Due to the current concerns about transmitting and contracting Covid 19, we have reluctantly decided to cancel the remainder of our films for this season. This is disappointing but seems to be the responsible course of action in order to protect ourselves and our audience.
We shall be in touch again when we feel able to start showing films again and look forward to seeing you then.
Meanwhile, our best wishes for your good health.
I wanna tell you a story, a true one. I was born in Newport, in that fair and smiling land of Gwent. The birthplace of the poet W H Davies:-
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
My first recollection of the cinema is from when I was six. My mother, at this time, went through a lengthy period of being afraid to travel on buses, so we walked everywhere. She was five foot nothing and a slow walker. The walk to the cinema took us a good forty minutes. At the time (1948) there were eight cinemas in Newport. We always went to the Odeon. It was very spacious and the front row, where we always sat, was as far away from the screen as the back row in most multi- screen modern day cinemas. The Odeon, being warm and comfortable, was a step up from where we lived, and we would often stay and watch the film twice over, resulting in her having to wake me up to stand for the National Anthem at about 10pm. I was not a happy lad on the walk home, particularly on cold dark nights, as short trousers were the order of the day until early teens. The film that stands out for me from this period is The Three Musketeers starring Gene Kelly, before he took to singing in the rain. We definitely saw it twice over and I stayed awake and walked home without moaning once. Incidently, footage from The Three Musketeers appears in the film Singin’ in the Rain. It was used as part of the Lockwood/Lamont film The Royal Rascal.
Despite rumours that Douglas Fairbanks Jr was set to star, in June 1947 Gene Kelly was announced as the film’s lead d’Artagnan. In October, Kelly broke his ankle, forcing him to give up the leading role in Easter Parade(1948), subsequently filled by the one and only Fred Astaire; another film we saw twice and certainly walked home a couple of swells that night. The broken ankle delayed the start of filming, and whilst it had mended sufficiently to begin shooting in January, 1948, his elaborate fencing scenes required more healing time, and were pushed back to the end of filming. The critics weren’t over impressed by Kelly’s acting but recognise his energy, dancer’s grace and agility were used to good effect in the sword fighting scenes. This six year old thought he was brilliant, reliving every thrust and parry on the walk home.
My earliest memories of going to the cinema in the 1960’s was to see Born Free (I think in a cinema in St Andrews in Scotland on a particularly wet afternoon while on holiday) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Sunderland Empire.
My real interest in films was begun by an art teacher at school, Mr Pickering, who ran a film club after school on a Friday afternoon. My teenage diaries have helped my memory and the following are the films that were shown. Bearing in mind that this was the mid 1970’s and the club was open to 5th year and 6th form students I think that it is a remarkable collection:
Zardoz (featuring Sean Connery in what looks remarkably like a mankini):
The Taking of Pelham 123
The Drowning Pool
French Connection 2
Some Like it Hot (I think we should show this at some time)
Don’t Look Now (I am staggered that he was allowed to show this given the (in)famous scene)
Young Frankenstein (another classic)
Savage Messiah (Ken Russell)
Borsalino (French gangster film)
They were shown in an art classroom/studio and regularly attracted audiences of about thirty or forty.
My recollection (albeit hazy) was that Mr Pickering moved to another school in about 1977 and that was the end of the club. If you aren’t familiar with some of the films look them up. They weren’t all classics by any means but they sparked my interest in film and I will always be grateful to Mr Pickering for that.