As someone who is known to bang on about the much missed local cinemas of yester-year, I must give a quick 'heads up' to any Essex readers (or anyone further afield who is REALLY keen!) on the Southend Film Festival, which kicks off today (26th April). Yes, for the next 10 days, Southend will once again become a town with multiple screen venues! The Palace Theatre, Southend Library, The Park Inn Hotel (the recently refurbished Palace Hotel where Laurel and Hardy once stayed), Southend Museum, South Essex College, The Beecroft Art Gallery, East 15 Acting School, The Railway Pub and The Sand Bar will all be turning themselves into makeshift cinemas for the event. The Southend Odeon, our only 'proper' cinema is also taking part in the proceedings.
There are dozens of films to go see, and entry is a bargain price of £2 a go... yes, just TWO EARTH POUNDS!! less than the price of a DVD rental. What a great opportunity to see some classics films in the environment that they were designed to be watched in. There's a very varied selection of films on offer, and must be something to suit all tastes. They include:
THE LADYKILLERS, THE ROAD TO MOROCCO, WONDERFUL TOWN, SOUTH PACIFIC, ACROSS THE LAKE, THE COLONY, OIL CITY CONFIDENTIAL, LA ZONA, UP, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, GRAVE TALES, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, CZECH DREAM, MOUNTAIN PATROL, THE BIRDBOOK GHOST HUNT, THE WIZARD OF OZ, KUCH NAA KAHO, SOME LIKE IT HOT, MORRIS: A LIFE WITH BELLS ON, HOME, HAVANA BLUES, IS YOU IS: A LOUIS JORDAN STORY, THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT and MURDER AT THE GALLOP.
There's also some classic British Film Noir: THE GAMBLER AND THE LADY, THE HOUSE, 36 HOURS, WINGS OF DANGER and THE GLASS CAGE.
and how about this all-nighter at the Railway Pub which is FREE to get into:
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, EASY RIDER, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, THE HARDER THEY COME, METROPOLIS, and the iconic ‘Swinging London’ documentary TONITE LET’S ALL MAKE LOVE IN LONDON.
And if that isn't good enough, there's some talks, special guests, exhibitions and local short films to enjoy too. Unsurprisingly, I'm particularly interested in the following two items:
LET’S ALL GO TO THE PICTURES... IN SOUTHEND (Sunday 2nd May, Palace Theatre, £2), which is described in the programme as a "shameless wallow in nostalgia, taking a look at
Southend’s cinemas over the years. Settle back in your seat and enjoy an evening in the company of local cinema historians Chris Izod and David Simpson, together with their very
special guest Ron Stewart. Known as “Uncle Ron” to thousands of children who went along to Saturday morning pictures at the Regal at Rayleigh and the Classic at Westcliff, this legendary cinema manager will look back over a lifetime spent working “at the pictures”. A real treat for anyone who’s ever enjoyed a night in the ‘one and nines’!"
THE ULTIMATE LAUREL & HARDY PICTURE SHOW (Monday 3rd May, Park Inn Hotel, Laurel and Hardy Suite, £2). The programme says of this one "In August 1952, when Laurel and Hardy performed live at the Odeon cinema, they had suites in this hotel. Now, those
suites have been transformed into function rooms. The Ultimate Laurel & Hardy Picture Show will illustrate their extensive careers, with special reference to their visit to Southend. The show will run approximately 90 minutes, and will culminate with a screening of the classic short Helpmates.
Amazing stuff! I'm delighted that something of this quality is being done in my hometown, designed for real lovers of cinema and not all about trying to rip off the punters too. It sounds like a real treat, and I certainly hope to get along to a few bits (babysitter permitting!).
You can find out more information on the official website here
And you can download the programme detailing all the events here
Jeff Hawke Jnr
22 hours ago