Movies for me are all about nostalgia, something which is often missing from the large multiplexes we often frequent today. But, if you know where to look, there are some timeless gems which hark back to the golden age of cinema.
My love affair with movies started many years ago when I was taken by my parents to see The Jungle Book at the George Cinema just outside Glasgow. As much as I loved the technicolour of the movie and was mesmerised by the talking animals, I still hid under my seat and cried when Shere Khan came on the screen – well, I was only three!
From then on I was hooked and a Saturday afternoon treat was a visit to the movies with my gran. Not for her the local cinema, which although not quite a multiplex, was a charmless, commercial prospect. Instead we would travel to the other side of Glasgow to the Glasgow Film Theatre, or the GFT as it is more commonly known. The large velvet banquettes were reminiscent of when the cinema first opened, as its predecessor the Cosmo, in 1934. They still have seats that fit two, just in case you fancy snuggling up to your fellow movie goer. And to keep the authenticity of old fashioned cinema going, it showed classic movies as well as mainstream releases, as it still does to this day.
As an aside, and reinforcing my love of the GFT and classic movies, my husband took me there on our first date in 1997 to see It’s a wonderful life. And to this day I never let him forget that he cried and I didn’t.
Imagine then, my delight when I arrived in Melbourne and discovered The Astor Theatre in St Kilda, which shows classic movie doubles and arthouse offerings, shunning the latest blockbusters. Built in the 1930s, The Astor has retained all its art deco charm and you can choose to sit in the stalls, or up in the dress circle, with both options offering the comfiest overstuffed chairs you’ve ever watched a movie from.
Another similar offering is the Rivoli Cinemas in Camberwell, although this is now in the hands of a large movie distributor. Thanks to preservation orders, much of the art deco charm has been retained and it makes for a pleasant environment in which to enjoy a movie.
Throughout Australia there are a few of these classic cinemas which have managed to retain their charm. Which is your favourite? Is there a cinema you visited as a child or courting teenager which still shows your favourite movies? Why not let us know.