, never fails to move me. Even if I am an atheist.

    But frankly I think the city it happens to be set is irrelevant, London or Nottingham. Add to that I hardly ever remember the soundtrack to a film anyway, I find it rather impossible question to answer.

  • Comment number 95.

    #80 London Calling was also used in the Bond film Die Another Day.

    The Long Good Friday and The Ipcress File get my vote.

  • Comment number 96.

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm gonna throw it out there ... 'Muppet's Christmas Carol? Now that is London at it's best!

  • Comment number 98.

    Did anybody mention "A Clockwork Orange"?

    Synth versions of the classics (e.g. Purcell's Funeral March for Queen Mary and 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th) set in dystopian London. Music is an essential part of the story line, not just a soundtrack.


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