Six films where Glasgow’s west end is the star

Six West End Films

Glasgow is Cinema City, and the heart of Cinema City is arguably the West End. Whether ‘playing itself’ or standing in for another time or another place, the West End has often taken pride of place on the big screen

Living Apart Together (1983)

…or ‘Living Together in Partick’ as some locals dubbed it, in recognition of the film’s firm grounding in the West End world of the early 80s. B.A. Robertson was in vogue at the time as a satirical rock star and he acquits himself well in the acting stakes as the returning musician who tries to re-connect to his roots and win back his estranged wife, in a variety of West End trendy settings. Directed by local boy Charles Gormley, and with cameo roles for familiar faces like Jimmy Logan, Dave Anderson, John Gordon Sinclair and Peter Capaldi, the film has recently been restored to its 80s Channel Four glory by Park Circus. West End rating ****

 

The Girl in the Picture (1986)

…or ‘Let’s Not Confuse This with a Bill Forsyth Film.’ Writer-Director Cary Parker can’t have been surprised at the comparison when he made this whimsical love story with star John Gordon Sinclair. Set in the ‘Smile Please’ photographic studio in the West End – Hyndland’s Turnberry Road to be exact – the film also features familiar local faces such as Gregor Fisher, Paul Young and Rikki Fulton, as well as an early light romantic role for David ‘Stookie’ McKay before his later tough turns on the other side of the tracks in Ken Loach films. West End rating****

 

Comfort and Joy (1984)

…or ‘We Could Try to Make a Glasgow Local Hero.’ Such an international hit as Hero was always going to be a hard act to follow, and Bill Forsyth’s Ealing-style romantic-dramatic fable never quite hits the mark. Despite a strong lead performance from the ever-reliable Bill Paterson as DJ Alan ‘Dickie’ Bird, the central plot of an ice cream war between two families is a little too near the Glasgow knuckle to extract much comedy material, and Bird’s resolution of the conflict is too pat. The film is more at home in the DJ’s West End milieu as he tries to come to terms with the Christmas walk-out of partner Maddy.  West End rating***

 

My Name Is Joe (1998)

…or ‘I Belong to Glasgow’, the theme that director Ken Loach must have been singing from these early days of his love affair with the city which has provided him with such vivid raw material of late courtesy of writer Paul Laverty. The film’s action switches between the Maryhill housing scheme world of Joe and his friends – addicts, alcoholics and footballers – and the West End parks and flats of health visitor Sarah who becomes his friend and lover. West End rating**

 

The House of Mirth (2000)

…or ‘Glasgow Plays New York’ as Glasgow’s West End was transformed into mid-town Manhattan of the Belle Epoque, with Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery standing in for Grand Central Station and the steps of New York Opera House; Kelvinbridge providing the station’s staircase; Great Western Road mansions becoming the homes of New York’s wealthy elite; and a special role for Hillhead’s pride and joy, Kersland Street. Terence Davies’ adaptation of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel succeeds in showing Glasgow’s West End at its most versatile, with subsequent years seeing the city stand in as locales ranging from Philadelphia to San Francisco. West End rating****

 

Death Watch (1980)

…or ‘Glasgow’s Future Looks Bleak’, and probably it was Glasgow’s pre-regeneration image that made French Director Bertrand Tavernier choose it as the ideal location for his dark dystopian fable about voyeurism and death. With a mini-camera implanted behind his eyes, Harvey Keitel stalks the streets and parks of Glasgow– including Charing Cross and Kelvingrove – to secretly record the last days of celebrity Romy Schneider for a reality TV programme. Glasgow at its most Gothic!                      West End rating**

 

Death Watch is available to buy on DVD or Bluray and Living Apart Together on DVD at Amazon

Images courtesy of Park Circus Films.   Death Watch, and right) (Living Apart Together

 

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