Did you see my previous posts about films with scenes in West Dorset? This time we head west to Lyme Regis, most notably seen in adaptations of John Fowles and Jane Austen books, and in particular that famous scene. Why not head to Lyme Regis where you can check out the film locations in real life?
West Dorset is the central setting and a backdrop for a relentless manhunt by German agents operating on British soil in London and Dorset in the classic thriller novel Rogue Male written by Geoffrey Household in 1939. The book was reissued in 2014 to mark it’s 75th anniversary. The geography of West Dorset described in the book can be followed on a real map, including a local holloway.This first screen version, renamed Man Hunt (1941), was directed by the great German director Fritz Lang and shot entirely on soundstages and Hollywood-backlot studio sets. These were described as “hilariously inaccurate English backgrounds” in Halliwell’s Film Guide. The film is of local interest for the finale. Unlike the novel only the climactic final reel is set in Dorset, on Lyme Regis Undercliff, where cornered rogue-gentleman Walter Pidgeon cleverly dispatches smooth-talking Nazi agent George Sanders. A more authentic remake, called Rogue Male, was produced in the 1970s by the BBC, starting Peter O’Toole.
In 2016 it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch is to star in a new film adaptation of the book.
Lyme Regis resident John Fowles saw his book The French Lieutenant’s Woman made into a classic film (1981) starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, all filmed in Lyme Regis. One of the most memorable moments in cinema history, the scene with a solitary Meryl Streep standing at the end of the Cobb wall, in her hooded cape and waves crashing all around, made Lyme world-famous. Rumour has it that it was actually a stunt man dressed in her cloak!
Jane Austen’s last great novel, Persuasion, is in part set in Lyme Regis. Chapters 11 to 14 are set in the seaside town with the characters, who arrive in November, describing the out-of-season holiday resort. A cautionary tale with the character Louisa Musgrove “taken up lifeless” after falling on the pavement of the Lower Cobb when jumping off steps there. The 1995 BBC film and the 2007 ITV film versions of Persuasion both filmed scenes there.
The Boat That Rocked, a 2009 British comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis, was filmed at Portland Harbour, Castletown on Portland, Lyme Regis and Kimmeridge. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost and Kenneth Branagh all play pirate radio DJ’s. It is set in the 1960s when the pirate radio stations broadcast music from ships moored just outside British territorial waters.
Films set in West Dorset will return! Weymouth and Portland the finale…