Sunday, 19 September 2010

'I've Been to the 'Pictures'. A Geriatric Wander Round the Cinema.

I've just been to to 'the pictures'. In 1995 when I last went I liked it, so I've just been again. But let me tell you about it properly.
'After the war, when I were little going to the pictures were rait popular. In 1946 there were 4709 cinemas in Britain, they reckon more people went t 'cinema than went t' church. Mind you, television were not much, Muffin the Mule weren't exactly exciting. The licence were only £2 so what did you expect. (Derby County, my home football team won 'Cup Final at Wembley in 1946. Tickets ranged from 3/6d to £2.10s). What a time to go t' pictures, 1/9d int' stalls, 1/6d in t' middle and 1/3 at' front. And for your money you had a newsreel, (Movietone) a cartoon, a travelogue, a second feature and a main film. Life definitely were definitely rait exciting, or so it seemed.'
In the fifties as I progressed from being a mere child I went to 'the pictures' at The Sitwell in Spondon, a nearby village. We walked across the fields in the pitch black, often a muddy but always an exciting experience. I didn't go a lot, there was little money to spare for such frivolity, thus such occasions are stamped on my brain.
Scaramouche (1952) no memory of the story but lots of sword fighting. Mandy (also a 1952 film, starring Jack Hawkins and Mandy Miller) memorable, a story of a deaf child's triumph over adversity. We often referred to such children as 'deaf and dumb', how none PC is that.
Mighty Joe Young starring Terry Moore and Ben Johnson. A 1949 film, surely I didn't see this at the age of ten. (Often the films at the Sitwell were way past their release date.) The Dam Busters. 1955, starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave. Very British. The 'bouncing bomb' was tested on Derwent Reservoir in my home county and I lived for a spell near Richard Todd's home at Little Ponton in Lincolnshire. Its a small world. Bit trivial, I know but it amuses me and it is my blog!
I remember queuing round the block to see Giant (1956) starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. Queueing to go to 'the pictures'! Then I don't remember picture going again until 1967. I took my wife (girlfriend at the time) to see Grand Prix (1966) starring James Garner and Yves Montand. The picture house was in Staveley, North Derbyshire, very romantic stuff. I never went again until I attended a free viewing of The American President, starring Michael Douglas and Martin Sheen in 1995.
I've never been since until this week so I can hardly be classed as a regular. Welshman Gwilym Hughes who's just died is in the Guinness Book of Records as having viewed over 28,000 films in his lifetime (including TV). He said before he died (Well it wouldn't be afterwards, would it!) 'I'm not obsesses with movies'. Evidently a real cinema addict is called a cinephile.
I've just taken my wife to see a preview of Made in Dagenham, released in the UK on October 1st. Free tickets courtesy of The Times. And no, I'm not a cheapskate, free tickets or no free tickets. Go on then, just a little bit! We sat on the back row, for old times sake; and behaved ourselves perfectly! Smashing film, again very British with an excellent feelgood factor. Very good, even more so for being free! And if the film was at times somewhat PC ( Predictable, Contrived) who cares, it made for a lovely evening. Definitely PC in the best possible sense. (Perfect Cinema.) We must do it more often.
Are you, or were you a cinephile, any favourites and what are your earliest movie memories?

35 comments:

Bernard said...

My earliest memories, Ken,
were on Saturday mornings at the 'Tanner Crush'. Loads of kids, loads of noise and the smell of oranges!
All I can remember from later on was, like you - 'The Dam Busters' and 'The Battle of the River Plate'. :)

Of course when I started taking girls to the flicks, it all went to pot with 'Summer Holiday' and 'Sound of Music'. :(

Dumdad said...

I remember with fond memories going to the Cottage Road Cinema in Headlingley, Leeds, when I was about 8 and watching Lone Ranger films and their like. I also remember being rivetted by Zulu (I've watched it several times since and it remains a great movie; as does the Dambusters).

I've just googled Cottage Road Cinema and it still exists! And has a website:

http://www.cottageroad.co.uk/

Wonderful!

Valerie said...

I can't compete with such an avid cinema goer ... grins. After the riotous Saturday morning flicks, films didn't seem to interest me. Reckon I missed the noise the kids made. I wonder if I'm missing something.

slommler said...

My earliest movie memories are of Saturday matinees. Myself and my little brother went and spent the day with films the like of Frankenstein and The Blob!! Ha!
We also went to a lot of drive-in movies with our parents. And they loved horror films. Oh boy! Scared me silly they did!!
Glad you enjoyed the film.
Hugs
SueAnn

Freda said...

Saturday morning pics as a child: Roy Rogers and Dale Robertson and stuff! Then as a teen my Dad used to take me every week: I loved everything with Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gregory Peck and so forth. As a young couple my other half and I did the customary cinema once a week: Yes to the Dam Busters, but what about 633 Squadron? In later years we were married and far away from cinemas, though we did get to see Grease and ET. Now we have a varied DVD collection. Fortunately we both love romcoms and Operation Petticoat is a favourite (despite being un-PC for nowadays, films are sheer escapism and all the better for it. Lovely to meander down the cinematic by-ways with you!

Kitty said...

What a lovely post, Ken. I remember going to 'the pictures' - if I said that now, my kids wouldn't know what I meant. I remember trying to look older, so my friends and I could get in to see David Essex in 'Stardust'! :)

Happy Frog and I said...

This has brought back memories! The first film I went to see was Watership Down and I cried my eyes out!

What also stands out from that experience is that I remember there was a smoking side (on the right) and a non smoking side on the left (we were on the left). I remember seeing the clouds of smoke spiralling up into the ceiling lights. It was quite beautiful in its own way.

Really enjoyed this post.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I used to go to the cinema quite a bit but sadly family life has got in the way. I'm hoping it will come back one day. I love films!

I particularly remember my sisters (and myself) queuing to see Star Wars at the Odeon in Newcastle.

That has sadly fallen into disrepair. Interestingly the small independent one opposite is still going...

An English Shepherd said...

The boss says you can't beat the big screen with some films :-)

Wizz

ps let us know what type of dogs you had in the past.

'Cross the Pond said...

What a great post! I loved cinema more BC (before children).I think it's because the films were better and I had time. When I was quite young (10-14) I would go to the Saturday afternoon matinee. Our parents would give us $1 each, that bought us entrance to the movie (50 cents) and a soda (25 cents) and a small bag of popcorn (25 cents). We loved it. The movies were dreadful 50's teen beach movies and a few seventies kid films (this was in the late 70's Bahamas). But we couldn't get enough. Wonderful times!

Expat mum said...

Now it's all 3-d and huge screens. The 3-d ones make you feel as if you're there and if anything jumps, it feels as if it's going to hit you in the face. Very disconcerting, especially when it's a twenty five foot owl in a mask as it was last week.

Mickle in NZ said...

Thanks for visiting. Bananas can be grown in the North of NZ (in a province original named Northland) with success, however they are not indigenous to NZ.

My parents took me to see Fantasia when I was about 5, and I slept through most of it!

Sending care and huggles, Michelle and Zebbycat

Gaston Studio said...

Brings back some fabulous memories Ken, thanks for that. Too bad we don't have such epic classics as Giant to view on the big screen these days.

Spencer Park said...

The first film I ever saw at the cinema was ET. It was a present for my ninth birthday. I remember laughing at my sister crying!

Thanks for the great comment on my blog.

Diney said...

We've both always loved the pictures and go now whenever we feel we can cough up the money for a baby sitter, though more and more have had to concede that it's too expensive an outing if we can just wait and get them out on dvd. Not the same great cinematic experience, but at least we aren't broke (yet!). My son and now my youngest daughter both love the pictures too, and we do go with our 11 year old to see all the Toy Story etc etc latest films for her age group (some are excellent actually). My first film was The Sound of Music - or perhaps Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard...my husband's first film was Pollyanna!

Troy said...

We rarely go to the cinema but Made In Dagenham caught my eye when I read about it in the newspaper. So thanks for giving it a good review, will probably go and see it now.

A man called Valance said...

Thanks for the memories Ken. Mam taking us to the pictures was a special treat, and yes, there were plenty of picture houses around. On the night Mam took us to see Lawrence of Arabia at the ABC, they were queueing across the street at the Ritz, to see A Hard Day's Night.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Bernard
Do you know, I had forgotten Saterday morning cowboys!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Dumdad
Amazing how your cinema still stands, you should go back.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Valerie
I had honestly forgotten the Sat morning flicks.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Slommler
Drive Ins, we never had them here to my knowledge.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Freda
Romcom, thats a new word for me!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Kitty
David Essex indeed, does he still attract!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Happy Frog
Thanks, I never realised the smokers were secregated, quite right too!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Hadrianas Treasures
I can't see picture going coming back, the figures after the war were a sign of the times I reckon.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

An English Shephard.
blog coming up soon re our dogs. (English Bull Terriers.)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Cross the Pond.
Thanks.Have you seen the size of todays popcorn1

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Expat Mum
i remember three d many years ago. Dying to see the new version. can you remember when they talked of doing 'smellies'!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Mickle
Cheers. Musa are fascinating but mine will be lucky to survive.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Gaston Studio
Cant make my mind up whether todays films are better, certainly years ago they were regarded as 'epics'.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Spencer Park
Hi, thanks for calling by.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Diney
It is an effort to go knowadays, perhaps its an age thing!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Troy
I enjoyed it. I will be fascinated what you reckon!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

A Mam called Valance
Ah, I remember them both well!

Snowbrush said...

I'm 61 and live in the U.S. When I was a boy, going to the theater on Saturday afternoon was a major event in my life. Tickets were 25-cents, and for that I got two movies, a serial, a cartoon, and a newsreel. I still remember scenes from particular movies, but one of the funniest things that happened to me was the day I walked out halfway through Gone with the Wind. I did this because the movie stopped and the word Intermission appeared on the screen. I thought it was a pretty sucky ending to a movie, but I surmised that Intermission must just be a highfalutin word for The End. When, years later, I saw the rest of the movie, I didn't like that ending any better.