Grange Museum

Cinema By The Sea

GENEVIEVE UK QUADThis exhibition, which opened in December 2015 at The Grange Museum, celebrates the Golden and Silver Age of British film making with its many associations with the Sussex Coast. The exhibition will focus on how Sussex, Brighton particularly so, has featured in numerous classic cinema films that were filmed on location in an era when most films were shot on a studio backlot.

Genevieve (1953) captures the thrill and spectacle of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Rally which director Henry Cornelius caught on celluloid by filming the action around the actual 1952 run, all shot in glorious Technicolor. Richard Attenborough’s celebrated Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) was almost entirely filmed on Brighton’s West Pier, and used the rolling Sussex Downs as a mass war grave to amplify the mismanagement and waste of life seen in World War One. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) sees Hollywood superstar Barbra Streisand play a seductive 18th century courtesan singing and dancing through the magnificent rooms of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion. Brighton Rock (1948) was much enhanced by its 8 week shoot in Brighton. So effective were the results that one contemporary reviewer declared “Brighton is now a film star.”

tumblr_l29o9lISl01qbilh4o1_r1_1280There were many associated film stars, writers, directors, designers and artists whose significant contributions have left an indelible mark on the British film industry include Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Streisand, Max Miller, Anna Neagle, Herbert Wilcox, Dora Bryan, Terence Rattigan, Enid Bagnold, Cecil Beaton, Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Taylor, Rowland Emett and many more.
Among the many film stars accompaning the film crews to film their scenes, and sitting for publicity photographs in Sussex was Audrey Hepburn, then (June 1951) a 23-year-old “starlet” with only a few bit parts in films to her name. She was brought to Rottingdean by photographer Joseph McKeown who was commissioned to shoot Hepburn on her ‘day off’ for Illustrated magazine. The resulting photographs, included in this exhibition trail her paddling on Rottingdean beach, frolicking by the village pond, and posing next to the Rottingdean windmill, and provide a rare glimpse of a future Hollywood icon on the threshold of superstardom.


Marcus Bagshaw, Curator, Cinema by the Sea

For more information on ‘Cinema by the Sea’ please contact the curator Marcus Bagshaw on Tel. 07826 236827 and email

For information on our past exhibitions please see our Grange Museum Archive page