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352-Charing Cross Road - Collets Russian bookshop, 1940's | by Warsaw1948
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352-Charing Cross Road - Collets Russian bookshop, 1940's

According to a research item on radical bookshops, there were 3 Collets bookshops in this part of Charing Cross Road at numbers 64, 66 and 59, which sold Penguin books - this picture is probably of either 64 or 66, although corrections are welcome. (There was also a shop at the top of Charing Cross Road, near Oxford Street that opened in the late 1970's, but burned down in the 1980's, allegedly in suspicious circumstances)


As can be seen, the shop is hosting a Russian "season" and the poster on the right hand side advertises the soviet film General Suvorov, showing at the Tatler cinema further up Charing Cross Road, which from 1941 to 1947 programmed Russian films exclusively. The exterior of this cinema building is shown in pic 297 in this set.


A synopsis of the film, by Les Adams, on the International Movie Database reads as follows, "Primarily a biographical documentary about the military career of Alexander Vasilvich Suvorov, who was Field Marshal of the armies of Catherine the Great and Czar Paul I. After many military successes during the reign of Catherine, General Suvorov broke with her successor, Paul I, the Mad Emperor, over questions regarding army policy. He went into retirement and wrote "The Science of Victory," containing maxims such as "Swiftness of movement accompanies victory," and "the real general is he who defeats the enemy before reaching him." The czar recalled Suvorov to become the leader of the joint armies of Russia and Austria against Napoleon."


It seems probable that the film was used as propaganda and as a moral boosting exercise for the people of the soviet union following Operation Barbarossa, when in June 1941, Hitler launched an invasion force of 4 million troops, the largest in history. In the UK, Laurence Olivier's film Henry V, made in 1944, served a similar purpose.


N.B. This picture is part of a set showing how one of London's most famous streets used to look in the 20th century, before major demolition work started in the 1960's and more recently, due to the Crossrail development. To take a trip down the Charing Cross Road, starting at St Giles Circus in the north, click here to see the Astoria when it was a Crosse & Blackwell pickle warehouse, the old Jacey news theatre and many other buildings, long since disappeared.

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Taken circa 1946