Visiting the Highlander New York Library at The National Liberal Club London - FILM LOCATION

Thursday, September 29, 2022 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Visiting the Highlander New York Library at The National Liberal Club London  - FILM LOCATION

I am a huge fan of Russell Mulcahy’s body of work with a particular focus on his visual styling exemplified in his second feature the genre-bending 1986 sword & sorcery film Highlander. Like many of my favourite films, Highlander feels fresh and original whilst seeming intuitively familiar.

Regrettably, I have not posted nearly enough about the stuff I enjoy and with Studiocanal’s forthcoming 4K UHD remaster release of Highlander it seems a good time to pick up the mantle and continue.

Highlander 4K UHD Collector’s Edition Poster
Highlander 4K UHD Collector’s Edition Poster

I am not the only one who enjoyed Mulcahy’s Highlander as the impression it left on pop culture has spawned:

5 further films; Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Highlander III: The Sorcerer / Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), Highlander: Endgame (2000), Highlander: The Source (2007) and Highlander: The Search for Vengeance (2007).

3 TV series; Highlander: The Series (1992 - 1998), Highlander: The Animated Series (1994 – 1996) and Highlander: The Raven (1998 – 1999).

A web series; The Methos Chronicles (2001).

As well as multiple books and comic titles further exploring the world and adventures of the original Highlander as recently as 2009.

Additionally, there has been much speculation about a new Highlander film and last month John Wick Director Chad Stahelski gave a small update to Collider that his Highlander film with Henry Cavill is in pre-production and “closer than we've ever been”.

Highlander transitions through 4 centuries and as many countries at a pace that leaves you wanting more as it follows our protagonist Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) on his long journey to The Gathering.

Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod in battle on the Scottish Highlands
Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod of the clan MacLeod in battle in the Scottish Highlands

Highlander’s backstory may start at the dawn of time but the film’s earliest visual clues dates events starting much later in the 16th Century, 1536 to be exact, on the Scottish Highlands, at Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. As the story progresses we pass through Massachusetts (1783) and Germany (1943) before most of the action takes place on the streets of Manhattan, New York in 1985.

Clancy Brown as Kurgan in the Highlander
Clancy Brown as Kurgan in the Highlander

They are an immortal race of warriors. A unique breed of men who can die only by being decapitated with a sword. Fated to duel down the ages to a distant time called the Gathering, where the last few will battle for the Prize - power beyond imagination - power that the evil Kurgan must never possess.

From the Scottish Highlands of the sixteenth century to present-day New York, Connor MacLeod, who wants no part of this, but who cannot escape his destiny does battle against his fellow warriors while the fate of mortal man hangs in the balance.

 Video: HIGHLANDER - Starring Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert - Available for the first time on 4K UHD                

Highlander was an American - British co-production shot in both the UK and US. Filming started in late April 1985 on location in London and Hertfordshire (as well as Wales at some point) before moving to the Scottish Highlands and finally shooting in New York.

I was surprised and thrilled as to how many locales in London served as many of the foreign locations seen throughout the film. Over many years I have attempted to track down the exact London locations used in the film with help from Simon James' indispensable film location guide - London Movie Guide: Walks, Tours and Locations, Tony Reeves’ Movie London and most recently excerpts from Jonathan Melville’s fantastic and revealing book of the making of Highlander A Kind Of Magic: Making The Original Highlander.

I was quite chuffed to see that the new 4KUHD Collector's Edition of Highlander actually features an audio commentary track from the aforementioned arts journalist and author Jonathan Melville.

In my short time I have thus far only come across two Highlanders: Adrian Paul who plays Duncan MacLeod in Highlander: The Series at the SCI-FI-LONDON Festival and Christopher Lambert (pronounced Kris-toff) the one and only Connor MacLeod very close above one of the London locations used in Highlander, but that is a story for another time.

The first location I am highlighting is seemingly minor - but crucial in terms of the plot development.

Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) a forensics expert in the pursuit of a weapon allegedly used in a murder, her interest sparked when the evidence indicates that the weapon may be a historical (and technical) impossibility - a Japanese sword from 600 BC with a blade folded 200 times. Her investigation draws her into the gravity of the mysterious Russell Edwin Nash. As she digs deeper into Nash she makes startling discoveries.

 Video: Highlander Signature Scene                

In the scene found at around 1 hour, 26-minute mark, Wyatt is seen visiting the Archivists Office of the New York Public Library to confer with Erik Powell (Ron Berglas) the New York State Chief Archivist - where he reveals that he has discovered something weird and believes that Russell Nash may be the same person as the deceased Adrian Montague, Jacques Lefebret, Alfred Nicholson and Rupert Wellingford and presumably is running a long game property investment fraud.

The New York Public Library Archivists Office in this scene is actually the Gladstone Library which is part of the private members National Liberal Club located at 1 Whitehall Court, Whitehall Place, SW1. The National Liberal Club is still very active but is now part of the prestigious Royal Horseguards Hotel.

 Highlander Film Location New York Library Archivists Office in National Liberal Club, London                

The National Liberal Club along with the Royal Horseguards Hotel (1 & 2 Whitehall Court), the private members' Farmers Club (3 Whitehall Court) and residential apartments (4 Whitehall Court) are all housed in the stunningly impressive Grade II Heritage Whitehall Court building. Although one large building Whitehall Court was originally designed as 2 joined buildings - Thomas Archer (St. Philip's Cathedral, St John's Smith Square) and Arthur Green designed residential apartments completed in 1884 and Alfred Waterhouse (Manchester City Council, Natural History Museum, London)designed the National Liberal Club completed in 1887.

The ornate architecture a celebration of Victorian Britain is Renaissance Revival architecture with nods to English Baroque, neo-gothic, classical architecture, French Renaissance and Italianate design. Making for a rather stunning citadel and possibly one of the most beautiful buildings in London in my opinion.

    Video: Welcome to the National Liberal Club                

Located in Whitehall the political hub of Britain, Whitehall Court has many ties to politics, Government and the military and in days gone by became a favoured location for discrete spook meetings so much so that it housed the headquarters of the SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) from 1911 till 1919 after World War I. Famously C or Sir Mansfield George Smith-Cumming first head of MI6 and Ian Fleming’s model for M resided here and earned a Blue Plaque for his efforts.

But I digress, back to the specific location:
Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Gladstone Library
Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Gladstone Library

Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Gladstone Library exact replications line the shelves Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Gladstone Library
 Highlander Film Location - National Liberal Club Gladstone Library


One Whitehall Place was originally built as the home of the National Liberal Club. Its founder was William Gladstone, four times British Prime Minister, whose name lives on here in the Gladstone Library. Though the 30,000 volumes that line the shelves today are faithful replicas, the room is otherwise just as he would have known it, including the gantry giving access to the upper levels, which now serves as a minstrel’s gallery...

          - Guoman Hotels Website

At one time the Gladstone Library contained the largest collection of “17th- to 20th-century political material in the country, including 35,000 books and over 30,000 pamphlets”
Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Gladstone Library exact replications line the shelves
Highlander Film Location - National Liberal Club Gladstone Library exact replications line the shelves

I was very fortunate to recently visit the National Liberal Club and explore the incredible inner sanctum of the club, which is a time capsule of a past age including many of the events rooms with original Victorian fittings still in place, the grand & historical cantilevered white Sicilian marble staircase, view Ernest Townsend's legendary portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, visit Winston Churchill’s old office - which is now The Bar and "praised by former US President George Bush Sr as making The best martinis in the world", as well as view the entrance of the wine cellar that leads into a tunnel that at some point was to be part of an underground railway as well as supposedly housed Churchill’s secret tunnel leading to Downing Street.

Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Sicilian Marble Staircase
Highlander Film Location - National Liberal Club Sicilian Marble Staircase

Director Russell Mulcahy actually cameos in the scene and can be spotted in the large room, look out for his trademark blonde hair of the time. Apart from the room divider and office furniture installed for the film shoot, the room is pretty much the same as seen in Highlander. Mulcahy must have liked the location as he made use of it again in his 1992 Michael Caine, Sean Young, Bob Hoskins spy thriller Blue Ice.

Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club, Churchill's Old Office now The Bar
Highlander Film Location - National Liberal Club, Churchill's Old Office now The Bar

Most recently the exterior of the Royal Horseguards Hotel and Whitehall Court served as the backdrop to James Bond’s arrival at his old workplace in his Aston Martin Series II V8 Vantage in Cary Joji Fukunaga's 2021 No Time to Die. The exterior of the National Liberal Club can be seen behind Javier Bardem's villainous Silva as he emerges from his Embankment Place underground escape in Sam Mendes' 2012 Skyfall.

Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club Ernest Townsend's portrait of Sir Winston Churchill
Highlander Film Location National Liberal Club - Ernest Townsend's portrait of Sir Winston Churchill

The National Liberal Club’s entrance can also be seen in the non-cannon 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale and has featured in numerous other films and TV shows including:

Basil Dearden's Roger Moore starrer The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980), Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), Fred Schepisi's Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, James Fox starrer The Russia House (1990), Iain Softley’s The Wings of the Dove (1997), Stephen Frears brilliant Dirty Pretty Things (2002) with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou. Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of John le Carré's The Constant Gardener (2005) Danny Boyle's Trance (2013), London Spy [E03] (2015), as the entrance of the London Sanctum in Doctor Strange (2016), The Crown [S03E08] (2019) and Christopher Nolan's Tenet (2020).

 Photogallery: Highlander 4K UHD Collector's Edition                


Directed by Russell Mulcahy Starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, & Roxanne Hart Featuring Music by Queen and Michael Kamen

STUDIOCANAL is thrilled to announce that the iconic cult classic, HIGHLANDER, will soon be available to own on 4K UHD for the very first time.

The HIGHLANDER 4K UHD COLLECTOR’S EDITION will be released on October 31 with brand-new artwork from celebrated artist Matt Ferguson, a 64-page booklet, prequel comic #1 Way of the Sword, a set of badges, art cards and poster. The two-disc set will also include a wealth of new extras including the first extensive ‘Making of’ documentary featuring all of the main cast and crew. The 4K version will be released digitally in the UK the same day.

A certified ‘80s cult classic, the film was directed by Russell Mulcahy (Swimming Upstream, The Real McCoy) and stars Christopher Lambert (Mortal Combat, Fortress), Sean Connery (James Bond), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) and Roxanne Hart.

Featuring an unforgettable original score by Michael Kamen and Queen, HIGHLANDER went on to inspire four further sequels and a television series.

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE 1985 New York City; the Battle to end all Battles. The last remaining Immortals gather together to fight to the death: decapitation alone can kill them, and the victor alone can lay claim to “The Prize”. Amongst the contestants is Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), who fought his first Battle in 1536 on the highlands of Scotland, swordsman Ramirez (Sean Connery) who mentored MacLeod and taught him the ways of the Immortals, and the evil and brutal barbarian Victor Kurgan (Clancy Brown).

STUDIOCANAL owns one of the largest film libraries in the world, boasting nearly 7000 titles from 60 countries. Spanning 100 years of film history. 20 million euros has been invested into the restoration of 700 classic films over the past 5 years.

NEW - THE IMMORTAL ATTRACTION OF HIGHLANDER: Looking back at four decades of Highlander magic in a brand new and exclusive 56 documentary featuring new interviews with Director, cast and other key crew
NEW - A KIND OF MAGIC: MUSIC OF THE IMMORTALS: A featurette on the Soundtrack
NEW - CAPTURING IMMORTALITY: Interview with photographer David James
NEW - THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE KURGAN – Clancy Brown remembers Highlander
NEW - Audio Commentary with author Jon Melville
Audio Commentary with Russell Mulcahy
Audio Commentary with William Panzer and Bill Davis

116 mins / Cert: 15

Highlander 4K Home Release
Highlander 4K Home Release