This Is Where I Came In…
I said this to my press agent Lynsey recently and she asked me what I meant. I explained that it referred to double-billed movies. A lot of people have expressed surprise that that films were ever shown in double bills. Indeed they were, right across the nation, remember, older peeps?
As we’re prepping the launch of my film memoir ‘Film Freak’ on April 10th, I’ve thought about this a lot lately.
In fact, the only single film performances were in the flagship cinemas of the West End, and even in the 1970s these came with large colourful brochures like expensive theatre programmes – you still sometimes find them at memorabilia fairs.
The oddest thing about double bills was that it was very common to enter halfway through a movie, watch the second half, then see the second feature, then stay for the first half of the first – and if you liked it a lot, perhaps remain right through to the end.
If you stay in the Maldives there are lots of terrific activities to do, and they’re different every day. Then, if you stay a few hours longer than a week, you find your smiling hotel manager greeting the new arrivals with the same chat you thought personal to you, and the whole process begins again, like a movie show.
As you get older, you realise that many things are rostered for strict rotation. Theatre repertoires come around and around, and I can’t help feeling I’ve seen the majority – I certainly never need to see another production of ‘Private Lives’ again, no matter how cutting edge it is. Movies quickly start to repeat themselves at some point, too, and you discover that Christopher Booker’s volume ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ is horribly true.
Of course, this is much to do with reaching a certain age – hardly anything seems fresh and new, or wholly original, in the way that, say, ‘Monty Python’ felt when I was a kid. Now ‘A Chorus Line’ is back on in a production seemingly preserved in aspic (it can’t be touched, like ‘West Side Story’, apparently). ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the new Mills & Boone. ‘Batman’ is the new ‘Batman’.
A magazine article pointed to the shoe shop ‘R.Soles’ in the King’s Road, saying it was its rude name was ‘a brave two-fingered wave at the Chelsea tractor brigade’ – but of course it’s not; it’s been there since the 1960s, but the person writing the piece wasn’t old enough or bothered enough to know.
Recently, watching an old comedy, ‘Too Many Crooks’, with Sid James and Terry-Thomas, I realised it was the original version of ‘Ruthless People’, but with much better dialogue. Still, there are pleasures to be had in seeing old wine in new bottles. And occasionally something so original comes along, like ‘The Artist’ or ‘Wolf Hall’, that you feel refreshed. Genine originals, anyone?