Time For The Return Of Rep?
Last night I went to posh Holland Park (no M&S sandwiches on the lawns here, it was all French champagne and ciabattas) to see ‘Some Like It Hot’ on the open air screen. Secret Cinema started these events some while back, restaging scenes from films and creating an ambience around the movie you’re watching.
Now many other companies are doing it, some less successfully than others. This one by Nomad Cinema was fun, though, complete with a drag Daphne and Geraldine (no Sugar Kane, sadly – how could you have another Marilyn?), fancy dress and a good period band.
The big surprise was seeing how funny – and fast – the film plays now. Dialogue overlaps and is missed in audience laughter, and the pacing allows for long set-pieces that escalate into hysterics, like the illicit party on the night train, and of course Monroe is a revelation.
It made me think – now that we hardly ever see old black & white films, or even ones from the 80s and early 90s, isn’t it time for the return of rep cinema? Since licensing laws changed you can drink in the auditorium, so it’s easier for the exhibitors to make money, and surely some of the quieter art houses in London, like the Renoir, could turn over one screen to a regularly changing rep double-bill programme?
Perhaps the problem is getting prints. Or finding willing venues – I loved the old Scala, which had modelled itself on LA’s Nu-Art Theater, and still miss it. I dislike the NFT’s auditorium and scholarly attitude, and don’t want my old films to have the precious patina of research tools – I want to enjoy them and laugh – but I’d love to see, say, ‘The Twentieth Century’, ‘Libelled Lady’ or ‘The Palm Beach Story’ on the big screen…