The London Nobody Knows/The Bicyclettes De Belsize (3 stars)

(PG) 73min (Optimum DVD retail)


The London Nobody Knows is a genuine curio. James Mason takes his brolly and bowler for a stroll around the seedier parts of the big smoke in the late 1960s, bemoaning ruined buildings such as Camden’s Bedford Theatre, grimacing about the state of doss houses with meths drinkers, commenting sourly on the capital’s swinging youth, and generally being an old curmudgeon. Directed by Norman Cohen (who would go on to make the soft-porn Confessions comedies) from a script based on the late London biographer Geoffrey S Fletcher’s 1962 book, it’s an intriguing tour of a vanishing city and a depressing documentation of its disenfranchised denizens.

Les Bicyclettes de Belsize is a daft short from 1969 that feels like a Confessions comedy without the smut. Set on Hampstead Heath and put to the music of Engelbert Humberdink, it was directed by Douglas Hickox, who would later put his knowledge of London to better use in the thespian serial killer gore-fest Theatre of Blood. No extras.

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