Previously at the ICA - Films

Norman Cohen, The London Nobody Knows, 1967

ICA Cinematheque: The London Nobody Knows

8 Apr 2014

A chance to see The London Nobody Knows (1967) on 35mm, James Mason's tour of some of the fast disappearing sights and characters of mid-1960s London.

The London Nobody Knows is a documentary released in 1967 that has been described by many with the single line ‘a stroll around the city with James Mason’. The film, directed by Norman Cohen and based on the book by Geoffrey Fletcher, is a sharp and sombre portrait of a fast disappearing city. Fletcher has been hailed as the great forgotten London writer, and was apparently obsessed by a great desire to protect a city he feared was on the verge of being swallowed by tall and monstrous office blocks that would wipe out the pie and mash shops and all the eccentric aspects of London.

The London Nobody Knows was originally published as a book in 1962 followed by a string of similar publications (London After Dark, Pearly Kingdom, The London Dickens Knew), and it is still appreciated today as a strong influence on contemporary London writers. Even before British novelists such as Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd begun telling the many idiosyncratic stories about London, Geoffrey Fletcher was the man who initiated this strand of personal, human-centric stories about the ‘Big Smoke’ in order to fight unscrupulous vandalism on a city under the guise of technological advancement. An illustrator and columnist for the Daily Telegraph, throughout the 1960s Fletcher documented the scenes of a true authentic London and its people fast vanishing beneath the grey concrete tide of redevelopment projects.


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