When I started this blog under its current title this was the kind of thing I wanted to write about. An unusual film in a beautiful cinema, the kind of thing one rarely finds outside of London.
I had been intending to visit The Phoenix in East Finchley for quite some time but never got around to it. The chance to catch a silent film there seemed all the more exciting. And, as expected, it’s a rather lovely place: a one screen high street cinema from another era. The staff were pleasant, there was an upstairs cafe serving attractive looking food and good coffee, and the whole thing is set up for a good cinema experience. That’s before I even get on to the fact that the room you watch films in looks like this:
The film itself was wonderful too. A real reminder that late silent films are often amongst the best. Underground is a kinetic film that features some really exiting tracking shots and beautiful chiaroscuro cinematography.
Underground is concerned with a couple of things. First, it shows off the still rather new and exciting Underground network in 1928. But it uses that as a springboard to tell a fascinating story of the interconnected fortunes of four ordinary Londoners. At the centre are two guys trying to win the heart of one girl. But as she falls for one the other gets jealous and a thriller of sorts ensues.
While the historic novelty is certainly a selling point, the real pull of Underground is that it’s simply a great film. British silent cinema seems to often get forgotten amongst the American and German classics of the period, but Underground is real proof that the British could do it just as well.
Viewed at: The Phoenix, East Finchley