Going to the Movies
Going to the movies, or the pictures as we used to say in England was a rare treat for us.
The first film I was ever taken to see was “Bambi”. To be honest I don’t really remember much of it. I remember “Snow White” better, a year or so later.
My clearest memory of going to the movies in England was of going to see “Mary Poppins” in 1965. We went to the cinema in Romford where we lived. I especially remember this day, not only because of the movie but because of what happened before it. We arrived at the cinema and mum realised that she had forgotten her purse and would have to go home for it. There was a queue waiting to go into the cinema for the next session. Mum decided that she would be quicker on her own and that Naomi and I should stay in the line until she came back. The movies ran continuously so we wouldn’t miss anything. In those days there was always a couple of short films before the feature anyway. I would have been about eight years old at the time, Naomi nearly six and mum did not normally leave us alone like that so it felt odd. However, she did come back fairly quickly and we all enjoyed the movie.
It was only when we came to Australia that we first went to a drive-in movie theatre. We would go with our aunt, uncle and cousins, sometimes mum came along too so we were very crowded in the car. I remember the speakers that you hung on the open car window. You had to remember to remove them before driving off. There was a playground for kids and a kiosk selling drinks and snacks. We found it odd to see kids playing and running around in their pajamas. Mum did not approve of it, she thought they would get dirty in the playground and then either go to bed in dirty night clothes or have to change into another set. We all went to the movies fully dressed. I can never get used to seeing people out and about in their pajamas to this day but that is another story. The movies we were taken to see were family friendly films, mostly Disney, I think. I remember “Monkeys Go Home”, “The Happiest Millionaire” and “Half A Sixpence” as well.
There were two drive ins we normally went to. One was near where we lived and the other was in a nearby suburb. Neither exist today. In fact, I don’t know if there are any drive-in theatres left around Adelaide today. There used to be several. I visited most of them as I got older.
There was no cinema in our town until I was well into high school so we had to go to the city to see movies. Adelaide had several nice cinemas in the CBD. Wests in Hindley Street was the one where most of the disaster movies of the 1970s were screened. It had surround sound. There was also the Metro, the Hindley Cinema complex built in the 70s which had four cinemas and a striking purple exterior and further up the road was the Fair Lady which was always a favourite of mine. Down in Rundle Street were four more cinemas, the Sturt, the Regent, the Paris which later became Regent 2 and another Regent opened in the 70s. Also in the CBD were the Academy Cinemas in Hindmarsh Square and the Warner in King William Street where I remember seeing several films.
Of course, we enjoyed snacks at the movies, popcorn, although not such big buckets as I see people eating on TV. Choc top ice creams, something you only got at the movies or the traditional sweets for the movies, Fantales, which had movie trivia on the wrappers or Jaffas, to be rolled down the aisle (I never did that, waste of a good lolly.)