Monday, 29 February 2016

At The Movies

12:09:00 Posted by ChristoDGS , , No comments
Going to the pictures is something embedded in me since infancy by Sonia Livesey who is about eight years older than me and who was trusted enough by local mums in the streets of terraced houses in Little Layton where I grew up to round up the tines to go to Saturday morning Cinema Club at what was then the splendid Art Deco Odeon Cinema, and is today Funny Girls - the Odeon of 2016 is now on Rigby Road where Blackpool's then Rugby League and Greyhound Track existed.

I cannot remember any of the films we enjoyed "back then" (the 1950s) being in colour - but b/w was fine.  And it was my introduction to stories being told in episodes, Flash Gordon, of instance, not realising until five or six years later that Dickens, for instance, let his tales play out over numerous episodes in print magazines - stories on an early version of the "Never, Never" as books were expensive, but a magazine could be afforded each week.

The Saturday morning film shows began with a famous sportsman, usually from memory, a boxer, displaying a recently-won title or Lonsdale Belt, then a newsreel (no TVs or 24 hour news, but where  learned the brand Pathe).  Then the latest episode of the serial, a break to buy ice lollies, and a film at the close.  Lots were from The Children's Film Foundation, and featured youngsters playing on bomb-sites which to us in Blackpool looked to be great fun.  Blackpool had escaped major bombing, Central Station and Seed Street being the only recipients of Nazi bombs, probably from planes getting rid of their left-overs from a raid on Manchester or Liverpool.

But what really sticks is the reek of chewing gum and body odour and the inability for an audience of children to keep quiet for longer than a few seconds.

What I only realised later is how much in pain and grief my mother must have felt after the shock of my father's sudden death in the summer of 1953 - and "going to the pictures" was a weekly escape.  She loved Dirk Bogard, Yul Brynner and musicals, and I'm very glad to have been taken along on her Technicolor escapes: everyday Britain was so monochrome in the 50s.

For me the movies have always represented life in different worlds, and as I aged my tastes sought out foreign films - Truffaut, Godard, Sergio Leone - and I began to apply what I had learned in writing about literature to the craft of film-making.  Directors attracted me to their movies as much as *stars* did, and Polanski's Chinatown stands out - I must have seen that at least five times and notice something fresh on every viewing.

Today, of course, I can satisfy most of my desire for film by scouring the many, many, many TV channels and their film offerings - if I visit a cinema itself it is usually to see a "live" performance of a play, often the RSC presenting Shakespeare.

Thank you for reading.

(c) C J Heyworth 29/02/2016
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