Saturday, 30 March 2013

Top Five Movies Filmed in North West England

2012 was Preston Guild Year. This is a celebration of Preston’s right to hold a Guild Merchant and has taken place once every 20 years since 1179. Celebrations traditionally begin on the first Monday following the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.  It is the origin of the local expression “Once every Preston Guild” meaning “infrequently”. Cinema Revisited celebrated the Guild by covering movies which have been filmed in the North West of England.

My niece, Lydia, did the music for us on this show, choosing a fine selection of artists from the North West and covering everything from The Smiths to The Nolans.

Here is our list of the Top Five Movies Filmed in the North West.

1.  A Kind of Loving. (1962)
Schlesinger’s film of the novel of the same name by Stan Barstow practically defined the “Kitchen Sink Drama”.  As well as superb performances by Alan Bates and (Lancashire actress) Thora Hird it features locations in Blackburn, St Annes on Sea, Bolton, Salford and Manchester.  Scenes filmed in Preston feature some of Preston’s most iconic buildings, including the Harris Museum and flag market and the Miller Arcade, complete with cigarette kiosk. The cinema Vic and Ingrid visit on their date is now the Lava/Ignite night club on Church Street.

2. Whistle Down the Wind. (1961)
Alan Bates appears again, along with a young Hayley Mills, in this timeless tale of Lancashire schoolchildren who believe Jesus is hiding in their barn. It is filmed around Burnley, Bacup and Downham and children from Chatburn Primary School were cast in minor roles.  Rumour has it that the local schoolgirl cast as the youngest Bostock sibling was, for a time, landlady at Blackpool’s favorite Indie hangout The Blue Room.

3. East is East. (1999)
This film about a Pakistani Muslim, his Irish Catholic wife and their mixed ethnicity children is a firm favourite with British audiences. Set in the 1970s it follows the children’s attempts to grow up as ‘British’ despite their father’s desperate attempts to ensure they respect his religion and Pakistani customs. Set in Salford it was filmed in Ealing Studios and Openshaw in Manchester with (bizarrely) Middlesex doubling as the Yorkshire town of Bradford.

4. Yanks. (1979)
This film about American Troops stationed in Northern England during World War II opens with the point of view of the soldiers surveying the bleak and windswept Northern countryside.  The film features Oldham, Stalybridge and Glossop, St Mary’s Church in Stockport and the railway station at Keighley.  I personally dislike violence in films and the lynching scene, filmed in Hyde Town Hall, is particularly upsetting yet the power of the scene is a credit to Schlesinger in terms of the way it is set up and filmed.

5. Hindle Wakes.  (1927, 1931 and 1952)
We only briefly talked about Hindle Wakes as we were unable to get hold of copies of the film in time for the show but it has to be mentioned in view of the fact three versions were filmed. Set in local holiday resort Blackpoolthe “Wakes” of the tile refer to the “Wakes Weeks” holidays, when mill workers were given a week off to visit the seaside.  All three versions were filmed in Blackpool and Manchester. The films were based on the Stanley Houghton play of the same name, considered extremely shocking and controversial at the time as it deals with a woman choosing to have a no strings attached sexual adventure with a man from a different social class.

A little oddity for you - I took this photo in The Stanley Arms pub of a lithograph of the 1882 Guild Celebrations.  Notice the strange, demonic figures in the foreground. I have no idea who or what they represent so if anybody does know please, feel free to enlighten us!

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