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  1. #1
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    I've just watched this film (it was shown last Monday afternoon). Although made by an American director in 1956, it used London locations in a cockeyed fashion, placing "Portman Square" near the Thames! I deduce that the front of Van Johnson's apartment in "Portman Square" is actually a room in the Savoy Hotel or perhaps the I.E.T. building at Savoy Place as it looks out over Cleopatra's Needle and the Shot Tower (long since demolished) beside QE Hall on the South Bank. But I can't identify where the back of the flat looks out over.



    It's a dual carriageway with a crossroads and in the central reservation on one side of the crossroads, towards the viewer, just below the flat's back window, is an equestrian statue with the horse's four legs all vertical (ie, no raised foreleg like the one of Earl Haig in Whitehall). The rider looks like a general, not a monarch. I'm sure I've seen this statue in real life but where is it?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    That view is looking down onto Portland Place W1 at the junction with Weymouth Street. The statue is Field Marshall Sir George Stuart White. The statue is looking south towards Oxford Circus so to find it walk North from Oxford Circus past the old BBC radio building on your right and keep going towards Regents Park. Diagonally across from the statue on the corner of Weymouth Street is the distinctive art deco building of RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK Merton Park's Avatar
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    They took real liberties with that film. I used to live very near the Portland Place entrance to Van Johnson's flat, but nowhere near the view from the balcony!!!

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    What fascinates me about the film is the recording, in glorious colour, of the glorious orange smoggy sunsets down the Thames; the Clean Air Act would do for that in a few more years, but artists from all over came to Victorian London to try and capture that look....Whistler, this one is a Monet....




  5. #5
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Turner was the master of sunsets. Even though he sometimes cheated a bit like with this classic "The Fighting Temeraire".



    The 98-gun ship 'Temeraire' played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, after which she was known as the 'Fighting Temeraire'. The ship remained in service until 1838 when she was decommissioned and towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up.



    But this is meant to be happening at sunset - to signify the end of the old style fully rigged sailing ships - and the Thames estuary faces east, not west, so you wouldn't see the sun there at sunset



    But it's still a great image.







    Turner did quite a lot of those fierce red sunsets. He and the others were helped with some of them, the later ones, by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa (west of Java). That put a lot of particulate material into the atmosphere which made for some most impressive sunsets



    Steve

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merton Park
    They took real liberties with that film. I used to live very near the Portland Place entrance to Van Johnson's flat, but nowhere near the view from the balcony!!!
    I'm confused - is it meant to be Portman Square (which really is '23 Paces to Baker Street' or Portland Place (which is about 15 minutes walk away). Though, as has been noted, they're both a couple of miles from the Thames.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett
    I'm confused - is it meant to be Portman Square (which really is '23 Paces to Baker Street' or Portland Place (which is about 15 minutes walk away). Though, as has been noted, they're both a couple of miles from the Thames.
    I think he lives at Portman Square in the film, the view from his rear window is onto Portland Place and the view from his front window is onto Embankment and the River Thames, it would seem most of the locations used do not have any geographical accuracy or link in reality.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by christoph404
    That view is looking down onto Portland Place W1 at the junction with Weymouth Street. The statue is Field Marshall Sir George Stuart White.



    I came across this amazing fact on Wikipedia when I googled Field Marshall White:



    "His son Jack White after service in the British Army became an Irish republican and anarchist who co-founded the Irish Citizens Army along with James Connolly and James Larkin."




  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christoph404
    I think he lives at Portman Square in the film, the view from his rear window is onto Portland Place and the view from his front window is onto Embankment and the River Thames, it would seem most of the locations used do not have any geographical accuracy or link in reality.
    Great address - Selfridges and Marks and Spencers for your shopping needs, Oxford Circus tube for your travel needs and a lovely view

  10. #10
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christoph404
    I think he lives at Portman Square in the film, the view from his rear window is onto Portland Place and the view from his front window is onto Embankment and the River Thames, it would seem most of the locations used do not have any geographical accuracy or link in reality.
    I thought it was the rule in films that the view out of every window in London had to be able to see Big Ben (or actually St Stephen's clock tower) - or Tower Bridge, or possibly both. Just like the view out of every window in Paris had to be able to see the Eiffel Tower



    Steve

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    I thought it was the rule in films that the view out of every window in London had to be able to see Big Ben (or actually St Stephen's clock tower) - or Tower Bridge, or possibly both. Just like the view out of every window in Paris had to be able to see the Eiffel Tower



    Steve
    yes, quite....Actually in 23 Paces to Baker Street the film does manage to include a view of Big ben and the Houses of Parliament from Van Johnson's balcony, in the opening scenes as the camera pans around the vista of the Thames and Embankment you can see The HP in the far hazy distance as the camera pans into his balcony and with a clever cut through the balcony doors to a studio interior of his apartment.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Turner was the master of sunsets. Even though he sometimes cheated a bit like with this classic "The Fighting Temeraire".



    The 98-gun ship 'Temeraire' played a distinguished role in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, after which she was known as the 'Fighting Temeraire'. The ship remained in service until 1838 when she was decommissioned and towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up.



    But this is meant to be happening at sunset - to signify the end of the old style fully rigged sailing ships - and the Thames estuary faces east, not west, so you wouldn't see the sun there at sunset



    But it's still a great image.



    Steve
    Veering madly off-topic, but he took more liberties than that - Temeraire was known as the Saucy Temeraire, not the Fighting Temeraire, was towed to the scrapyard by two tugs, not one, and had been dismasted for years before the event depicted, having been a prison hulk at Chatham (Great Expectations - phew, back on-topic)

  13. #13
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    You may like to know that I study London locations and I can tell you exactly where this was filmed. I've been compiling a book for years with around 1000 Brit films listed/due to list.

    The apartment scenes were a set - but exterior shots taken from top of Savoy on the Embankment. Front door scenes were in Portman Place - you can see a bust staue of Lister in the distance.

    The house at the end is in Kensington Road No 25 - changed a lot since the film - very grand. Its on the corner with Queens Gate. The equestrian statue is of Napier.

    Regards,

    Andy

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: England Santonix's Avatar
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    Very interesting. Thanks Andy, and welcome to The Forum.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    So is the statue of Napier or George Stuart White?

  16. #16
    Super Moderator Country: UK christoph404's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett
    So is the statue of Napier or George Stuart White?
    Its George Stuart White as mentioned earlier. The pictures posted by Dojeen clearly confirms this. Unless there is another scene in the film with another statue but the view looking down from his window is onto Portland Place and the statue of White. The surrounding buildings such as RIBA match the shot from the film, its definitely White and not Napier. There is a Statue of Napier in Trafalgar Square but he's not on a horse and I think that is the only known statue of Napier in London.

  17. #17
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christoph404
    Its George Stuart White as mentioned earlier. The pictures posted by Dojeen clearly confirms this. Unless there is another scene in the film with another statue but the view looking down from his window is onto Portland Place and the statue of White. The surrounding buildings such as RIBA match the shot from the film, its definitely White and not Napier. There is a Statue of Napier in Trafalgar Square but he's not on a horse and I think that is the only known statue of Napier in London.
    Napier's statue in Trafalgar Square







    BTW That's General Charles James Napier (1782-1853), not the Scottish mathematician and inventor of logarithms, John Napier (1550-1617)



    Steve

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