as I wrote about here, though according to my diary I saw it in Corby) and I saw The Evil Dead, Rocky IV and Karate Kid 2 all at one of the venues shown), the prices are astonishing (I remember a double-bill would cost £2.50 except, I presume, on Mondays and Thursdays) and local friends shared memories of specific venues.
I loved these places and they held a lot of history for me. Dad took me to see my first James Bond film at Corby cinema (as I wrote about here), I saw a lot of great films at Kettering (Dad took me and Claire to Star Wars, Nick & I saw Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which I wrote about in What Gets Left Behind, Dad & I saw ET, the list goes on) and when Bentley’s opened it quickly became a favourite.
Attendance must have been falling (probably not helped by the fleapit nature) but the independents were clearly knackered and on their last legs when the multiplexes arrived and did away with them. Sixfields in Northampton dealt the first blow and the Odeon in Kettering finished the job. I've never been a big fan of the multiplex, I’ll still go obviously but to me they're sterile places, more interested in selling food and drinks than anything else. Yes, Kettering Ohio had holes in the ceiling and seats were missing and it was often better to sit down in the dark so you couldn’t see the state of your seat, but it felt real, like a proper cinema, where everyone there cared about the films.
What a time to have lived indeed...
On the bright side, independent cinemas now seem to be making a comeback and we often go to the Errol Flynn in Northampton (Jon & I saw a brace of Hitchcock there, Alison & I watched La La Land and I took Dad to see Dunkirk where the soundtrack almost rattled the speakers off the wall) which is small and comfortable, well run and shows an eclectic range of films.
And yes, I know I sound like a dinosaur.
|I took this picture in 2005, knowing that the building|
would eventually be knocked down and wanting to
have a record of it...
The Savoy had 1,150 seats in the stalls and circle as well as a full stage (the Northampton Repertory Company performed regular seasons between 1949 and 1951) and was taken over by Clifton Cinemas on 25th August 1944. In 1968 the circle was split off to make a smaller (485 seat) cinema called the Studio, with a bingo hall taking over the stalls and stage area. In 1973 the screen was split into two (known as Studio 1 & 2, seating 160 and 140 respectively). After briefly closing in 1986, it re-opened as the independent Ohio and finally closed in 1997 when the Odeon opened.
Bentley’s of Burton Latimer was originally The Electric Palace, which opened in August 1914 with an auditorium that seated 500. It became a Watts Cinema in 1938 but closed in 1960. In 1985, Ashley Wyatt bought the building, renovated it and opened Bentley’s as a 182-seat cinema in January 1986 though it closed the following year. It was re-opened in 1994 by Brian McFarlane (who owned the Ohio) but closed soon after. The venue is now an Italian restaurant.
|You can just see the wording "cinema" on the back of the auditoriums.|
Photograph from the late 80s.
I like to think I sound like a wistfully melancholic dinosaur now...
Cinematreasures.org - Savoy, Kettering
Cinematreasures.org - Forum, Corby
Cinematreasures.org - Bentleys, Burton Latimer