Tuesday 25 January 2011

Lewisham cinema, BBC Radio 4 on film and a bit of Bollywood

Following my post the other day about South East London cinema, I was happy later to see this co-incidental post at Brockely Central about old cinemas in Lewisham. They've linked to the Brockley Film Club's fantastic digital recreation of the old cinemas of Lewisham, placing them in their modern day contexts - they've got recreations of:

- The Obelisk, 12 Loampit Vale. Opened in 1912, closed in 1923
- Gaumont Palace, 1-5 Loampit Vale. Opened in 1932, later renamed Odeon, closed in 1981 and demolished in 1991.
- Prince of Wales Cinema, 210 Lewisham High Road. Opened in 1922, closed in 1959 and later demolished
- King's Hall, 15 High Street. Opened in 1912, bomb-damaged during the second world war
- Rex Cinema, later renamed Studios 6/7, 15 Lewisham High Street. Opened in 1950, closed in 1986 and demolished in 1988.

What a lot of cinemas in that borough. I'm not surprised in a way because, in yet another bizarre co-incidence, I happened to be listening to a fascinating Radio 4 programme last week about early cinema and just how much a part of ordinary life was "going to the pictures" (it might have been this programme).  It turned out that BBC Radio 4 are at the moment having a season on the history and impact of cinema. You might still be able to catch some of the radio programmes in BBC iplayer.

If you can't be bothered with that, you can at least tune into this next Saturday:

"as the film season draws to a close, in a special Archive On 4, there's another chance to hear highlights from the Brief Encounters series in Brief Encounters: A World View Of Cinema. As well as an omnibus selection, listeners will hear from filmmakers and film experts who will be their guide to the global consumption of cinema (Saturday 29 January, 8pm)."

Sounds good to me.

And finally (as they say), a British-Asian writing about film and not mentioning Bollywood? Let me correct that - here's one of my early musings on 'Coming out about Bollywood'.


Plummy Mummy said...

Must try to catch the radio 4 show.
In norf London, I vividly remembering going to the Holloway Odeon with my parents, brothers, aunt/uncle and cousin to watch an Indian film. No idea which one it was but like you, I grew up with these films as my mother loved to watch them.
But for my brothers and I, the best was the Hendon Odeon which was literally at teh end of our road where we would regularly see the latest English films. It was such a treat in those days but now going to the cinema is horrific. I've got a few in my Indian films in my collection - the best has got to be Shree 420 with Raj Kapoor doing his Chaplin impression. The song Mere Juta hai Japani is very rousing.
BTW are you into French films. I'm gutted to have missed Gerard Depardieu at the Picturehouse on monday...his french films are awesome

Marion said...

When I was growing up, it was quite normal to go to the cinema a couple of times a week.
After all, there was no television then or, to begin with, very few people had a TV set.
I often went to the Gaumont at Lewisham and, occasionally to the Rex.
In those days, there would be two films and Pathe News. In the interval, between the films, a Wurlitzer organ would rise from the pit, just in front of the screen. The organist would be spotlighted as he played all the familiar, favourite pieces and this would go on whilst everyone bought their ice creams and drinks. Then we'd all settle back in our seats, ready to watch the second film.
This was the 1950s and the best seats cost 2/6 or 25p in modern money!

Raven said...

Great to read about these fantastic memories, thanks.

There's something magical about cinemas, isn't there, which really captures something about our lives, childhoods, cultural habits and our locality.

Plummy - I love Raj Kapoor's films too and also have a fair few on DVD (some charity shop in Woolwich was once selling loads off, which I hoovered up, then the supply dried up!).

I have liked French films - the last I remember going to see was Le goût des autres (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Taste_of_Others). It's good that we have the Greenwich Picturehouse showing some films which wouldn't make it into the multiplexes.

Marion - wow, what memories. I remember hearing something on the R4 prog about the rising Wurlitzer. How surreal that would be today. Do you remember the first film which you went to see?

(BTW the kids watched Wizard of Oz last night, borrowed of course from our wonderful library. and were still enthralled.)

Marion said...

No, I really don't remember the first film I saw but it would have been during World War ll or just afterwards.
I remember the last one I saw at the cinema though.
It was Ghandi, when it was first released in 1982.
I must get out more!

Marion said...

Well, I've been to Eltham High Street and stopped outside Marks & Spencer to look up at the building opposite.
There, above what is now Iceland, is the rather fancy building of what used to be an old cinema. I can't remember what it was called. The Regal?? I'm not sure. But it was definitely there!