Customer Reviews

1 Review
5 star:
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars Recalling the great days of London cinemagoing, 23 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: London's West End Cinemas (Paperback)
Back in the early and mid 20th century, films were the greatest form of mass entertainment and cinemas sprang up everywhere, from villages to vast cities. London was certainly no exception and, over the years, saw a variety of such places ranging from immense palatial buildings to small newsreel and cartoon theatres.

Expanded from the 1991 publication with more photographs and greater text, London's West End Cinemas - an extremely well researched masterwork by Allen Eyles (with Keith Skone) - the book details well over 100 theatres, stretching beyond the West End, north along Tottenham Court Road (the Paramount) and Marylebone Road (Tussaud's), west along Oxford Street to Marble Arch (Odeon and Pavilion) and south to Victoria (the Biography, claimed as "England's first licensed cinema").

The detailing of the cinemas is presented in chronological order, pre-empted by shorts screened in such locations as music halls and fairgrounds before film was no longer seen as a novelty which led on to the birth of the cinemas. By the 1930s business flourished, with many theatres also adapting to this new form of entertainment. But, within 30 years, as television brought entertainment into the homes, the great days of cinemagoing were drawing to a close. Now, at the time of this book's publication, London's West End cinema empire has virtually disappeared, with the building developers adding to the woe of falling admissions and rising completion from all forms of home entertainment. Currently Leicester Square is the London's cinema centre, with only three large theatres in operation - the Odeon, Empire and Vue West End (formerly the Warner) - although all have seen changes with restructuring and/or multiplexing.

The book not only provides a valuable insight in the history of the cinemas - their creators and architects and anecdotes alongside, often, the film companies and the screening policies of the buildings they controlled. There was also much diversity besides the British and American major productions: the Oxford Street's Academy (expanded to three screens before its demise in 1986) tended to concentrate upon upmarket world cinema while several of the small newsreel and cartoon theatres moved into the more saucier continental fare. Then there was also the Classic chain, an outlet for older films (often screened as double bills, with some programmes changing twice weekly) which now forms a stable part of the home entertainment business. Thankfully London still has the BFI and the Prince Charles offering their eclectic mixes.

London's West End Cinemas will bring back nostalgic memories for many and, personally, particular recollections of Coventry Street's Rialto (which should have been preserved for the purpose it was built, in 1913, as the West End Cinema Theatre) and its near neighbour, the London Pavilion, where programme content didn't always match the grandeur of its Piccadilly Circus location. Labelled as "the haunt of sensation seekers" when operated by United Artists during the 1950s, it was where I first saw Bill Haley in "Rock Around The Clock" and thrilled to the "X" doubling of "The Monster That Challenged The World" and "The Vampire". Sadly such filmmaking has now long gone, just like the cinemas that once flooded London's West End landscape but, at least, here's 208 pages to remind us of its glorious past.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

London's West End Cinemas
London's West End Cinemas by Professor Allen Eyles (Paperback - 3 April 2014)
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews