Thursday, 5 February 2009

Introductions and Other Stuff

In putting together this history of the Odeon, I have seen how the cinema scene has changed over the last thirty years. In 1962 (the year I was born) there were around thirty cinemas in Edinburgh.

Now in the nineties (when I wrote all my notes: BC- before computers.) the number of cinemas is six. The Cameo, The Dominion, The MGM Cannon, The Filmhouse, The UCI and the Odeon.

The Cameo had not survived the last thirty years; for a period of time it was closed. Now it has re-opened as an art house cinema. Showing the more high-brow or cult films of the day.

The Dominion cinema the only independent, family run cinema in Edinburgh. It is managed by the Cameron family, as it has been for many years. The cinemas philosophy in the sixties was only to show films that the then manageress would watch herself.

The MGM Cannon for most of it's life had been know as the ABC. It became the first multi-screen cinema in Edinburgh. A few years later the Dominion followed suit installing a second screen.

The Filmhouse, a purely art-house cinema. Showing films from the Worlds film producing countries.

The UCI multiplex, a true purpose built. Twelve screens in one massive complex. The idea of course had come from America around the mid eighties, but it wasn't until the late eighties or early nineties that that type of cinema arrived in Edinburgh.

The Odeon itself has changed over the last thirty years. In the sixties; my first experience of it, and most of the seventies it was a one screen cinema. It then moved on to three screens, and finally as it is now a five screen cinema.

The Odeon is (was) situated on the Southside of Edinburgh, on Clerk Street. It is a rather impressive building with building with white marble front and Greco-Roman pillars, a throwback to the era in which it was built. When all things ornate were appreciated. Inside the auditorium statues adorn the walls, and the roof was decorated with hundreds of lights to represent the stars in the sky.

As I started this history of the Odeon I had little knowledge that it would overtake my life so. My association with the cinema started around June of 1965. My mother had taken a job working in the booking office. It was the first to be opened in a cinema in Edinburgh. At that time The Sound of Music was showing. From that early age the only scene I can remember is that of the goat puppets. Not much to remember from a film that played for 85 weeks. But when it was the the only thing showing I did get a little bored. I was told by my mother that I wasn't allowed to go outside and speak to people waiting in the que, and tell them the end.

After The Sound of Music, things did get better. Films didn't run for quite as long, and there were films that were perhaps a little more entertaining for an enquiring mind. Films like Khartoum, Torbruk and The Charge of The Light Brigade. They may not have been the greatest films ever made; but with a short run you didn't get bored watching them over and over again.

It was late 1971 that my mother left the Odeon, so my time with the Odeon stopped. I recall that she had managed to secure a couple of tickets for the Gala premier of the new James Bond film Diamonds are Forever. It was a special evening with a whole host of stars at the occasion. Sean Connery, Rodger Moore and Jackie Stewart to name but a few.

After that point in time my visits to the Odeon became a little less frequent, televised films were where I saw films. A little less of the magic of the big screen, but it kept me occupied.

(Due to slight errors in Putting this Blog together posts for the moment may become a little out of order, this I hope will be sorted soon) Just like watching a film and it splits and it has to be re-spliced.
"only ever seen this happen on one occasion, but not in the Odeon, although it probably did somewhere in it's history."

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