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London on screen: the strip club from ‘Mona Lisa’

Bob Hoskins in  the film Mona Lisa
Photograph: Handmade Films

Take a trip back into the seedy Soho of the past with British neo-noir ‘Mona Lisa’. 

The location: 28 Wardour Street, W1D 6QN.

The scene: Hood-with-a-heart George (Bob Hoskins) works as a driver for high-class escort Simone (Cathy Tyson). When she persuades him to help her look for a missing teenage prostitute, his first stop is dingy strip club Tunnels of Love.

Photograph: Handmade Films

Then: When ‘Mona Lisa’ was filmed in the mid-’80s, Soho was home to a world-famous red-light district. Sex shops and porn cinemas huddled around Walker’s Court and Berwick Street. It also spilled into Chinatown, where Tunnels of Love was filmed. George’s ruthless gangland boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine), meanwhile, uses the Raymond Revuebar as his bolthole.

Photograph: Andy Parsons/Time Out

Now: ‘Mona Lisa’ is a Brit crime classic and its seedy Soho is long gone, with Tunnels of Love now a Chinese restaurant. ‘This stretch of Wardour Street was transformed by its pedestrianisation in 2010,’ says architectural historian Edmund Bird. ‘It’s a much safer pedestrian promenade [these days].’ When ‘Mona Lisa’ was released in 1986, Soho’s sex industry was at its peak, but Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police subsequently closed down most of the venues.

For more of the city on screen, check out our list of the 30 best London movies.

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