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"The clock's stopped!"

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  • "The clock's stopped!"

    I thought members may be interested in this unusual anecdote about the time, as a 14 year old, I went to see Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch in that wonderful film "The Nun's Story", at the Focus cinema in Longton, Stoke on Trent, 56 years ago in 1961. The film didn’t do well at the Focus pay box, probably because it was far too intelligent a film for the Stokies (or at least those from the Longton area of the city), and by 9 pm on the Saturday night, when there was still over an hour of the film left to run, there were only two people in the audience…myself and an Old Aged Pensioner who was fast asleep on the front row. The usherettes had already gone home. It was obvious that the projectionist on that night, Stewart McCoy, was totally bored with the film and took the opportunity of there being practically no audience for it to leave the projection room while the film was running and come down to see me as I sat there watching it. “Have you seen this picture up to here?”, he asked. “Yes”, I told him. “Well, that’s it”, he said. I’m stoppin’ it, packin’ it off and goin’ home!” “What about him?”, I asked, pointing to the sleeping pensioner. “Wait till I stop the film an’ close the curtains an’ put the house lights on, then go an’ wake him up an’ tell him it’s ten past ten an’ the clock’s stopped!”, said Stewart. So I waited for the film to stop and the curtains to close and the lights to go on and then I woke up the pensioner by shaking his shoulder. “Wake up, mister, it’s ten past ten and the film’s finished”, I told him as he emerged from his slumber. He looked at the clock on the wall at the side of the proscenium and said: “But it’s only five past nine!” “Well…errrr….the clock’s stopped!”, I told him and escorted him out. If the manager, Dennis O’Grady, had been there that night, he would have gone up in the air with Stewart about finishing early like that, but he wasn’t (pasted in from Microsoft Word).

  • #2
    Haha, very good! But did you get to see the rest of the film at another session that week, and at no charge?

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    • #3
      No, I'd already seen it when it was half way through on the first showing that Saturday evening, so by the time Stewart decided to call it a night, the part that was on when I came in had already been on again. In those days, the shows were continuous from 1 pm on Tuesday's; Thursday's and Saturday's (and from 5 pm during the rest of the week) and if the feature was half way through when you went in, you sat through the rest of the film; then a short or newsreel; then the supporting film, adverts and trailers and then watched the feature again until it got to the part where you originally went in. Then you either left, piecing up the film in your mind, or stayed until the end. However, with THE NUN'S STORY being a long film, over two and a half hours, all they had on support with it was a seven minutes Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Technicolor cartoon entitled GO FLY A KIT (as in kitten, not kite), the adverts and trailers. I recently found that cartoon on Vimeo and watched it again for the first time since 1961. So a hell of a long time between viewings.
      Last edited by darrenburnfan; 15th May 2017, 04:57 PM.

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      • #4
        Great! Love those old anecdotes. My old boss told me of a time when he was requested to project Charlie Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator' at a rather large mansion and a private party for theatre luvvies, as the film went on the guests ( tanked up on booze) were getting rather rowdy, loud and had distractions other than the screen. He thought well blow this, he wanted to get home, so as this 16mm film had three reels....he left the centre one out .So after the film ended rather quickly he was making his way out, rather pleased with himself that he had got away with it, when his path was blocked by some old geezer (there is always one) who loudly lectured him about the importance of each scene, the travesty he had just committed and basically he should be taken out and shot..As this guest was also pie eyed and swaying about a bit himself he just managed to convince him that he had probably dozed off during the middle.

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        • #5
          Ah-haaaaaa! A good one, Bert!

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