Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Blind Boys of Alabama Shop now Fitbit

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
52
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£12.78+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 8 March 2009
This DVD captures perfectly a nostalgic feeling of the 1960s.
The 45 minute documentary "THE LONDON NOBODY KNOWS" has James Mason as your guide through streets of 1960s London showing you buildings and ways of life which even then were being lost forever - such as street performers including a "strong man", and a once vibrant, but now derelict theatre - as they are replaced by the modern era, itself now a chapter in history. It is a fascinating visit into 1960s London which brings the past to life better than any reconstruction or fictionalised film setting could manage.
"Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" is an enchanting short musical film. The melodies, beginning with the romantic french style title song, complement the cinematography warmly evoking the fashion, charm and innocence of a bygone era as the main character, a young man played by Anthony May, cycles round a pretty Hampstead village (not Belsize) in 1968 London in search of a beautiful model played by Judy Huxtable.
0Comment| 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 March 2010
In my late 40s, and born and bred in Islington, "The London Nobody Knows" has been one of the best purchases I have made for a long time. Naturally, the scenes shot in Chapel Market brought back many a memory, some wonderful and some not quite so good.

Being a child when this was made (1967), my views of the era are somewhat halcyon: playing outside, in the park, a simple life. What struck me more than anything about this superb documentary was the grinding poverty and squalor in which so many people still lived in the 1960s. Whilst this era went around the world as "the swinging 60s", fuelled by imagery of Carnaby Street and Kings Road, and Britain's dominance in the pop world, the reality for the overwhelming majority could not have been any different.

Scenes of meths drinkers brought memories flooding back of seeing these poor down and outs on the street, and made me wince when viewing them. Especially heartbreaking is the scene where James Mason interviews people in the Salvation Army hostel: 6 shillings for accomodation was a fortune in those days even for those at work.

Coupling this film with 'Les Bicyclettes de Belsize' is not at all incongruous, but a stroke of genius. In an instant, it contrasts the 'soft-focus' world view that many may have had about 'Swinging London' in the 1960s, with the reality that you have just witnessed in 'The London That Nobody Knows'.

This utter gem of a DVD should be in everyone's collection and, importantly, should be made mandatory viewing as part of the National Curriculum.

I would give this 10 stars if I could!!!
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 April 2017
I have been looking for this film for years, so glad I found it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 April 2017
Excellent item, posted quickly.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 May 2017
brillant.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 22 November 2008
I write as a fan of 'Les Bicyclettes de Belsize' since I first saw it on Channel 4 in the UK during the 80's. I was too young to have seen it when first released in the cinemas, where it ran before 'The Collector' and 'The Twisted Nerve'. This is a sweet simple story of how a boy and girl get together one sunny afternoon in 60's London. Filmed in only 7 days, it brought together the future wife of Peter Cook (half of Derek and clive) Judy Huxtable, and successful stage actor Anthony May. I recommend this film to all incureable romantics, anyone who loves musicals, and everyone who loves a happy ending; a real family treat. As the DVD has no extras, I have filmed a short interview with Anthony May which can be seen on 'Youtube'.
11 Comment| 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 November 2012
The London Nobody Knows, despite its ham-fisted name and leftfield direction, is a gem. Presented by classic British actor James Mason, this is not a rose-tinted view of the capital, but a warts 'n' all 1967 look at REAL behind-the-scenes Sixties London life.

I grew up in 1970s/80s North London and saw this film as a kid on BBC2 in 1987 and have never forgotten it. There are some amazing scenes: Victorian (and earlier) shops and houses that had not changed a bit, with all the original features; a derelict music hall, old dockland side streets, bombsites, pie and mash and eel shops, Jewish groceries and market stalls - all looking like they would not pass an Environmental Health check today - plus street characters and performers of old: street singers, a strong man, a hippy musician... all just trying to make ends meet.

The film is somewhat of a contradiction: Mason says that it is not nostalgic - he even applauds the demolition of 'that horrible, ugly Victorian architecture', which is all nowadays listed and worth a fortune - yet the whole film is tinted in nostalgia and the passing of an age.

There are one or two very Sixties 'zany' efforts at film production: the Egg Smashing Factory skit and the radiophonic music raise an eyebrow, but are of their day. It should also be remembered that the film was a Norcon production - by young director Norman Cohen, who also directed the 1971 classic comedy Dad's Army movie.

Some other reviewers have said Mason's presentation is 'hammy', 'disinterested' or 'he didn't really want to do the film' (- quite how anybody would know this last criticism is unfathomable). 'Hammy'? Well, he was, after all, an old style actor taught on the stage, but 'disinterested? Never. His presentation is in complete consistence with the film's style: this is not Panorama but a somewhat melancholic and quasi-nostalgic view of old London as it was going through a big programme of demolition and modernisation, tower blocks 'n' all. Of course, he wouldn't agree to the programme if he didn't want to do it! Mason's presentation was a fresh angle on what could have been just another history documentary.

Yet the film is also disturbing and painfully honest: from repeated scenes of wreathing slithery eels getting bloodily chopped up alive on the chopping block, to pitiful scenes of meths drinkers, down-and-outs, 'bum fights', the homeless, penniless immigrants, the mentally-ill - all abandoned by society... or charged six bob a night by the Salvation Army for Victorian-style institutionalism. The drug of choice for the homeless seems to have been meths and cheap booze as opposed to the hard drugs/heroin of today. Interestingly, there is none of the pixelated faces/censorship that seemingly appears on any TV face today - even if the people are filmed breaking the law.

Poles apart from The London Nobody Knows, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize - quite why it has a French title, plus I couldn't see any of it filmed in Belsize Park: it all seemed to be Hampstead, Hampstead Village, Parliament Hill etc - is, as another reviewer said, a harmless piece of 1960s 'fluff'.

More concerning is that the programme seems to be a piece of 1960s 'product placement'- focusing on the man and the little girl's Raleigh 'bicyclettes', the man even crashes into a huge Raleigh advertising poster. The message seems to be that if you are a young, happening, hip kinda guy and you buy a Raleigh bike, you will get the pretty girl model: the eagle-eyed will also spot a Raleigh credit appearing in the closing titles! That said, too serious an introspection is not completely needed - the film is very dated to the 1960s: the Hair-type music, the California-style credits' font and Swinging-Sixties feel, very much pigeonhole the film to whatever is your viewpoint: either a twee, cheesy, bit of Sixties hippy nonsense or a nostalgic, sign-of-the-times of a seemingly innocent age, now gone forever.

Perhaps "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" should have been first on the DVD as the fantasy London and then The London Nobody Knows second, as the blunt reality.

Both films are crystal clear, having been digitally-remastered, giving them even more of a slightly-disturbing time-travel feel. They are both definitely worth watching, even just as one-off viewings.

Whatever your viewpoint on their worth, they will make you think about them afterwards - which is, after all, what film should make you do.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 February 2009
A really beautiful 1960s documentaary where James Mason takes us through forgotten parts of London. It is witty and sad and most of the locations on the film have now dissapeared. Mason talking to the down and outs in the men's hostel is very moving.
It would be very hard to get a film so poetic financed now! Watch it for a glimpse of a world truly gone. Worth buying.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 24 March 2008
This DVD consists of two films, 'The London Nobody Knows' and 'Les Bicyclettes De Belsize'. They have a couple of things in common; both are short-the first 45 minutes, the second 30; and both were filmed in London in the 1960's. Both are in colour. And both are collector's items.

'The London Nobody Knows' is presented by James Mason, and begins at a run-down music hall (falling down in fact) in Camden. The atmosphere of seedy neglect is permeated with a feeling of ghosts in the wings; one of the actresses here was the wife of the infamous Dr. Crippen. We move onto a variety of places and people, little known, as the title suggests. One intriguing place is a gents toilet in Holborn where a fish tank was kept- complete with fish- above the urinals. Some goldfish suffered the indignity of being placed back in this tank for the purposes of demonstration in the film, but were presumably returned to more salubrious surroundings afterwards. The gents, incidentally, is gas-lit. It is, of course, no more, as is another toilet which resembles the classic French pissoir, totally unexpected in London. Another oddity shown is the elegant gas lamp near the Savoy Theatre which acts as a ventilation system for the sewer underneath. Is that still there? But this film is about people more than things, and we see a slow parade of (largely) men who are down on their luck. The Salvation Army hostel is home to many, and Mason is seen chatting to some men, all of whom seem quietly resigned to their lot. One of the Army bands is seen marching the car-free streets with a group of children in tow; remember when that was a common sight? There's a couple of true eccentric Street Entertainers, real characters who you don't seem to get now. (Another of the joys of this film is seeing little incidentals; the buskers are pictured in the pub, and on the bar there is a pump- for the dreaded Watney's Red Barrel!).

And there is a really heart-rending moment where another man, poor but dignified, sings a sort of sad lament, in, I think, Yiddish, against a background of old buildings crumpling down under the demolition ball.

But don't think this is a morose film; far from it. The spirit of community was just about still hanging on in there in the sixties, and everywhere you see groups of people, in markets, in a huge family shop staffed by people in white coats, and of course children larking around everywhere. I said James Mason presents the film; well only up to a point. Most of the time the director lets the camera do the talking. People are seen, and are heard; but we don't need to be told. This is true, classic, documentary.

The other film, 'Les Bicyclettes De Belsize', is a real oddity. It is more in the French style than English, from the very opening with a very French-style song (apparently the original recordings are collector's items). In fact the first three minutes are one continuous pan across the roofs of Hampstead Village, with all sorts of mullarky taking place, including a man escaping through a window. He is clad only in underpants. A man (in underpants) is seen shaving. Then a man (not in underpants) appears, cycling along the rooftops. As you do. He- well I'm running out of space- he finds himself following one beauty called Julie. Is there a happy ending? Watch and see.

Picture and sound quality are fine on both films. There are no extras. You don't need them. I had looked in Radio Times that night and seen what an evening of dross there was on TV, put this DVD on, and watched it. Then watched it again.

Snap this one up before it disappears. It really is something.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 February 2009
This sweet double bill is really for all the people out here who like to remember a London in perhaps simpler times. James Mason adds his considerable talents to the first film, 'The London Nobody Knows', where he treads the decaying boards of a disused music hall, conjuring the spirit of the performers long since past, meets men down on their luck in a Salvation army hostel, watches drunks argue over a bottle of meths and sees Londoners packing out an eel shop for the now cliched cockney delicacy. True social history.
The film is a slice of London life as it was in 1968, for better or for worse, and is in itself nostalgic for a previous era, which makes for rather strange viewing 41 years later.
With 'Les Bicyclettes De Belsize', one is offered a different viewpoint of London, this time portrayed as a romantic leafy dreamland as we follow a young lad search for his perfect girl through Hampstead on his unusually small girls bicycle. Not one to take too seriously, but a fun watch all the same.
I would recommend both films to lovers of quirky British cinema.
0Comment| 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)