From Picture House Managers to King Solomon’s Mines and The Halls of Montezuma!
This week I have been finding out about the second manager of the Picture House, Mr Duncan Sinclair. Born near Colintraive in Cowal Duncan Sinclair came to Campbeltown after WW1 in connection with his training role with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders after serving in the regiment as a Territorial before the war and in the 8th Battalion during the war. Amongst his many other roles both paid and voluntary Mr Sinclair was manager of the Picture House for 19 years until his death in 1952.
I had previously done some research on the first manager of the Picture House Mr George F Roger, whose name featured prominently in the very first of the Picture House adverts to appear in the Campbeltown Courier. Mr Roger came from the Dundee area and was a photographer both before and during his time as Picture House manager. His father was a professional photographer with a studio in Dundee and George Roger himself had a professional studio in Greenock then a succession of studios in Campbeltown and the shop next to the Picture House. Both very handy for his home in Royal Avenue Mansions. George F. Roger invested in fifty shares in the Picture House.
To conclude my research into the life of Duncan Sinclair and to enable me to write his biography I went to the library to read his obituary in the Campbeltown Courier. Usually when we do research in the library we call upon the always very helpful librarians to let us look through the microfilmed versions of the newspapers. On this occasion, and on one other, the newspapers in question were not on microfilm but bound in huge hardback books big enough to hold the copies of broadsheet newspapers for two years. I very much enjoyed turning the pages of the original editions of the newspapers and it took several minutes longer than necessary to reach the article I was looking for as I kept stopping to read little bits of this and that fascinating article or headline I saw along the way.
Research objective complete it occurred to me that I had an opportunity to have a look at what films people had been watching in 1952, so I had a look through some editions and took a few quick photos of the adverts for both the Picture House and for the Rex. I didn’t take the time to set up and get perfect shots, so some look a little less than squared up. My first impression was that the adverts were similar in the main but that the Rex listed their supporting films and included a lot more separate adverts featuring photos of the major stars of the day.
Photo or graphical adverts were rare for the Picture House, but on the 10th of April 1952 there was a photo advert for the Picture House too showing the male lead Stewart Granger who played Alan Quartermain in the major film King Solomon’s Mines. The female lead was Deborah Kerr.
Two Pictures you MUST see !!
In King Solomon’s Mines, based on the book by H. Rider Haggard, adventurer Allan Quartermain leads an expedition into uncharted African territory in an attempt to locate an explorer who went missing during his search for the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon. The film won two Oscars and was nominated for a third.
The other must see was I’d Climb the Highest Mountain a simple story, based on Corra Harris’ biographical book, of a Methodist minister, called to a north-Georgia mountain-community in 1910 who, with his gently-bred new bride, meets the problems and crises of his circuit congregation fearlessly and honestly. The big star name in this top six of the year movie was Susan Hayward and her male co-star William Lundigan (not a name I recognised).
… and the films were now in…
The 1952 adverts listed quite a number of films for any one week and they had all the admission prices listed along the bottom.
|Rex Prices:||Picture House Prices:|
|Front Stalls 1/6||Front area 1/6, children 7d|
|Back stalls 2/1||Back area 2/1, children 1/-|
|Balcony 2/7||Balcony 2/7, children 1/6|
|(afternoon: stalls 1/6 and balcony 2/1)|
That set me thinking about pre-decimal currency and comparative prices.
What could you buy back in 1952 for one pound?
How about 15 pints of beer, or 14 fish suppers!
|1950s Prices (Approx.)|
|Average Weekly Wage|
|Gallon of Petrol (4.5 litres)|
(4 shillings and sixpence)
(would be rounded up to 23p)
|A loaf of bread|
|A pint of milk|
|6 eggs (a half dozen)|
… and finally, back to the movies !
For the weeks that I looked at in the Courier, here are two lists of movies. One for each Cinema.
Have you seen any of the movies?
How many films in the lists have you even heard of?
|Green’s REX Cinema||PICTURE HOUSE|
|Tea for Two||Three Little Girls in Blue|
|Singing Guns||Treasure Island|
|Harbour of Missing Men||Hunt the Man Down|
|I Killed Geronimo||Riders of the Range|
|Paul Tekple’s Triumph||Pagan Love Song|
|The Lavender Hill Mob|
|Mr Denning Drives North||Halls of Montezuma|
|Riders of the Dusk||North West Passage|
|Dallas||he Bride Goes Wild|
|The Great Jewel Robber|
|The Light Fantastic|
|Blue Grass of Kentucky||King Solomon’s Mines|
|Fathers Wild Game||I’d Climb the Highest Mountain|
|An Ideal Husband||Whirlpool|
|Thunder in the East|
|Rimfire||On the Riviera|
|A Case for PC 49||Dixie|
|Bomba and the Hidden City||Tarzan and the Jungle Queen|
|Bowery Battalion||Red Mountain|
|Goodbye My Fancy||Call Me Mister|
|The Armchair Detective||The Frogmen|
|Young Wives Tale|
|Call of the Klondike|
|Another Man’s Poison||Home Town Story|
|Curley||The Tall Target|
|Canyon Pass||Strictly Dishonourable|
|I Was a Communist for the FBI||The Law and the Lady|
|Ten Tall Men|
|Lorna Doone||Bird of Paradise|
|The Big Gusher||As Young As You Feel|
|Sugerfoot||Mr Belvedere Rings the Bell|
|The Dead End Kids on Dress Parade|
|Strangers on a Train|
|Lost Continent||Annie Get Your Gun|
|Whispering Smith Hits London||The Valley of Decision|
|Mask of the Avenger||Lone Star|
|The Harlem Globetrotters|
|Cinema Let for the Gaelic Mod||Decision Before Dawn|
|The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady||The Sword of Monte Cristo|
|The Stooge||No Highway|
|Lightning Strikes Twice|
|The Light Touch|
|Lady Godiva Rides Again||Something to Live For|
|Hong Kong||Horse Feathers|
|The Adventures of Robin Hood||The Story of Dr Wassell|
|The Adventures of Robin Hood||The Accused|
|Westward the Women||The Secret of Convict Lake|
|The Barefoot Mailman||The Guy Who Came Back|
|Girls Never Tell||People Will Talk|
|Abroad with Two Yanks|
|Appointment with Venus||The Company She Keeps|
|Port of New York||Wyoming Mail|
|Warpath||Meet Me After the Show|
|Captain Horatio Hornblower RN|
|Target Unknown||My Favourite Spy|
|Blackout||The Forest Rangers|
|Highway 301||A Place in the Sun|
|An Angel from Texas|
|The Strange Door||Kansas Raiders|
|You Never Know||The Fat Man|
|Wonder Man||Navy Bound|
|Dumbo||Over the Border|
|Home at Seven||Rommel Desert Fox|
|Man of Bronze||The Greatest Show on Earth|
|The San Francisco Story|
|Cave of Outlaws|
|No Room for the Groom|
|Angels One Five|
|Crazy Over Horses|
1.) ‘Rex Cinema- Man of bronze, Burt Lancaster’, (10th December 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
2.) ‘Rex Cinema – Showboat’, (10th July 1952 Courier 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
3.) ‘Rex Cinema – Captain Horatio Hornblower, Gregory Peck’, (19th June 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
4.) ‘Rex Cinema – The Stooge, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’, (22nd May 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
5.) ‘Picture House – King Solomon’s Mines, Stewart Granger’, ’ (10th April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
6.) ‘Picture House – Weekly Listings Advert’, (10th April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
7.) ‘Rex Cinema – Weekly Listings Advert’, (3rd April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)
8.) Picture House – Weekly Listings Advert’, (3rd April 1952, © Campbeltown Courier)