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  1. #1
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    Prior to the Multiplex , some cinemas really were like the one in " The Smallest Show on Earth" - privately owned and ofter staffed with eccentric characters ( I can just about remember the last of the Doormen trying to make you queue outside the Cinema ).



    My most vivid experience was some time after the Multiplex era , in a local Cinema in the 1980's. Even in the 1980's it was an anachronism , on a high street in a very small Midlands town ( Long Eaton ) . It only existed because the Owner kept it going against all odds. I visited it one night .



    The Ticket desk was a formica affair - as i remember the tickets were torn off a Roll. I asked for a Tea and the Owner actually went to the Kitchen and put the Kettle on! All this while people were queing behind me. Eventually he came back with the Tea and I found a seat. It really was a " Knees-tucked-under the chin" affair , none of your modern frippery like comfort! I have forgotten the film but there was an arbitrary intermission. There may have even been someone selling Ices at the front.



    While I'm in the rosy nostalgia - another very small cinema ( this time in Belper ) used to have intermissions with an " Oil Slide" on screen . It was like being at a Pink Floyd Gig altho at the time i was about 14 so I didnt realise that! I can't remember the name but it was so small we used to joke "Race you to the Seat! "



    Anyone else have memories of when cinema was a little more quirky?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    (Johnny Rico @ Apr 17 2006, 09:49 PM)

    Anyone else have memories of when cinema was a little more quirky?
    The Embassy cinema in Esher High Street used to have an usherette who, halfway through the big picture, used to walk down the centre aisle, shouting "Is everyone enjoying the film!??"



    rgds

    Rob

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    There was also a real life Smallest Show... based around the making of Coming up Roses. It was shot in a dilapidated cinema but after filming was completed the cinema was refurbished and re-opened by the director.

  4. #4
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    There is a guy in the Blue Mountains area of New South Wales, Australia who shows classic films to patrons most evenings at the back of his home in a place not much bigger than a converted garage.

    He has proper old style cinema seats installed and presents the actual film posters and scene cards relating to each film showing. He even does requests if you give him notice.

    Reminds me of the unoffical Laurel & Hardy museum in Ulverston, Lancashire that shows the duo's classic films continuously in an area that looks like a converted cave.

    Anyone else been there?



    Dave.

  5. #5
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    Have a look at this

    http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac....s/Contents.htm



    A History of Wolverhampton's cinemas. The most basic of the lot was the Ideal in Wednesfield where one sat on backless wooden benches.



    My local was the Clifton, Fallings Park, which had lino that gave off a most peculier smell - or was it the polish they used?

  6. #6
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    (Johnny Rico @ Apr 17 2006, 09:49 PM)

    Anyone else have memories of when cinema was a little more quirky?
    I remember as a young sprog i used to visit the GRAND cinema in Hyson Green, Nottingham. the front was no bigger than a shop front and on entering you passed through 2 large heavy red velvet curtains. The ticket collector stood at a bulkhead and had a string with a big needle to collect the stubs. For some unknown reason we used to think it funny to pull them off the string and then snigger as she had to collect them back up. Naughty but nat as bad as todays youth, they would probably take the place apart.



    C/U Ther Worm.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    Slightly OT but I've been to two attic cinemas...one where a little 16mm projector whirred for the three chairs perched among bulk-bought organic produce, beaming silent images through the joists in a bungalow....but magical, nevertheless, due to the rarity of the films....the other was equally magical, but just slightly grander...twin 35mm cinemascope projectors, seating for around 20...surrounded by original posters and memorabilia...and unique films....and good company too, isn't that right Steve?

  8. #8
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    (penfold @ Apr 18 2006, 11:23 AM)

    Slightly OT but I've been to two attic cinemas...one where a little 16mm projector whirred for the three chairs perched among bulk-bought organic produce, beaming silent images through the joists in a bungalow....but magical, nevertheless, due to the rarity of the films....the other was equally magical, but just slightly grander...twin 35mm cinemascope projectors, seating for around 20...surrounded by original posters and memorabilia...and unique films....and good company too, isn't that right Steve?
    That's the best "attic cinema" around.

    He's got a great collection of films as well.



    Steve

  9. #9
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    (Johnny Rico @ Apr 17 2006, 09:49 PM)

    Anyone else have memories of when cinema was a little more quirky?
    I worked as projectionist at the Regent in Newtown, Powys in the late 60s. It had 500+ seats but at least half of those in the stalls had springs poking through the upholstery.

    The gear had been installed when the theatre opened in 1938 and was quirky to say the least. The curtain motor had long since ceased to work and so a small boy was employed to wind them by hand. If we were showing an X certificate film the small boy wasn't allowed to be in the auditorium so the curtains remained open throughout the show.

    Much like the Bijou in "The Smallest Show On Earth" a system of barter was operated - one regular used to pay in sausages from his butchers shop... and these were stored in the box office freezer next to the choc ices and Mivvis. Hand painted posters were pasted up each Saturday night - the artist based in Porthmadog (I think) used to take the order by phone and obviously wasn't up to date with the names of screen actors - I remember a James Bond film starring the welsh beauty "Sian Conway" and a comedy starring "Norma Wisden"

    Thursdays nights were bingo nights and a collection of home made blowers and scoreboards would be trundled onto the stage. An usherette sat behind the giant illuminated scoreboard operating switches to light up the numbers as they were called - until one Thursday when there was a pop, a flash and a scream and Joyce appeared ashen faced, pop eyed and with smoke coming from what was left of her hair...

    Despite all this The Regent was a real cinema - big screen, good sound - and provided a real big picture experience. I'm glad to note that it's still running today (in the balcony only) to a much higher standard.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    (feckenodeon @ May 12 2006, 10:29 PM)

    I worked as projectionist at the Regent in Newtown, Powys in the late 60s. It had 500+ seats but at least half of those in the stalls had springs poking through the upholstery.

    The gear had been installed when the theatre opened in 1938 and was quirky to say the least. The curtain motor had long since ceased to work and so a small boy was employed to wind them by hand. If we were showing an X certificate film the small boy wasn't allowed to be in the auditorium so the curtains remained open throughout the show.

    Much like the Bijou in "The Smallest Show On Earth" a system of barter was operated - one regular used to pay in sausages from his butchers shop... and these were stored in the box office freezer next to the choc ices and Mivvis. Hand painted posters were pasted up each Saturday night - the artist based in Porthmadog (I think) used to take the order by phone and obviously wasn't up to date with the names of screen actors - I remember a James Bond film starring the welsh beauty "Sian Conway" and a comedy starring "Norma Wisden"

    Thursdays nights were bingo nights and a collection of home made blowers and scoreboards would be trundled onto the stage. An usherette sat behind the giant illuminated scoreboard operating switches to light up the numbers as they were called - until one Thursday when there was a pop, a flash and a scream and Joyce appeared ashen faced, pop eyed and with smoke coming from what was left of her hair...

    Despite all this The Regent was a real cinema - big screen, good sound - and provided a real big picture experience. I'm glad to note that it's still running today (in the balcony only) to a much higher standard.
    Dear Feckenodeon,



    It was a delight to read your memories of days as a projectionist. I had a great laugh at the details of Joyce and the names on the posters. Thanks for sharing. I'm very happy to hear that The Regent is still running. Would that were true of more old cinemas.



    Best,



    Barbara

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: England
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    As a young ankle snapper, I would go to the Granada in Bedford on a Saturday morning for the Granadiers club. Mum gave my brother and I half a crown each, bus fare was 9d return (less than 5p) and to get in was 1/-. (5p) The Wurlitzer organ was played by the man who came round our house every week to collect the insurance money. We would all stand at the front leaning on the railings watching it come up from the depths of the earth. Two films and sometimes a magician on the stage. This was in the mid sixties when I was about ten. My brother was younger. My brother had a "lazy eye" and had to wear a patch over it for a while, the Manager, who used to walk up and down the queue out side the cinema talking to the children, saw my brother, complete with patch, and took pity on him and took us both inside and put us in the box up stairs!

    Royalty...

    I could not let my ten year old ( if I had one ) go into Bedford alone now. Any way, the Granada is long gone and they built a LidL supermaket on the site. The early sixties saw the Beatles play at The Granada, second billing to Helen Shapiro!

    Going to the pictures every Saturday morning gave me my love of the movies. Happy days!

    I took my two little grand daughters to the multi screen to see Ice Age 2. Staffed by spotty surly teenagers it was not half as exiting as in my day.

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