Thursday, January 12, 2012
1974: A glittering end
While we're talking about cinema, who remembers their first James Bond experience?
It was 1974. There were a few cinemas in the surrounding towns, but no multplexes or anything of that nature. In Southampton we had the ABC, which used to have a balcony and do proper food and more often than not seemed to be showing The Slipper & The Rose. There was the Classic, where I saw my first ever film The Jungle Book in 1968 (so I'm told), the Atherley, which was near my grandma and had steps up where we saw The Sword In The Stone, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins, among others and the daddy of them all: The Gaumont.
This behemoth seemed huge and doubled as a music venue. Over the years I saw the likes of Duran Duran, The Human League, Madness, Joan Armatrading and Rik Mayall and Ben Elton there. Today it's the Mayflower Theatre and it's where they do panto and ghaslty regional productions of No No Nanette starring Anne Charleston, Patti Boulaye and Peter Polycarpou or Bonnie Langford, Sonia and Gina Yashere doing The Vagina Monologues.
I think the cinema bit died out when a lot them did in the late Seventies, but for the full cinema experience there was nothing like The Gaumont.
We loved James Bond, what we'd seen of it. The pre-opening credit high drama set piece, not to mention those opening credits themselves with nude women diving off gun barrells and silky silhouettes of their breasts. That was a racy as it got. Which made it a bit of a problem taking grandma along.
A lifelong prude who thought the word bloody was the nadir of bad language and had no idea her own brother was gay, despite holidays in Morocco, a house in Brighton that he shared with a long-standing partner and a prediliction for Ethel Merman. When she watched the Naked Civil Servant with my other grandma while they were on babysitting duty at ours one time, she had to have the whole concept of homosexuality expalined to her. She simply had no idea such a thing existed. She was that naive, and easily shockable.
So there was much shuffling and twitching from the opening credits onwards, with lots of distracing comments aired, like 'isn't that the Yangtzee River?'. My dad was eye-rolling for Britain.
But at least we were in. The queue went around the cinema almost twice. There was no pre-booking in those days, you just had to suck it and see. We all remember queueing around the block. When was the last time you had to do it. We saw all sort of friends and neighbours in the line, all trying their luck.
Though I now know it not to be Bond's finest hour, it was enormous fun. I've been to everyone single one since. I'm a fan. I think I like Roger Moore best. I'm surprised however, that Lulu's theme tune wasn't a hit at all. I remember hearing it all the time, but it cleary never took. Anyone know why?