Once Upon a Time in London is no Heritage Cinema nor is it “Lock, Stock…”

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“Once Upon a Time in London” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb
“Once Upon a Time in London” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb



If you are looking for an exceptionally entertaining London set gangster style movie, the Simon Rumley directed Once Upon a Time in London should not be it. Rumley’s film has somehow become associated with “heritage cinema,” a term which should only be used in respect to films produced by Merchant Ivory.

Promotional poster
“Once Upon a Time in London” promotional poster. Image Credit: IMDb

An aspect of Merchant Ivory productions, exquisite in their execution, is that they inspire passion in the film-going audience. This is one of the many reasons individuals strongly associate the phrase “heritage cinema” with Merchant Ivory.

Once Upon a Time in London, a period crime drama, lacks the entertaining value that made such films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch worth watching.

The narrative, revolving around London mob boss Jack “Spot” Comer (Terry Stone) and his protege-but-ultimate-rival Billy Hill (Leo Gregory), does not make one root for either of the lead characters. In many productions, there is a discernible hero and villain. In Once Upon a Time in London, this is not the case. Therefore there is no one we want to see victorious.

Apart from numerous scenes featuring cockney men swearing more than the average sailor and an abundance of violence, there is little one can say about this production worth writing. Despite this point, one can easily see Rumley did not have much funding to work with.

It is evident funds were thin. To quote Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, “like butter scraped over too much bread.”

If this is the best Rumley can create, “heritage cinema” would be better left in the capable hands of individuals that know what they are doing.

Who stars in the film?

Once Upon a Time in London stars Justin SalingerHolly EarlAndy Beckwith, Dominic Keating and Geoff Bell. Each of the mentioned actors have worked on much better productions in the past.

Is there a trailer?

Final Thought

With a screenplay co-written by Will Gilbey, Terry Stone and the film’s director, Once Upon a Time in London is one of the worst productions to hit the big screen in years. Because of the apparent lack of entertainment value, this film is not one I personally want to experience again.

Watch something else!