Almost every film set in Britain features a pub at some point. This is an attempt to catalogue some of the more interesting examples we’ve come across. We’ll update this page as we find new examples and will add screenshots or clips when we can.
An American Werewolf in London (dir. John Landis, 1981)
The Slaughtered Lamb, Yorkshire
When American director John Landis filmed this sequence he was surely drawing on his own experience of English pubs, as well as the Hollywood gothic tradition. Features Brian Glover as a garrulous local; Rik Mayall as a beer-spitting idiot; and David Schofield as an irate darts player. Set oop north, but with exteriors filmed in Wales, and interiors at the Black Swan in Ockham, Surrey.
The Battle of Britain (dir. Guy Hamilton, 1969)
The Jackdaw Inn, Denton, nr. RAF Hawkinge (spotted by Adrian Tierney-Jones)
Squadron Leader Colin Harvey (Christopher Plummer) meets his wife (Susannah York) at the Jackdaw between sorties. The pub is decorated with period propaganda posters such as “Don’t Help the Enemy! Careless Talk May Give Away Vital Secrets”.
Brannigan (dir. Douglas Hickox, 1975)
The Lamb, Leadenhall Market, City of London (spotted by Craig)
Brannigan (John Wayne) is a Chicago cop who comes to London in pursuit of a mobster on the lam. Includes a fight scene filmed at the Lamb. (More information, including a shot of the scene in the pub, here.)
Carry on Abroad (dir. Gerald Thomas, 1972)
Spotted by The Beer Nut.
Major product placement for Watney’s in the opening scenes as pub Landlord Vic Flange (Sid James) plots to go on holiday with his girlfriend (Barbara Windsor).
Derby Tup (documentary; dir. Ian Russell, 1974)
Various pubs in Ridgeway, Derbyshire
Every year, two local lads blacken their faces and, with a third friend dressed as a pantomime ram, trail from pub to pub enacting a short musical play, in exchange for tips from the punters. Yes, it is pretty weird. Catchy tunes, though. Available on Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow (BFI DVD).
Frenzy (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1972)
The Globe and the Nell of Old Drury, Covent Garden
Richard Blaney, the protagonist of Frenzy, spends most of his life in pubs. He works at the Globe alonside his girlfriend Babs (Anna Massey) and under an odious landlord played by Bernard Cribbins; and feeds his nascent alcoholism at the Nell. Lots of lovely early 1970s pub livery and decor on display, as well as a chance to see Covent Garden when it was still a fruit and vegetable market.
Get Carter (dir. Mike Hodges, 1971)
The ‘Long Bar’ (North Eastern Bar) and the Vick and Comet, Newcastle upon Tyne
Carter (Michael Caine) visits the North Eastern bar on arriving in Newcastle where he insists on beer in a ‘thin glass’. More detail on this scene and the locations here.
Passport to Pimlico (dir. Henry Cornelius, 1949)
In the clip above, the people of Pimlico realise the implications of their newly discovered independence from Britain: no licensing laws! The pub can stay open as long as the landlord wants it to and the police can go hang.
Portrait of Queenie (documentary; dir. Michael Orrom, 1964)
The Ironbridge Tavern, Poplar, East London
Queenie Watts was a singer and actress who also ran a pub in the East End of London with her husband, Slim. The documentary includes a long sequence set on a typical Saturday night in the pub, with live music. Queenie and Slim were supposedly the subtly concealed inspiration for Angie and Den, er, Watts in Eastenders. Available on Shadows of Progress (BFI DVD).
Pub (documentary; dir. Peter Davis, 1962)
Approach Tavern, Victoria Park, East London
Made for Scandinavian television, this short film shows scenes from a typical evening in the pub, with no narration and impressionistic, unsynchronised sound. Very evocative. Available as a bonus feature on London in the Raw (BFI DVD).
The Railway (documentary; dir. Jamie Wright, 2012)
The Railway, Nantgaredig, Wales
“I believe in the importance of a village pub which is essential to a good life. This is the story of mine.”
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (dir. Karel Reisz, 1960)
Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney) takes part in a drinking competition in the saloon bar of a Nottingham pub (The White Horse on Ilkeston Road, according to Alcofrolic Chap) and wins. He then falls down the stairs on the way out. Who says binge drinking is a modern phenomenon?
Shaun of the Dead (dir. Edgar Wright, 2004)
The Winchester, Crouch End
In Dawn of the Dead, American zombie apocalypse survivors holed up in a shopping mall; but it stands to reason that, in a similar situation, British people would head to the pub. The setting for the bulk of the film. Set in North London, but filmed at the Duke of Albany in New Cross, in South London.
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (dir. Roy William Neill, 1943)
The Rat and Raven, Northumberland
A perfect example of the Hollywood gothic English pub. There’s a talking bird “fond of blood”, a sign that creaks in the wind, and, despite being set in Northumberland, the barmaid and most of the clientele are cockneys.
Straw Dogs (dir. Sam Peckinpah, 1971)
Unknown pub, St. Buryan, Cornwall (spotted by Alcofrolic Chap)
This pub is now a private house and a fifteen minute bus ride from where we live. Surprise surprise, it’s another of those unfriendly rural pubs where you get the stink-eye from sinister locals. The nearby St Buryan Inn (not in the film) is very nice!
The Wicker Man (dir. Robin Hardy, 1973)
The Green Man, Summerisle
The Green Man, much like the Slaughtered Lamb (An American Werewolf in London) is packed with mad, unfriendly locals, although, in this case, they are balanced by the landlord’s daughter, Willow (Britt Ekland). She likes to walk around in the buff and attempts to seduces Edward Woodward’s virginal Christian policeman. Exteriors filmed at Gatehouse of Fleet, with interiors at the Ellangowan Hotel, Creetown.
Up the Junction (dir. Peter Collinson, 1968)
The Pavilion, Battersea
The clip above features another appearance from Queenie Watts (see Portrait of Queenie, above).
Withnail & I (dir. Bruce Robinson, 1987)
The Mother Black Cap, Camden
Yet another screen pub which might give the impression English boozers can be unfriendly: “I called him a ponce, and now I’m calling you one!”. Filmed at the Tavistock Arms in Westbourne Green, now demolished.
If you’ve got other suggestions, let us know in the comments below.