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Friday, December 16, 2011

City of Vice

I'm always on the look out for good 18th century movies and TV series and recently I discovered a couple I had somehow missed.
I've now exhausted Garrow's Law (an excellent tale based on a pioneering 18th century barrister) and moved on to City of Vice - the story of Henry Fielding, author, magistrate and founder of London's first police force - the Bow Street Runners. 
Along with his blind half brother and fellow magistrate John Fielding, Henry tells the story of vice and violence that is the gin soaked world depicted in Hogarth's Rake's and Harlot's Progress.
But Hogarth's images are tame by comparison.  
It's a pretty gritty dramatisation of the brothels, child prostitution, molly houses, treatment meted out to homosexuals, arranged marriages and violent gangs that ruled the streets and the establishment of the Bow Street Runners to bring some kind of order to this anarchy. 
It's absolutely fascinating. Even when I have to look away.
It also reminds me that I am very fortunate to live now. I am thankful for the police and our system of law enforcement. We all complain at times but it's come a remarkably long way from its humble beginnings.
If you haven't come across City of Vice and Garrow's Law - they are both well worth watching.


  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting about City of Vice, I immediately ordered it from the local library and absolutely LOVE it. I feel like I've pretty much exhausted the gamut of 18th century films (at least those with accurately clothed actors) and this was a huge treat to find just one more through you. It is really gritty but the costuming and subject matter are a great contrast to the squeaky clean-ness of The Duchess and The Aristocrats which are my other two favorite films about that era. Even I get tired of pretty, immaculate dresses sometimes and enjoyed the lower-class jackets and petticoats in City of Vice.

  2. Hi Annabelle, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I liked the grittier storyline and seeing the attire of ordinary people too. Also give Garrow's Law a go. It has more male clothing than female but there is still plenty to look at and the storyline is great.

  3. I've seen Garrow's Law too...wish both these shows had gone longer than one season! :(

    1. Sorry to be tardy in responding Annabelle.
      I'm pretty sure Garrow's Law went to three series but City of Vice seems to have stopped at one. I checked out a Harlot's Progress but it didn't get to me the same way.