|Maddy with her very new Baby Brother, 1983|
Odd the way some things impact you.It scarcely seems like yesterday that my eldest was born, today is her thirthieth birthday and she is pregnant with her first child! Am I really that old…. well yes and last night was another “look back at the past” occasion too. Next door to our hotel in Congress Ave, Austin is the 1915 Paramount Theatre. Its a wonderful building, inside is an ornate cosy auditorium built for vaudeville (music hall) still used as a theatre but at present in the middle of its summer season of classic films. Nine dollars buys you a ticket and a couple of dollars more acquires the traditional bucket of plain popcorn. There was quite a crowd of every age for last night’s showing was the wonderfully funny “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” with a cast of household names including cameos from a young looking Benny Hill and Tony Hancock. The real stars are the aeroplanes of course.
For me this was a nostalgic evening; the first time round, in 1965, forms one of my early memories of the gorgeous Granda cinima in Bedford (UK) with its grand staircase and wide 70mm screen (one of the few in the country outside of London I believe). Film-going in the gilt and red splendour of this theatre was a special occasion. Now its sadly demolished but fondly remembered by many Bedfordians.
Much of the film was shot close to the Pinewood studios so many of the aerial scenes provide brief glimpses of the Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire contryside from my childhood. Terry Thomas got his come uppance in Old Warden Tunnel, the scene being filmed shortly after the Bedford to Hitchin line closed (a closure only partially due to the Beeching Axe). A few years later as a teenagers we braved the dark and walked the entire length, 800 or so yards, pushing our bicycles! And the cooling towers of Bedford power station, surely not a 1910 building, are seen clearly as are one of the local brickworks in another aerial shot.
Before the Paramount season finishes I’m sure we’ll treat ourselves to another classic even if it is only the final film of the season “Gone With the Wind”…. no I’m not that old so have never seen it at the pictures!