It's interesting how, within a few years of its making - sometimes even less - a film can become a "storage vat of regional memory" (a phrase coined by Deep Topographer Nick Papadimitriou) as the locations where it was shot change or disappear.
Why should one small corner of the world rather than another become a candidate for this kind of immortality? Many of the choices made by film crews probably depend as much on brute practicality - cheapness, accessibility, permission - as on any deeper considerations. And countless yet more poignant fragments of visual information may have been discarded on forgotten cutting-room floors, swept up in bins and bulldozed into oozing landfill many decades ago.
Even so, films sometimes offer us the only chance we will get to explore long-gone neighbourhoods and intuit the lives that were led in them.
A few seconds of footage from Bedazzled (1967), directed by Stanley Donen and written by Peter Cook, allow us to reconstruct one particular vanished corner of London, already on its last legs even when the film was made. Of course, it's just a partial view; many details of the area's geography remain tantalisingly beyond our grasp, and to bring our own imaginations to bear we may need to sidestep the aesthetic imposed by the director, cinematographer and art department.
Now a stone's throw from Erno Goldfinger's Trellick Tower, Elkstone Road runs from the Great Western Road, past Meanwhile Gardens and towards Golborne Road, which crosses the railway on a metal bridge painted black at the time of filming, but now a gleaming white.
Southam Street, which continues Elkstone Road after it crosses Golborne Road, is well-documented in Roger Mayne's famous photographs and Colin MacInnes's novel Absolute Beginners, but Elkstone Road is less known.
We screened Bedazzled at West Hampstead Cinema Club on Friday July 3rd 2015, and Peter Cook's friend "Rainbow" George Weiss came along to share some memories with us; the screening, and my investigation of the film's locations, inspired this short piece.