Sunday, February 18, 2007


The currently empty Thomas a Becket pub on the Old Kent Road (corner of Albany Road), played a key role in the development of Performance , the 1968 film directed by Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammell. In the film James Fox plays the gangster Chas opposite Mick Jagger's rock star.

Public schoolboy Fox needed some training for this role so he was taken 'round the Thomas a Beckett, the famous boxers' pub and gymnasium on the Old Kent Road in South London, and in­troduced to various characters there, including Johnny Shannon, the magniloquent boxing trainer, and John Bindon, an authentic hard man who'd done a bit of film acting, slept with Christine Keeler and was celebrated for a party trick he'd perfected: balancing six half-pint beer mugs on his penis. In their world, Fox cut his hair, dropped the silly King's Road duds, learned to hit and to carry himself hard and even, it was rumored, went out on a dry run for a robbery and got into a tight spot with a stolen car. By the time he returned to shoot the film, he was the very stuff of Chas — he could show a nasty temper around the set — and he had incidentally acquired a pair of costars in Shannon and Bindon'.

Source of quote: Ready Steady Go!: the smashing rise and giddy fall of Swinging London - Shawn Levy (New York: Doubleday, 2002, p.292)

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