Same Seat for Ten Years
This cinema on a warm summer afternoon was nearly
three-quarters full. That is, in proportion to its size, there were
more people here than in the Playhouse.
"They come here like they go to church," Mr Sowerby told me,
"regularly, once or twice a week. Some of them have their own
particular seats, and if they can't get them very often come in later.
I know one or two who have been coming here for ten years to exactly
the same seat - the same day and practically at the same time."
This is, I believe, the only cinema in Glasgow which gives a
performance at ten in the morning. This is to suit the night-shift men.
Perhaps the strangest thing of all about the Black Cat is that it is
owned by an Oxford undergraduate, Angus Pickard, whose pride it is, and
who goes to infinite pains to secure the best of the old silents - "Way
Down East," "Seventh Heaven," "What Price Glory" and other old classics.
The intimate atmosphere, its very strong individuality, I feel, is the
reason for the persistence of the Black Cat Picture House in the face
of big sound-equipped rivals in the same neighbourhood.
How strong was this feeling of individuality I only realised when I
came back down again to the main streets of Glasgow. Down Renfield
Street and Sauchiehall Street, Cranston's
, the Regent
, La Scala
seemed to possess not one grain of originality among
them. They all seemed pale imitations of Green's Playhouse, and in
other ways seemed to make it a point of resembling one another as far
It was at the New Savoy and the Picture House that I first ran up
against the problem of British films. "Canaries Sometimes Sing" was
showing at the New Savoy, and "Bed and Breakfast" at the Picture House.
The fact that these were British pictures was not advertised, nor were
the displays advertising these pictures exactly glaring. I found poor
houses in both cinemas.
"Nobody liking your pictures?" I asked an attendant.
"It's a sair thing," said Mac, "but they wullna' tak' to British
pictures. if the obsairve the wee word 'British' on yon door they're
A Very High Circuit Official (I can't give his name, but he gets ten
thousand a year) told me that I should find British pictures popular in
the Provinces, because the American accent was practically
unintelligible to some English audiences. But in Scotland, where the
Sassenach twang is as offensive to the Scot as American, American
pictures are far more popular. The reason being, if we've got the
listen to anything but Gaelic let it be in American pictures where the
story at least has punch.