Filmgoing by Air
"In this amusement business the public demands progressive change. From
silent to talking pictures, from black-and-white to colour photography,
from small downtown 300-seaters to 4,000 seaters. Car parks, cafes,
dance halls, these things will all become part and parcel of the cinema
of the future.
My new cinema at Ayr, besides having a car park, will
have a flat roof on which gyroplanes may land. It is my belief that the
cinema is definitely establishing itself as the centre of social life
in every town in England.
Green's Playhouse, Ayr
I left the Great Green Man confident in the future of the big super
cinema; yet a few minutes more of Glasgow showed me that the small
wayside movie house, with its old-fashioned projectors, hard seats and
primitive ventilation is going to be a stubborn little animal to uproot
from the public's affection.
Perhaps the strongest argument against the bigger cinemas is the Black
Cat Picture House, which I stumbled across in Parkhead, a slum area of
A tiny building. There is a black cat painted on the wall above the
entrance. A solitary lamp over the doorway illuminates one word,
In a miniature vestibule there was a box-office, but no list of prices.
"How much?" I asked. The girl looked surprised. "Threepence," she said,
"for any seat anywhere. You must be a stranger here."
Black Cat Picture House
A curtain divided the foyer from the auditorium - a plain room with
brick walls tarred over and flickering gas jets as lights. At the
entrance a man was shaking hands with an old lady. How was Tom? Was his
arm really broken? Later on I talked to this man. He is Mr Sowerby, the
manager; he knows everyone who comes to his cinema, can tell you the
life history of most of them, and shakes hands with each person as they
It was like jumping back five years of a lifetime to watch 'The Girl of
the Night' unwind its eight reels in complete silence, the only
accompaniment being the whir of the projection motors from the back. At
the six-thirty performance, however, I learnt there is music - a
panatrope accompaniment by Mrs Sowerby.