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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England Westengland's Avatar
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    The Guardian reports a discovery in the UK National Archives: here

    Has anybody come across similar shameless/deplorable/atrocious (etc., etc.) behaviour happening when researching their local cinemas?

    I'm wondering what I may find when I look at the history of my home town's (long gone) cinema (more flea-pit than picture palace).

    It's bad enough reading court reports about neighbours' grand-parents and great-grand-parents; can I keep my mouth shut about activities in the cheap seats?

    Quote:
    "Young girls not more than 13 or 14 run about this place looking for men to treat them..."
    That doesn't happen now, anywhere, anytime, does it?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Hi,
    I do not know about that. But in 1956 the British society was turned upside down by the film Rock Around The Clock. When shown in a West End cinema, a group of teddy boys were reputed to have adjusted the cinema's seating fixtures, so that they could dance during the musical bits. Although we had heard of rock 'n' roll, the incident focused the nation's attention to it. Rock 'n roll became the number one controversy and there was huge social division. Questions were even asked in the Houses of Parliament. There was even a joke cracked by Sir Malcolm Sargeant during his speech at The Last Night Of The Proms.

    In a documentary, many years later, an ex-teddy boy did say that the incident was not quite as reported.

    I have sometimes wondered if it were a publicity stunt. But irrespective of the truth, I still love and adore 1950's rock 'n' roll. But what was not known so much by many of we Brits, was that a vast proportion of rock 'n' roll lyrics were inuendo. It was a slang term from the other side of the pond meaning....dare I use the word?..... here goes.......sex. There, that's me banned. I did not know that I was performing naughty songs until the 1970's. When I found out, I started to see the music in a different light. Now if this meaning was widespread knowledge in this country, I think the controversy would have been even greater.

    I shall stop here, as at my age, this is giving me palpitations.

    Alan French.
    Last edited by alan french; 29-04-11 at 11:34 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: England Westengland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan french View Post
    But what was not known so much by many of we Brits, was that a vast proportion of rock 'n' roll lyrics were inuendo. It was a slang term from the other side of the pond meaning....dare I use the word?..... here goes.......sex.
    I think most listeners were aware of the entendres, albeit perhaps not realising how explicit some of them really are; meanwhile, does anybody know which film popularised the phrase "rock and roll" with the general public (I know the two or three candidates - just asking out of curiosity)?


    Quote Originally Posted by alan french View Post
    I did not know that I was performing naughty songs until the 1970's.
    Is the repost: "Yeah, right" appropriate?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    rock around the clock film

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: United States torinfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westengland View Post
    I think most listeners were aware of the entendres, albeit perhaps not realising how explicit some of them really are; meanwhile, does anybody know which film popularised the phrase "rock and roll" with the general public (I know the two or three candidates - just asking out of curiosity)?

    The phrase was first used in "Asleep in the Feet" (1932) but was popularized in "Rock Around the Clock" in 1956 by Alan Freed. Being an outgrowth of blues, jazz, spirituals and country, rock and roll inherited a lot of "subject" elements from blues and jazz. I once read a list of some of those blues songs which were considered very bawdy in nature - stuff that's very rare and would probably not hear on the radio nowadays.

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by torinfan View Post
    I once read a list of some of those blues songs which were considered very bawdy in nature - stuff that's very rare and would probably not hear on the radio nowadays.
    What, like when Bessie Smith sang that she "Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl"? Or Big Bill Broonzy sang of his "Hot Dog Mama"

    Steve

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westengland View Post
    The Guardian reports a discovery in the UK National Archives: here
    Quote Originally Posted by alan french View Post
    Hi,
    I do not know about that. But in 1956 the British society was turned upside down by the film Rock Around The Clock.
    The 1930s and especially the 1940s were an unusual period in British history when the majority of the public was quite well behaved and managed to appear to be quite respectable. But that was very much the exception rather than the rule. The late 1950s and the 1960s were just things getting back to normal

    Steve

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: United States torinfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook View Post
    What, like when Bessie Smith sang that she "Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl"? Or Big Bill Broonzy sang of his "Hot Dog Mama"

    Steve
    LOL! I was thinking of Jelly Roll Morton and songs like "Shave 'Em Dry" by Lucille Bogan. Well at least the subject was an EOE back then.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Hi,
    Although I was aware of Alan Freed popularising the term, and its musical fusion and origins, I was not aware of the film "Asleep In The Feet". I have heard the expression rock 'n' roll used in a 1940's record. As a rock 'n' roller from its musical sense, I have learnt something. Thankyou. As far the music is concerned, although associated with the 1950's, if anyone knows where to look and listen, it is quite amazing how old this music, or something very similar to it, is. Such as Meade Lux Lewis' 1920's recording of Honky Tonk Train Blues. Looking at some of the responses, there are some Britmovie members who obviously are aware of this. I could talk about this music for hours. However, I am now digressing from the original thread. So I won't.

    Back to the original subject.

    I think that part of the problem in 1916, was the fact people were experiencing very hard times. Also society may have been getting used to compulsory education. Poverty had been so bad that many parents were against sending their children to school, but preferred them to go to work, because money was needed badly. At the time this report was written, there was World War 1 taking place. 1916 was particularly bad, as there was the nasty Battle of the Somme.

    Young girls probably were trying to either promote a certain trade, or as children, trying to get in the picture house on the cheap.

    I remember as a child, if an 'A' certificate film was on at the cinema, children used to, on occasion, ask adults who were entering the cinema, if they could go in with them. For the younger members of this forum, films graded with an 'A' certificate meant that children could only be allowed to see an 'A' certificate picture, if they were with an adult.

    Alan French.
    Last edited by alan french; 30-04-11 at 09:50 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK Mr Sloane's Avatar
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    Bawdy lyrics were not the preserve of Blues and Jazz - the British covered the same ground but in a comic rather than raunchy way:

    She Lost it at the Astor
    My little stick of Blackpool rock
    The end of me old cigar
    A Little Bit Of Cucumber
    It's A Bit Of A Ruin That Cromwell Knocked About A Bit
    Nobody loves a fairy when she's forty
    Keep your hand on your ha'peeny

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: England Westengland's Avatar
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    A lot of work has been done on this use of the words "rock" and "roll" and their combination, so it has been traced back a long way, as has its use on record and film ( an example of the "it's always older" [than is usually thought] research principle).

    As for its implied meaning: I have often wondered how the blues standard Rock Me Baby wasn't heavily suppressed, as, unlike many of the "rock" songs where the words are obscured in the music, in most versions of RMB they're sung slowly - and you'd have to be a very naive or sheltered adult not to know exactly what the song is about.

    As for cinema audiences - well, you can trace examples of the kind of behaviour referred to back to the pleasure gardens and the playhouses, in England. Some of it does turn up in the court records (making them very useful for research) and some of it was so general it makes you wonder whether some places actually had customers who only came to see the main attraction.

    For example: I've heard stories about some cinemas - suburban ones - in the 1950s (allegedly the high-water mark of English "respectableness" to some later commentators) which make me think that an innocent Britmovier, going to see the latest Bergman, (in the original Swedish, of course), would have had to put up with columns of seats vibrating because of the "movement" going on, avoiding damp patches on seats which weren't spilled Kia-Ora, accompanied by "noises" from other punters...

    But then, did not J. Arthur Rank himself become immortalised in rhyming dictionaries - though not for a reason he would have approved of (AFAIK)? [note: this remark may have to be explained to our American friends]

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: England
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    I'm sure I've mentioned this in a previous thread but Denis Norden in his autobiography mentions that when he was the manager of the Trocadero cinema at the Elephant and Castle back in the 40's one of the "patrons" was a lady who went by the name of "Tossof Kate" who went amongst the audience plying her trade and her fee was decided by the price of the seat you sat in.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    The Daily Cinema in the late 1950s and early 1960s is full of reports of "rowdies" at cinema slashing up seats etc. Cinema audiences seem to be much better behaved now then they were back then.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    All that, and with a war on too......

    I was reading there was no cinematic censor until 1916, so who knows what was being seen on the screen? At least in the silents days no-one could hear you scream.

    We did have a thread someplace concerning the scandalous behaviour of patrons in the early 1900's, sneaking into cinemas without paying, but that seems to have gotten lost in one of the software shakeups.


  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: United States torinfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cassidy View Post
    I'm sure I've mentioned this in a previous thread but Denis Norden in his autobiography mentions that when he was the manager of the Trocadero cinema at the Elephant and Castle back in the 40's one of the "patrons" was a lady who went by the name of "Tossof Kate" who went amongst the audience plying her trade and her fee was decided by the price of the seat you sat in.

    I believe it, one of the reasons many "adult cinemas" closed across the nation here was due to similar behaviour. There's still one in operation that I recall, in Hartford (I grew up in CT) that used to show art films, now it shows adult films. The cinema has a balcony but it's roped off so no one can go up there for tomfoolery

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