Elephant & Castle – Champagne Charlie (1944)

Champagne Charlie (1944) | Elephant & Castle

Depicting the emergence of Variety theatres which through stricter licensing in the 1870s replaced music hall drinking establishments, the film is loosely based on the real life rivalry between the music hall performers George Leybourne (Tommy Trinder) – “Champagne Charlie” – and Alfred Vance (Stanley Holloway). Director Alberto (‘Monster of Highgate Ponds‘) Cavalcanti’s camera prowls London’s alleys and yards, contrasting the lowly origins of stars of the music halls with the lofty heights they eventually rose to, a contrast embodied in the staged opulence of the musical sequences. The opening scene is set in the Elephant and Castle pub, haunt of boxer Tom Sayers whom Joe Saunders (based on Leybourne) and his brother challenge to fisticuffs.