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Metro-Land (1973)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  26 February 1973 (UK)
8.2
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John Betjeman gives a guided tour of the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street in London to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, and of architecture of the suburbs and villages that grew up ... See full summary »

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Title: Metro-Land (TV Movie 1973)

Metro-Land (TV Movie 1973) on IMDb 8.2/10

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John Betjeman gives a guided tour of the Metropolitan Line from Baker Street in London to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, and of architecture of the suburbs and villages that grew up along its length since the line was opened in the 1890s. Written by Anonymous

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26 February 1973 (UK)  »

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A man in Chorleywood fingers his organ.
1 October 2006 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

'Metro-Land' is John Betjeman's quiet celebration of the unique and special pleasures of life in one section of England in one segment of the twentieth century. Much of what's seen here was already on its way to extinction when Betjeman extolled it. If you're an Anglophile, or a nostalgic Briton of a certain age, you'll find 'Metro-Land' utterly fascinating: everyone else should give it a miss.

When the Metropolitan Railway constructed its tube line from Baker Street to Amersham during the period from 1910 to 1933, it enabled the creation of a line of suburbs from land that had been largely undeveloped and underpopulated. Orchards and meadows gave way to houses. Boarding the down train, Betjeman follows the route to its outer terminus. Here are some of the locations and people he encounters along the way:

In Neasden, Betjeman meets bird-watcher Eric Sims and follows him on a nature trail through Gladstone Park and the Brook Road allotments. In Wembley Park, Betjeman locates a never-completed replica of the Eiffel Tower, intended for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. (Wembley Stadium is there now!) In Harrow-on-the-Hill, long-haired boys in boaters sing the Harrovian song. In Pinner, residents wash their cars while listening to the Osmond Brothers(!) on a transistor radio. In Moor Park, Betjeman visits the links, swings at a golf ball ... and misses. In Chorleywood, Betjeman visits a man with an immense organ: a Wurlitzer pipe organ, which he keeps in his front room and plays every day. In Amersham, Betjeman indulges his fondness for architecture by visiting the modernist house built by Amyas Connell for Bernard Ashmole.

Finally, in the quaint village of Quainton, Betjeman expresses relief that the railway extends only so far, enabling nostalgists like himself to enjoy places still untouched by modern travel. Which is part of the problem: modern technology brings people closer to the old-fashioned way of life while acceleratng the decline of that same phenomenon. Much of what Betjeman celebrates in this 1973 video is already (as I write this) long extinct. Doctor Beeching, where are you? I'll rate this fascinating documentary 10 out of 10 ... for Anglophiles only, though.


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