Thursday, 5 February 2009

Before The Odeon (New Victoria) Cinema in Edinburgh pre 1930

The first picture show in Edinburgh was also the first in Scotland. It was at the Empire Palace Theatre, on Nicolson Street; that was in April of 1896. The "act" as it was hailed was the latest novelty and scientific miracle of the age. There was a full program of films shown.
The full program was as follows.

Dinner Hour at The Factory
Children Playing
A Landing Stage
Arrival of The Paris Express
A Practical Joke on The Gardner
Trewey's Hat
Champs Elysee, Paris
The Fall of The Wall
Bathing in The Mediterranean

So popular was the program that it was retained for another week.

On July 27Th the same year the Lumiere Cinematograph returned for another six nights and a Saturday matinee. At that time it was still just an act, a part of a variety show; but it had shown that it could entertain audiences. It was not until 1899 that a change took place and the Lumiere Cinematograph Show was independent of the music hall variety acts of the day and halls were being booked to take on this new wonder.

In 1906 the Operetta House in Chambers Street was presenting regular Cinematograph performances. Pringles Palace was the first purpose built cinemas around that time.

After that point in time cinemas were springing up everywhere in Edinburgh. The silent era of films lasted until around 1928. If sound was to take on cinemas would have to adapt. The Jazz Singer had been the first film with sound. The first "talkie" screened in Edinburgh was Al Jolson's The Singing Fool; it was June of 1929. The film ran for five weeks at five shows a day. Every show a full house.

In these earliest days the new cinema going public were asked their opinion of the "new" talkies. Their view was that they liked the British films more than the American made films. "As the Americans had that unpleasant nasal accent."

Which only goes to show how times and attitudes have changed.

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