Let’s Go to the Movies!


I’m talking to some nice people who are researching 1960s cinema (etc).

I will tell you more but why don’t you tell me some stuff. You were around then.

Where did you watch? What did you see? What stays in the memory?


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

36 thoughts on “Let’s Go to the Movies!

  1. I was at Somers Road Fire Station in the sixties, We were called to Festing Road Odeon,which was showing “The Graduate”. A caller said a bomb had been left in the building as a protest because of the frontal nudity scene. (If they’re still alive,they must have no teeth left to gnash!) The cinema was evacuated and searched. Nothing was found . At another Odeon(Northe End I saw the first James Bond film. People were queuing round the corner into Laburnam Grove. In those days we all took our new girlfriends to the flicks.
    Going to “the pictures” was an event then. Happy days!

  2. Graduate, went to see this expecting more than we saw!

    2001, left me cold, just a little too far out for me at that age!

    Time Machine, love this film then and still today! always did like Wells’ stories, so good that many of them were filmed.

    In 1968 I went to London to see the Crickets at the Whiskey a go go. I got there too early and found a cinema, and went in without knowing too much about the film. I was enthralled and glued to it! But the final scene in the beach confirmed my liking of the film. Later version were very tame compared, but then in recent years the pre-quels have reclaimed my ineterest. That 1968 film was,
    Planet of the apes.

  3. Early 60s Steve Reeves movies and the Carry On films were a regular thing with me, plus anything with special effects by Ray Harryhausen Jason & the Argonauts etc Jouney to the Centre of the Earth, Bodysnatchers, They Came from Outer Space, etc after that came the Beatles films and any Sci Fi that was about then onto more colt stuff. Watched a lot of International films at the Art College. Italian and French mostly.

  4. The Graduate for me too, but is no-one admitting to watching The Sound of Music? I definitely saw The Lion in Winter at the cinema, and, I think, Women in Love. Jules et Jim and Elvira Madigan date from the sixties but I’m not sure when I first watched them. A shame you’re only asking about the 60s. I still have a news writing book from infant school in which I mention going to the Essoldo to see The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, but that was probably 1958.

    • !950s are fine too – even maybe the early 1970s. Thanks sis! I have a diary from 1966 which I’ve been checking so I know the date when you all went to see the Sound of Music. Should I be proud or sad to claim that I’ve still never seen it (possibly the biggest grossing movie of the decade?)

  5. I remember seeing most of the early Rock and Roll films at the Essoldo cinema bransbury park. Cliff Richard in “Expresso Bongo” at the Gaumont cinema top of Cosham high street. Years later seeing “Woodstock” at the Essoldo bottom of Cosham high street. Went to see “The Cockleshell Heroes” at the Gaumont Northend. They had one of the kayaks on show in the entrance. Never did get to go to the Palace Continental probably due to the stories we were told of the dodgy characters that frequented the place as kids. One of my fondest memories is seeing the Jimi Hendrix story at the Gaumont Northend in the early 70s. Not forgetting Rasputin the Mad “MONK” at a long gone and I can’t the remember the the name of, cinema in Commercial road in the mid 60s.

    • That was the Classic in Commercial Road, very close and same side as the entrance to Cascades, it was possibly the only cinema I never got round to visiting. As I then lived off Albert Road, Southsea, I had the choice of the Essoldo in Albert Road, the Odeon (corner of Festing Road), the Gaiety was directly opposite.
      Going to the “pictures” was the highlight/s of my week and what value for money !! A main, support or B film, cartoons or those dreadful black and white films about coal mines or heavy industry “oop North”, they were soooooo boring !!
      Anyone remember those crime films told by Edgar Lustgarten, all true stories adapted for the screen, superb !!
      Incidently Malc, are you sure that was the Gaumont top of Cosham High Street ? As you quite rightly said, the Essoldo was at the bottom by the railway crossing and the Odeon was at the very top on the right hand side (identical Art Deco architecture as the Odeon in Southsea) ? The only 2 Gaumonts I remember were Bradford Junction (now a mosque) and in between Kingston Crescent and North End Junction. I saw Psycho there, the only time I got through 20 fags (of the cigarette kind) in one sitting….scary or what ??

      • Yes Rod you’re right it was the Odeon, when I was a kid living at Paulsgrove used to go there for the Saturday morning club.

  6. If early 70s is of interest, my best memories are of Chabrol’s Le Boucher with Stephane Audran, and Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. I distinctly remember a cinema next to a Greek restaurant on Oxford Road, Manchester, and we also used to go to one in Hulme. If Manchester cinemas of that period are of interest I can come up with more information, thanks to the Visual Resources Centre at MMU. A digitised version of a film made in 1972 by some of my fellow students is now online and has a shot of a cinema showing Steptoe and Son. I will check my news writing book for more references to the 50s!

  7. But first… 1972 – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Last Tango in Paris. And I’ve just remembered Fellini Satyricon, right at the end of the 60s.

  8. The trailer from my first ever horror film “The Thing That Wouldn’t Die” Saw it when I was 12 at a cinema in County Cork Southern Ireland. They didn’t have any age restrictions in those days.

  9. My news writing book is from 1959. We saw The Inn of the Sixth Happiness at the Victoria Cinema, which I don’t remember, but apparently it was somewhere near Portsmouth Uni Wiltshire Building, and later became a hotel which closed in 1973/4. We went to Tom Thumb at the Essoldo on 27th February (such a remarkable date). In April we saw 5 cartoons at the Classic Cartoon Cinema, but I’m wondering if that was actually the Odeon Southsea. You went to see Shaggy Dog on 13th July, while I was off buying shoes.
    Two memorable films from my childhood not yet mentioned are Lady and the Tramp and Oklahoma (but I have no time for musicals these days). Definitely saw Oklahoma at Southsea Odeon.

  10. We used to go to ‘the pictures’ about three times a week – mostly horror films and those featuring the music we loved. Remember seeing ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ (taken there when I was 8 years old) featuring Gene Vincent, title song by Little Richard at the Gaumont, Bradford Junction, ‘Don’t Knock The Twist’ with Chubby Checker and Gene Chandler (‘Duke of Earl’) and ‘Bristol Stomp’ by The Dovells – both knockouts and ‘Teenage Millionaire’ that had Dion in it – at the same venue.
    ‘Some People’ , ostensibly promoting the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme also had some good music plus motorcycle races, Ray Brooks in donkey jacket and winkle pickers, punch-ups etc – saw this at the Essoldo, Albert Road.
    Another one we loved (again at the Gaumont) was ‘The Boys’ starring Dudley Sutton and Jess Conrad with music by the Shads – a great film and still very watchable today.

  11. Yes, “some people was one of my favourites. Kenneth More was perfectly cast,and it was at atime when, like

    the film’s young ones, we all felt, somehow that we would “make it” in the pop world. In 1964 I took a lovely girl to the cinema just past kingston crescent (the name escapes me). At the time I was practicing Aikido and was interested in Japanese culture. The film was “Onibaba” (the hole). A film noir if ever there was one. the next film was a sleazy film about nudists,which the title hadn’t suggested. What sort of a creep did i look? Luckily,we made it to another date and,51 years later, whenever I look up there she’ll be and whenever she looks up there I’ll be.

  12. Here I go again, I remember seeing “Onibaba”, supposed to be so HOT, it would melt your Eldorado ice cream ! However it was boring in a strange way because you kept hanging on in there waiting for something to happen, it never did There was no background music, just the sound of the wind blowing through the rice fields. I think the only “spicy” thing that happened was a young lady doing unmentionable things against a tree trunk. That created a few jeers from the Teddy Boys in the front row, at least some members of the audience were still awake….

  13. Have to endorse the ‘Onibaba’ comments!

    And it has to be ‘Blow Up’ with a very young Jane Birkin. Later to be referred to by Private Eye (with her husband, Serge Gainsbourg) as Jane Firkin and Serge Forward !!!

  14. Nice one Keith, definitely a 5 star chuckle !!

  15. Curzon Waterlooville for Saturday matinee, (mostly westerns), and the Dambusters, both mid fifties. The Saturday matinées were brought to a holt by my parents during the polio epidemic, cinemas were thought of a a breeding ground. Also at the Curzon, saw what I think was the last film ever shown there, Carry on Sergeant, early sixties?
    Then in 1962 queuing down the side alley of the Cosham Odeon to see Dr No. Saturday night at ‘ the flicks’ was a regular event!

  16. The Victoria was where Merchantile House is now, the Classic in Commercial Road showed mainly cartoons I think. I used to go to Saturday Morning club in the 50s at the Gaumont on Bradford Junction, 6d downstairs & 9d upstairs. always remember the Essoldo in Albert Road near The Kings, they had wide leg room between the seats down there and we were watching a horror movie, The Devil Rides out and there used to be a cat in there which would just wander around, you can imagine watching the horsemen of the apocalypse and the cat brushes passed your legs. Remember seeing The Battle of Britain on the big screen at the Odeon North End as well. Didn’t St Cliff appear at the Troxy in Fratton Road?
    The cinemas used to be real art deco places with their foyers & stairs, especially the Odeon on the corner of Festing Road, a beautiful interior.

  17. Cliff Richard and the Shadows did indeed appear at the Troxy during the interval, it’s hard to imagine anything like that these days.
    I remember seeing The Robe, an enormous biblical epic at the Troxy, not for any religious reason, just for the action, blood and guts, fights on a huge scale, all luverly stuff !!

  18. Well most of what I saw has been covered already but I also remember seeing Psycho, The Birds, The 39 steps, Vanishing point, On The Beach just to name a few plus all the Cliff movies. Never ever saw an Elvis movie

    • I was fortunate that as a 12 year old my mum took me to see all the Elvis films. I my humble opinion King Creole was the best of the bunch., Listening now was probably my introduction to blues. Just listen to this still fantastic stuff.

  19. I’m with you Malc. King Creole the best of Elvis movies and still stands up. “if you’re looking for trouble …”

  20. Re Rod’s comment above about “The Robe” I seem to recall seeing that twice one time it was actually an official school outing and we had to go and see it. We were bused to the cinema as I recall for an afternoon performance. I bet in these politically correct times they could not do that as there would be an outcry from all the diverse faith groups.

  21. Thinking about all those columns in the Ben Hur Chariot race (another movie from the times) I got to wondering how the “Marshall Amp” mounted on carpet tube co;umps project was coming on at AAA?

  22. Darn fingers…”Columns”

  23. Loved a lot of the films already mentioned especially the Spear and Sandal epics but am surprised no one has mentioned the b&w kichen sink movies such as Room at the Top,Saturday night and Sunday morning, Look Back in Anger which to me at the time were very important in developing my left wing political ideals as well as being superb realistic drama !

  24. Room at the Top, now that was a crackin’ good film ! Laurence Harvey as Joe Lampton, a slimy git he turned out to be, always trying to get his evil way with Julie Christie if my memory serves me right ? Lampton then has a fling with French actress Simone Signoret (right spelling?), he blows her out in favour of Ms Christie and poor old Simone tops herself !
    There was a sequel but can’t remember too much about it.

    • Not Julie Christie ,Rod but Heather Sears
      I think you’ll find JC’s film career started a few years later in The Fast Lady ,a comedy with Stanley Baxter!!!

      • You’re right, it was Heather Sears, why on earth did I say JC ??
        Never mind, it was still a great film ?
        Was it Up the Junction that had Cherry Smash’s “Sing Songs of Love” featured in the jukebox scene ?

  25. What a fabulous set of responses. What strikes me from Mr G’s comment is that while I came to know and love (even teach about) so many of the British ‘Kitchen Sink’/’New Wave’ movies and also the documentaries of the Free Cinema movement (Momma Don’t Allow, Lambeth Boys etc), I doubt whether I saw any of them at the time. I was ten when “Saturday Night & Sunday Morning” came out and maybe first saw it in the 1970s – much the same with all that great Italian stuff or the French New Wave. One I did see on release a few years later was the original “Far From the Maddening Crowd” which was on TV last week – another great movie (and that was Julie Christie)

    • Being of an age with yourself Dave,I was also about 10 or 11 when most of the early kitchen sink films came out which were all of course X rated which was probably why I wanted to see them in the first place!!
      By the time something like A Kind Of Loving came out in1962 I could manage to get into an X,and then saw the earlier ones when re shown at the local flea pit !!!!

  26. I was such a good boy mate! I tell you one from then I love to death (book and film) David Storey’s “This Sporting Life” (Richard Harris & Rachel Roberts) – 1963. Reckoned to be the last of that Kitchen Sink lot before ‘Swinging’ London took over (Alfie, the Knack, Hard Day’s Night etc)

  27. The leather boys. That was another good one. The ace cafe dudley sutton. Mike baldwin. What more could you want? Oh and the gay references.(although g a y still hadn’t been hijacked by the”shirt lifters” as my dad called ’em. Quite controversial at the time(1964i think)

  28. Just like to add a few more that have stayed with me through the years…Midnight Cowboy with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman,Bonnie and Clyde ,Zulu..all with great soundtracks .Saw Yellow Submarine twice in the same week at the Odeon Festing Rd and remember the herbal fragrances floating round the cinema !

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