Ah, London, England. Home of soot, fish and chips, the Queen, and probably some other stereotypes. What better way to acquaint yourself with her fine customs than watching some movies set there? These movies range from musical comedies to thrillers to all in between, but they all share at least one important quality: A fine London setting.
"The Prince and the Pauper."
London is great for period dramas, and this classic from swashbuckling champeen Errol Flynn is one of the best. Based on the classic tale of two look-a-likes: One a prince, the other just some poor kid. They switch places just to see what happens, but the expected amount of hijinks ensue. The movie is filled with period London detail, so it should be a treat for all interested parties.
Alfred Hitchcock directs this teatime suspense thriller about a London woman who becomes terrified that the perfect guy who's been courting her might actually be a serial killer. Pretty common suspicion on first dates nowadays, thanks to Craigslist, but it was much less so back in the 1940s. Everything unfolds in a very genteel English manner, but there's still plenty of suspense and chills to be had. And Cary Grant is perfect casting as the charming gentleman who may be a murderous sociopath.
"Around The World In 80 Days."
Here's proof that a movie can be set in London but still feature western Phileas Fogg engaging in a gentleman's bet that he will be unable to traverse the globe in 80 days. Some people play poker, this guy goes around the world. Must be nice to be a rich Londoner.
Perhaps the definitive film set in London, "Mary Poppins" is a classic Disney musical, featuring an English family's perfect babysitter, the probably-magical Mary Poppins. She flies around with her umbrella, but she's far from a witch: She's "practically perfect in every way," as the famous line goes. The movie is too, Dick Van Dyke's questionable cockney accent notwithstanding.
London isn't all cockney chimney sweeps and politeness—here is a perfect time capsule of the city's "swinging '60s." Michelangelo Antonioni masterfully directs the story of a fashion photographer who comes to believe he photographed a murder. But the plot takes a distant backseat to the atmospherics on display, particularly those centered on the London of the 1960s, one of the hippest places and times ever. Even The Yardbirds are there!