I, like some people, have had some interesting experiences in cinemas. I first visited them, before I went to school, when I lived in the Holloway region of Islington.
I can recall that I sometimes disgraced myself. Sometimes not. My maternal grandmother, was a cinema fanatic. In fact there was one cinema, The Grand in Holloway Road, where she would sit in a particular seat. If anyone wanted her, they would know where she was, if she visited that cinema. This included the staff. She was well known at the picture palaces of Holloway Road. It was therefore, a natural thing, that some cinematic visitations by me, would include this particular grandmother.
On one visit, I can remember that she had to take me out, as I was terrified. There was a historic comedy film being shown at The Highbury, again in Holloway Road. Somewhere, the star of the film, Sid Field, encountered a ghost. The ghost put her fingers strategically around her neck and took her head off. Comforting assurances from my grandmother were to no avail. I have, as an adult, seen this production on the television. I am both embarrassed and amused by this scene. Above all people to be frightened of; Irene Handel!
At this period in our history, there was a radio serial called DICK BARTON: SPECIAL AGENT. In their pre-horror days, Hammer Films brought this character to the silver screen. I recall seeing the trailer. There was something lacking. The announcer on the BBC radio serial always concluded by saying, "So don't miss the next episode of DICK BARTON:SPECIAL AGENT!"
The voice-over in the trailer said, "So don't miss DICK BARTON!"
This rather, in my childish brain, annoyed me. And so I immediately disgraced myself and embarrassed my grandmother, by shouting out, "SPECIAL AGENT!"
Another cinema in Holloway Road was The Marlborough. I do not know if my grandmother was with me, but certainly my parents were. Film going in those days could be more of a family outing than it is today. It was a different era. I have a feeling that it was a Charlie Chan film. But irrespective if it was or not, a serious problem arose in the projection room. Whilst the lights were on, my mother offered me an orange. I accepted it. Oh! it was such a lovely orange. My teeth would sink into it, and my thirst would be quenched. I am not sure how far I got, for it slipped from my person and fell. Unfortunately, we were all sitting upstairs. To make matters worse, we were in the front row of the balcony. The orange descended to the depths of the auditorium below. I bravely peered over. I no not to this day where it landed. But I do know that I saw a blonde lady below. Did it....? Oh! Dear! So I must confess, that if you were a blonde woman, sitting in the audience at The Marlborough, and was the unwilling recipient of an orange, I am sorry. It was me. I apologise.
I have given reference elsewhere to the fact that the residents of Belswains Farm House, had a complimentary ticket for certain cinemas. The house had more than one set of people who were occupants. In fact, the same grandmother lived for a year at this address. I recall, that one day, after school, a group of my friends and I decided to go to the pictures. The cinema in question, was The Princess in Hemel Hempstead. I was now older and in my teens. At this time there was a popular pianist called Russ Conway. Two of his records were played during the interval. I remember one was TRAMPOLINA. The projection of this film kept going wrong. And so up kept coming Russ Conway. After some time, this got quite entertaining. And hearing Russ Conway playing in between quick projections of TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE, proved hilarious. But something else was happening in the audience where I was sitting.
Whether my friends noticed anything, I do not know. But I certainly did. We were sitting on the right hand side of the auditorium and were possibly in the second row from the front. At a particular point, an attractive young lady, about my age, garbed casually in jeans and a long sleeved top came in, and sat in the row in front. After some time, she quickly laughed at something. Was it my imagination? But although other people laughed, her one seemed to be briefly trying to draw attention to herself. Furthermore, she did not sit as everyone else was sitting in their seats. She was sitting casually, and somehow, slightly at diagonal angle of which, if she wanted to, she could, with ease, divert her attention from the screen, to someone in our group. In fact, it could be me. No. It must be my imagination. Or was it? Shortly after, something amusing happened, and she laughed again. But this time there was a difference. She did look around. Both our eyes met. It was not my imagination then. Now I heard about things happening like this in films that were given 'X' certificates. The certificate which meant that people like me were not allowed in the cinema to see. We were both young and in our teens. We were both of the opposite sex. Oh! Dear! If this was a scene from something on television, young children would be told by their parents to go to bed. I remember my parents giving me a talk about not taking sweets from strangers, but nothing about a potential seduction in the Princess Cinema whilst watching TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE; and Russ Conway thrown in. Did a torrid romance develope? No. Why? Because while all this was going on, my grandmother and one of her great grand children, who both lived in the other part of my house, had entered the cinema and sat a few rows behind mine. Curses! Foiled again!
I wonder what happened to that girl? One thing I am sure of. If we ever get a lady member who has made a jungle film with incidental music by Russ Conway, then I shall know it was her.
I'll have to finish now. The computer in the library has overheated as a result of this blog.
Useless information: The computer has started to cool down. So I shall give some more useless information. Gordon Scott, who acted as Tarzan in this film, had to be rescued by the film crew from a python. They thought he was doing a good piece of acting until they saw his face going a strange shade of purple. No wonder the film was called TARZAN'S FIGHT FOR LIFE!
Further useless information: Jane was portrayed by Eve Brent.