Tag Archives: Zorro

Scrap Book Project – Rugby Granada Cinema and Saturday Morning Pictures

Granada Cinema Boarded Up

For a couple of years or so in the early 1960s I went every weekend with my pals, Tony Gibbard and David Newman, to the ‘Flicks’ at the Granada Cinema at the bottom of North Street in Rugby opposite the posh new Council offices to the Saturday morning pictures.

What a fleapit it was.  It was an old brick building built in 1933 and originally it was called the Plaza but later in 1946 changed its name to the Granada in the same way as so many others as they borrowed continental place names such as Alhambra, Rialto and Colosseum to make them sound more exciting.  Later car manufacturers did exactly the same of course and we had the Corsair and the Cortina, Toledo and the Dolomite and the Ibiza and the Cordoba.

After it closed as a cinema it became a bingo hall – what a tragedy- and late in 2011 it was demolished to make way for a new development.

Every Saturday morning we would get the crimson Midland Red R66 bus, which left from the top of the road, into town and our main objective was to get to the cinema early in order to get a seat in the front row of the balcony if we could. We weren’t allowed through the front door because of the damage we could potentially do there to the fixtures and fittings but had to queue down the side of the building and were admitted through one of the exits at the back.  It cost sixpence (two and a half new pence) to get in and the queue was always long even before the show opened and the big boys would come along later and more often than not push in the front of the queue.

Inside the cinema was dark and smelt of stale cigarette smoke with seats covered in a sort of maroon velveteen.  Unlike real velvet, however, this material was not very pleasant and for boys wearing short trousers it scratched and made legs itch, which made it impossible to sit still and I am sure that it was the same for girls in their little skirts.

The noise levels inside were unbelievable.  About three hundred children aged between five and thirteen would scream, whistle, shout and boo at any and every opportunity.  To try and keep some sort of order the Manager had a cunning plan, which was to give out silver shillings to children who were sitting still and behaving themselves.  Throughout the show, cinema staff would pass through the building and randomly hand out the coins to kids who were trying desperately to behave.  Once you had got the shilling of course you could do pretty much behave as badly as you liked and once they had all been given out it was absolute bedlam!

Cinema Interior

The show began with a young man called Christopher King on an organ that would rise out of the stage floor accompanied by the ‘Dam Buster’s March‘, like a poor man’s Reginald Dixon show, and there would be ten minutes or so of community singing.  Next came the birthday spot and paid up members of the Rugby Grenadiers Club whose birthday it was this week were invited up onto the stage to receive a present.  After the present came the ritual humiliation of ‘Happy Birthday to You’, that was normally sung by kids in the auditorium with all sorts of unsuitable for print alternative lyrics.

There were always cartoons to get things started and then there were usually about three features each week.  A serial (to make sure you came back next week), a short comedy (Laurel & Hardy was always my favourite), and a feature film.  This was usually a western that had the good cowboys in white hats and smart clothes and the bad guys in black hats and with unshaven faces and who always looked untidy.   The camera would pan from the good guys to the bad guys constantly to cheers for the white hats and boos for the black hats.  In these films no-one’s gun ever ran out of bullets but surprisingly the good guys never seemed to get seriously injured.  Bad guys fell over clutching a fatal wound, but there was never any blood and the good guys always got winged in the arm without causing any real damage.

Excuse me digressing here for a while but this was completely unrealistic of course.  Six shooters in the old west were notoriously unreliable and if someone was unfortunate to take a bullet this would have done the most horrendous damage to flesh, muscle, sinews and important internal organs.  Bullets, or slugs, were made of soft lead and of relatively slow trajectory so if they entered the body they would have bounced about doing unimaginably painful damage and if shot it is completely unlikely that anyone would have shrugged it off as a flesh wound and carried on fighting as they did in these films.

If there wasn’t a western then quite often there would be a sci-fi feature and this would be something like ‘The Creature from the dark side of the Moon’.  The special effects left a lot to be desired and the aliens were always ugly creatures that were always after our women, which thinking about it now is a bit improbable.  A scaly black lizard creature is probably more inclined to have the hots for another scaly black lizard creature back home on Mars or wherever else it came from and would be more inclined to run off with an iguana rather than an earth female.  Like cowboys the space heroes were dressed in white, often with goldfish bowls over their heads.  The aliens usually wore black and had ingenious secret ray guns.  As with the westerns we cheered at the whites and booed at the blacks.

If there was a period epic then this would be something like Robin Hood, William Tell, Richard the Lion Heart or my all time favourite, Zorro.  Zorro, which is Spanish for Fox, and a by-word for cunning and deviousness, was the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega a nobleman and master swordsman living in nineteenth century California. He defended the people against tyrannical governors and other villains and not only was he much too cunning and clever for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delighted in publicly humiliating them while riding on his horse, a jet black stallion called Tornado.

Zorro was unusual because he was dressed all in black with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed Andalusian hat, and a black cowl mask that covered his eyes. His favourite weapon was a rapier sword which he used to leave his distinctive mark, a large ‘Z’ made with three quick slashes. It was strange for a hero to be in black, so for Zorro we had to remember to cheer for the blacks and boo and hiss at the Mexican soldiers who were dressed in white.

For the staff this must have been the worst day of the week, I bet sickness levels were high on a Saturday morning.  This must have been a bit like trying to deal with a prison riot.  When the films reached the exciting bits we would flip our seats up and sit on the edge and kick furiously with our heels on the seat bottom and make a hell of a din while we reduced the plywood base to splinters.  The manager didn’t like this of course and would frequently stop the film and appear on stage to chastise us.  This was usually met with a hail of missiles that were lobbed at the stage.  The cleaning up afterwards bill must have been huge.

I stopped going to Saturday Morning pictures about 1966 and the Granada cinema closed down about ten years later.  I’m guessing it must have been 1976 because I think that the last film shown there was the Towering Inferno, which opened in January of that year.   The Granada cinema closed because of dwindling audiences but predictably the last film was a sell-out all week as people of the town flocked to the cinema for the very last time in a nostalgic tsunami  before its conversion to a bingo hall.

Toledo Steel, Zorro and the Three Musketeers

Toledo has always been one of the most important cities in Spain and for many years it contested the status of capital with nearby Madrid and was in fact the principal city until 1560.  But Madrid gradually came to prominence under the Hapsburg Monarchy and Phillip II moved his court there and made it his capital in 1561.  Toledo compensated for this by reinventing itself as the principal religious city in the country and today remains the seat of the Primate of all Spain.

After lunch we walked to the Cathedral and paid the entrance fee of €7, which turned out to be excellent value compared to the €2 to get into the church in Belmonte.  It is one of the biggest cathedrals in the world and the interior is not at all austere as some cathedrals can be.  Slightly annoying was the fact that for those who didn’t want to pay the admission charge they could enter by a side door and although they couldn’t walk around freely and see all of the internal rooms and the especially impressive choir area, they could certainly see and appreciate the magnificent structure for free.

Outside the Cathedral we found a tourist information office and now we had a map the city was suddenly much easier to negotiate.  In the past Toledo had changed hands many times and it was renowned for its diversity and religious toleration and we visited a synagogue with, unusually for a synagogue, free admission and then after walking through a warren of mazy streets came out on the other side overlooking the modern town to the north.  Every available square metre of this rocky outcrop has been built upon and the buildings are heaped together in a random and haphazard way with cobbled lanes revealing new delights at every twist and turn.  We negotiated the narrow confusing streets and the surprises back towards the Plaza Zocodover and as we did so passed through an area of artisan’s workshops where metal workers were making swords and knives and displaying them in the windows.

Traditionally Toledo is famous for its production of steel and especially of swords and the city is still a centre for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements.  For soldiers and adventurers a sword made of Toledo steel was a must have item because the quality of the steel and the skill of the blacksmiths combined to make an exceptionally strong and perfect lethal weapon.  The Three Musketeers had Toledo steel swords and so did Don Diego de la Vega who was more famously known as Zorro, who first appeared on 6th August 1919.

The manufacturing process was a carefully guarded secret and to make such an exceptional weapon they had to select the very best raw materials and then follow a complicated technical process to achieve the right balance between hard and soft steel forged at a temperature of 1454º Fahrenheit for exactly the right length of time and followed by the critical cooling and shaping process.  So complicated was this whole procedure and so perfect was the finished weapon that to achieve this level of precision a master craftsman would typically only be able to make two or three blades in a year.  No wonder they were expensive!

We had spent nearly four hours in Toledo but that wasn’t nearly enough time to appreciate fully the medieval magnificence of the place and in truth we had given ourselves too much to do in one day and with still a long way to go to reach our final destination for the day and we had to leave before we were ready and before we had seen everything we wanted to see.  On reflection our itinerary should have included a night in Toledo to give us more time but that wasn’t an option now because we had a hotel waiting for us in Ávila.

Rugby Granada Cinema and Saturday Morning Pictures

 Photo Credit – Paul Bland

For a couple of years or so in the early 1960s I went every weekend with some pals to the ‘Flicks’ at the Granada Cinema at the bottom of North Street in Rugby opposite the posh new Council offices to the Saturday morning pictures.

What a fleapit it was.  It was an old brick building built in 1933 and originally it was called the Plaza but later changed its name in 1946 in the same way as so many others as they borrowed continental place names such as Alhambra, Rialto and Colosseum to make them sound more exciting.  Later car manufacturers did exactly the same and we had the Corsair and the Cortina, Toledo and the Dolomite and the Ibiza and the Cordoba.

After it closed as a cinema it became a bingo hall – what a tragedy- and late in 2011 it was demolished to make way for a new development.

Every Saturday morning we would get the crimson Midland Red R66 bus, which left from the top of the road, into town and our main objective was to get to the cinema early in order to get a seat in the front row of the balcony if we could. We weren’t allowed through the front door because of the damage we could potentially do there to the fixtures and fittings but had to queue down the side of the building and were admitted through one of the exits at the back.  It cost sixpence (two and a half new pence) to get in and the queue was always long even before the show opened and the big boys would come along later and more often than not push in the front of the queue.

Inside the cinema was dark and smelt of stale cigarette smoke with seats covered in a sort of maroon velveteen.  Unlike real velvet, however, this material was not soft and for boys wearing short trousers it made our legs itch, which made it impossible to sit still and I am sure that it was the same for girls in their little skirts.  The noise levels inside were unbelievable.  About three hundred children aged between five and thirteen would scream, whistle, shout and boo at any and every opportunity.  To try and keep some sort of order the Manager had a cunning plan, which was to give out silver shillings to children who were sitting still and behaving themselves.  Throughout the show, cinema staff would pass through the building and randomly hand out the coins to kids who were trying desperately to behave.  Once you had got the shilling of course you could do pretty much behave as badly as you liked and once they had all been given out it was absolute bedlam!

Cinema Interior

The show began with some old chap on an organ that would rise out of the stage floor, like a poor man’s Reginald Dixon show, and there would be ten minutes or so of community singing.  Next came the birthday spot and paid up members of the Rugby Grenadiers Club whose birthday it was this week were invited up onto the stage to receive a present.  After the present came the ritual humiliation of ‘Happy Birthday to You’, that was normally sung by kids in the auditorium with all sorts of unsuitable for print alternative lyrics.

There were always cartoons to get things started and then there were usually about three features each week.  A serial (to make sure you came back next week), a short comedy (Laurel & Hardy was always my favourite), and a feature film.  This was usually a western that had the good cowboys in white hats and smart clothes and the bad guys in black hats and with unshaven faces and who always looked untidy.   The camera would pan from the good guys to the bad guys constantly to cheers for the white hats and boos for the black hats.  In these films no-one’s gun ever ran out of bullets but surprisingly the good guys never seemed to get seriously injured.  Bad guys fell over clutching a fatal wound, but there was never any blood and the good guys always got winged in the arm without causing any real damage.

 

Excuse me digressing here for a while but this was completely unrealistic of course.  Six shooters in the old west were notoriously unreliable and if someone was unfortunate to take a bullet this would have done the most horrendous damage to flesh, muscle, sinews and important internal organs.  Bullets, or slugs, were made of soft lead and of relatively slow trajectory so if they entered the body they would have bounced about doing unimaginably painful damage and if shot it is completely unlikely that anyone would have shrugged it off as a flesh wound and carried on fighting as they did in these films.

If there wasn’t a western then quite often there would be a sci-fi feature and this would be something like ‘The Creature from the dark side of the Moon’.  The special effects left a lot to be desired and the aliens were always ugly creatures that were always after our women, which thinking about it now is a bit improbable.  A scaly black lizard creature is probably more inclined to have the hots for another scaly black lizard creature back home on Mars or wherever else it came from rather than an earth female.  Like cowboys the space heroes were dressed in white, often with goldfish bowls over their heads.  The aliens usually wore black and had ingenious secret ray guns.  As with the westerns we cheered at the whites and booed at the blacks.

If there was a period epic then this would be something like Robin Hood, William Tell, Richard the Lion Heart and my all time favourite, Zorro.  Zorro, which is Spanish for Fox, and a by-word for cunning and devious, was the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega a nobleman and master swordsman living in nineteenth century California. He defended the people against tyrannical governors and other villains and not only was he much too cunning and clever for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delighted in publicly humiliating them while riding on his horse, a jet black stallion called Tornado.  Zorro was unusual because he was dressed all in black with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed Andalusian hat, and a black cowl mask that covered his eyes. His favourite weapon was a rapier sword which he used to leave his distinctive mark, a large ‘Z’ made with three quick slashes. It was strange for a hero to be in black, so for Zorro we had to remember to cheer for the blacks and boo and hiss at the Mexican soldiers who were dressed in white.

For the staff this must have been the worst day of the week, I bet sickness levels were high on a Saturday morning.  This must have been a bit like trying to deal with a prison riot.  When the films reached the exciting bits we would flip our seats up and sit on the edge and kick furiously with our heels on the seat bottom and make a hell of a din while we reduced the plywood base to splinters.  The manager didn’t like this of course and would frequently stop the film and appear on stage to chastise us.  This was usually met with a hail of missiles that were lobbed at the stage.  The cleaning up afterwards bill must have been huge.

I stopped going to Saturday Morning pictures about 1966 and the Granada cinema closed down about ten years later.  I’m guessing it must have been 1976 because I think that the last film shown there was the Towering Inferno, which opened in January of that year.   The Granada cinema closed because of dwindling audiences but predictably the last film was a sell-out all week as people of the town flocked to the cinema for the very last time in a nostalgic tsunami  before its conversion to a bingo hall.

A Life in a Year – 6th August, Toledo Steel, Zorro and the Three Musketeers

Toledo has always been one of the most important cities in Spain and for many years it contested the status of capital with nearby Madrid and was in fact the principal city until 1560.  But Madrid gradually came to prominence under the Hapsburg Monarchy and Phillip II moved his court there and made it his capital in 1561.  Toledo compensated for this by reinventing itself as the principal religious city in the country and today remains the seat of the Primate of all Spain.

After lunch we walked to the Cathedral and paid the entrance fee of €7, which turned out to be excellent value compared to the €2 to get into the church in Belmonte.  It is one of the biggest cathedrals in the world and the interior is not at all austere as some cathedrals can be.  Slightly annoying was the fact that for those who didn’t want to pay the admission charge they could enter by a side door and although they couldn’t walk around freely and see all of the internal rooms and the especially impressive choir area, they could certainly see and appreciate the magnificent structure for free.

Outside the Cathedral we found a tourist information office and now we had a map the city was suddenly much easier to negotiate.  In the past Toledo had changed hands many times and it was renowned for its diversity and religious toleration and we visited a synagogue with, unusually for a synagogue, free admission and then after walking through a warren of mazy streets came out on the other side overlooking the modern town to the north.  Every available square metre of this rocky outcrop has been built upon and the buildings are heaped together in a random and haphazard way with cobbled lanes revealing new delights at every twist and turn.  We negotiated the narrow confusing streets and the surprises back towards the Plaza Zocodover and as we did so passed through an area of artisan’s workshops where metal workers were making swords and knives and displaying them in the windows. 

Traditionally Toledo is famous for its production of steel and especially of swords and the city is still a centre for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements.  For soldiers and adventurers a sword made of Toledo steel was a must have item because the quality of the steel and the skill of the blacksmiths combined to make an exceptionally strong and perfect lethal weapon.  The Three Musketeers had Toledo steel swords and so did Don Diego de la Vega who was more famously known as Zorro, who first appeared on 6th August 1919.  The manufacturing process was a carefully guarded secret and to make such an exceptional weapon they had to select the very best raw materials and then follow a complicated technical process to achieve the right balance between hard and soft steel forged at a temperature of 1454º Fahrenheit for exactly the right length of time and followed by the critical cooling and shaping process.  So complicated was this whole procedure and so perfect was the finished weapon that to achieve this level of precision a master craftsman would typically only be able to make two or three blades in a year.  No wonder they were expensive!

We had spent nearly four hours in Toledo but that wasn’t nearly enough time to appreciate fully the medieval magnificence of the place and in truth we had given ourselves too much to do in one day and with still a long way to go to reach our final destination for the day and we had to leave before we were ready and before we had seen everything we wanted to see.  On reflection our itinerary should have included a night in Toledo to give us more time but that wasn’t an option now because we had a hotel waiting for us in Ávila.

A Life in a Year – 30th January, Towering Inferno and the closing of Rugby Granada Cinema

In the early 1960s for a couple of years or so I went every Saturday morning to the ‘Flicks’ at the Granada Cinema at the bottom of North Street in Rugby opposite the posh new Council offices to the Saturday morning pictures.  What a fleapit.  It was an old brick building built in the late 1950s and totally without character and charm.  Present day residents of Rugby will recognise it as the home of Gala Bingo, what a tragedy!

Every Saturday morning we would get the Midland Red R66 bus, which left from the top of the road, into town and our main objective was to get to the cinema early in order to get a seat in the front row of the balcony if we could. We weren’t allowed through the front door because of the damage we could potentially do there but had to queue down the side of the building and were admitted through one of the exits at the back.  It cost sixpence (two and a half new pence) to get in and the queue was always long even before the show opened and the big boys would more often than not push in the front of the queue.

Inside the cinema was dark and smelt of stale cigarette smoke with seats covered in a red sort of velveteen.  Unlike real velvet, however, this material was not soft and for boys wearing short trousers it made your legs itch, which made it impossible to sit still and I am sure that it was the same for girls in their little skirts.  The noise levels inside were unbelievable.  About three hundred children aged between five and thirteen would scream, whistle, shout and boo at any and every opportunity.  To try and keep some sort of order the Manager had a cunning plan, which was to give out silver shillings to children who were sitting still and behaving themselves.  Throughout the show, cinema staff would pass through the building and randomly hand out the coins to kids who were trying desperately to behave.  Once you had got the shilling of course you could do pretty much behave as badly as you liked!

Cinema Interior

The show began with some old bloke on an organ that would rise out of the stage floor, like a poor man’s Reginald Dixon show, and there would be ten minutes or so of community singing.  Next came the birthday spot and paid up members of the Rugby Grenadiers Club whose birthday it was this week were invited up onto the stage to receive a present.  After the present came the ritual humiliation of ‘Happy Birthday to You’, that was normally sung by kids in the auditorium with all sorts of unsuitable for print alternative lyrics.

There were always cartoons to get things started and then there were usually about three features each week.  A serial (to make sure you came back next week), a short comedy (Laurel & Hardy was always my favourite), and a feature film.  This was usually a western that had the good cowboys in white hats and smart clothes and the bad guys in black hats and with unshaven faces and who always looked untidy.   The camera would pan from the good guys to the bad guys constantly to cheers for the white hats and boos for the black hats.  In these films no-one’s gun ever ran out of bullets but surprisingly the good guys never seemed to get seriously injured.  Bad guys fell over clutching a fatal wound, but there was never any blood and the good guys always got winged in the arm without causing any real damage.

Gun Slinger Wild West

This was completely unrealistic of course.  Six shooters in the old west were notoriously unreliable and if someone was unfortunate to take a bullet this would have done the most horrendous damage to flesh, muscle, sinews and important internal organs.  Bullets, or slugs, were made of soft lead and of relatively slow trajectory so if they entered the body they would have bounced about doing unimaginably painful damage and if shot it is completely unlikely that anyone would have shrugged it off as a flesh wound and carried on fighting as they did in these films.

If there was a sci-fi feature this would be something like ‘Jet Speed and the invaders from the dark side of the Moon’.  The special effects left a lot to be desired and the aliens were always ugly creatures that were always after our women, which thinking about it now is a bit improbable.  A scaly black lizard creature is probably more inclined to have the hots for another scaly black lizard creature back home on Mars rather than a soft milky white earth female.  Like cowboys the space heroes were dressed in white, often with goldfish bowls over their heads.  The aliens usually wore black and had ingenious secret ray guns.  As with the westerns we cheered at the whites and booed at the blacks.

If there was a period epic then this would be something Robin Hood, William Tell, Richard the Lion Heart and my all time favourite, Zorro.  Zorro, which is Spanish for Fox, and a by-word for cunning and devious, was the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega a nobleman and master swordsman living in nineteenth century California. He defended the people against tyrannical governors and other villains and not only was he much too cunning and clever for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delighted in publicly humiliating them while riding on his horse, a jet black stallion called Tornado.  Zorro was unusual because he was dressed all in black with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed Andalusian style hat, and a black cowl mask that covered his eyes. His favored weapon was a rapier sword which he used to leave his distinctive mark, a large ‘Z’ made with three quick cuts. It was strange for a hero to be in black, so for Zorro we had to remember to cheer for the blacks and boo and hiss at the Mexican soldiers who were dressed in white.

For the staff this must have been the worst day of the week, I bet sickness levels were high on a Saturday morning.  This must have been a bit like trying to deal with a prison riot.  When the films reached the exciting bits we would flip our seats up and sit on the edge and kick furiously with our heels on the seat bottom and make a hell of a din while we reduced the plywood base to splinters.  The manager didn’t like this of course and would frequently stop the film and appear on stage to chastise us.  This was usually met with a hail of missiles that were lobbed at the stage.  The cleaning up afterwards bill must have been huge.

I stopped going to Saturday Morning pictures about 1966 and the Granada cinema closed down because of dwindling audiences about ten years later.  I’m guessing it must have been 1975 because I think that the last film shown there was the Towering Inferno, which opened in January of that year.   The Granada cinema closed because of dwindling audiences but predictably the last film was a sell-out all week as people of the town flocked to the cinema for the very last time before its conversion to a bingo hall.

Saturday Morning Pictures

In the early 1960s for a couple of years or so I went every Saturday morning to the ‘Flicks’ at the Granada Cinema at the bottom of North Street in Rugby opposite the posh new Council offices to the Saturday morning pictures.  What a fleapit.  It was an old brick building built in the late 1950s and totally without character and charm.  Present day residents of Rugby will recognise it as the home of Gala Bingo, what a tragedy!

Every Saturday morning we would get the Midland Red R66 bus, which left from the top of the road, into town and our main objective was to get to the cinema early in order to get a seat in the front row of the balcony if we could. We weren’t allowed through the front door because of the damage we could potentially do there but had to queue down the side of the building and were admitted through one of the exits at the back.  It cost sixpence (two and a half new pence) to get in and the queue was always long even before the show opened and the big boys would more often than not push in the front of the queue.

Inside the cinema was dark and smelt of stale cigarette smoke with seats covered in a red sort of velveteen.  Unlike real velvet, however, this material was not soft and for boys wearing short trousers it made your legs itch, which made it impossible to sit still and I am sure that it was the same for girls in their little skirts.  The noise levels inside were unbelievable.  About three hundred children aged between five and thirteen would scream, whistle, shout and boo at any and every opportunity.  To try and keep some sort of order the Manager had a cunning plan, which was to give out silver shillings to children who were sitting still and behaving themselves.  Throughout the show, cinema staff would pass through the building and randomly hand out the coins to kids who were trying desperately to behave.  Once you had got the shilling of course you could do pretty much behave as badly as you liked!

The show began with some old bloke on an organ that would rise out of the stage floor, like a poor mans Reginald Dixon show, and there would be ten minutes or so of community singing.  Next came the birthday spot and paid up members of the Rugby Grenadiers Club whose birthday it was this week were invited up onto the stage to receive a present.  After the present came the ritual humiliation of ‘Happy Birthday to You’, that was normally sung by kids in the auditorium with all sorts of unsuitable for print alternative lyrics.

There were always cartoons to get things started and then there were usually about three features each week.  A serial (to make sure you came back next week), a short comedy (Laurel & Hardy was always my favourite), and a feature film.  This was usually a western that had the good cowboys in white hats and smart clothes and the bad guys in black hats and with unshaven faces and who always looked untidy.   The camera would pan from the good guys to the bad guys constantly to cheers for the white hats and boos for the black hats.  In these films no-one’s gun ever ran out of bullets but surprisingly the good guys never seemed to get seriously injured.  Bad guys fell over clutching a fatal wound, but there was never any blood and the good guys always got winged in the arm without causing any real damage.  This was completely unrealistic of course.  Six shooters in the old west were notoriously unreliable and if someone was unfortunate to take a bullet this would have done the most horrendous damage to flesh, muscle, sinews and important internal organs.  Bullets, or slugs, were made of soft lead and of relatively slow trajectory so if they entered the body they would have bounced about doing unimaginably painful damage and if shot it is completely unlikely that anyone would have shrugged it off as a flesh wound and carried on fighting as they did in these films.

If there was a sci-fi feature this would be something like ‘Jet Speed and the invaders from the dark side of the Moon’.  The special effects left a lot to be desired and the aliens were always ugly creatures that were always after our women, which thinking about it now is a bit improbable.  A scaly black lizard creature is probably more inclined to have the hots for another scaly black lizard creature back home on Mars rather than a soft milky white earth female.  Like cowboys the space heroes were dressed in white, often with goldfish bowls over their heads.  The aliens usually wore black and had ingenious secret ray guns.  As with the westerns we cheered at the whites and booed at the blacks.

If there was a period epic then this would be something Robin Hood, William Tell, Richard the Lion Heart and my all time favourite, Zorro.  Zorro, which is Spanish for Fox, and a by-word for cunning and devious, was the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega a nobleman and master swordsman living in nineteenth century California. He defended the people against tyrannical governors and other villains and not only was he much too cunning and clever for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delighted in publicly humiliating them while riding on his horse, a jet black stallion called Tornado.  Zorro was unusual because he was dressed all in black with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed Andalusian style hat, and a black cowl mask that covered his eyes. His favored weapon was a rapier sword which he used to leave his distinctive mark, a large ‘Z’ made with three quick cuts. It was strange for a hero to be in black, so for Zorro we had to remember to cheer for the blacks and boo and hiss at the Mexican soldiers who were dressed in white.

For the staff this must have been the worst day of the week, I bet sickness levels were high on a Saturday morning.  This must have been a bit like trying to deal with a prison riot.  When the films reached the exciting bits we would flip our seats up and sit on the edge and kick furiously with our heels on the seat bottom and make a hell of a din while we reduced the plywood base to splinters.  The manager didn’t like this of course and would frequently stop the film and appear on stage to chastise us.  This was usually met with a hail of missiles that were lobbed at the stage.  The cleaning up afterwards bill must have been huge.

I stopped going to Saturday Morning pictures about 1966 and the Granada cinema closed down because of dwindling audiences about ten years later.  I’m guessing it must have been 1975 because I think that the last film shown there was the Towering Inferno, which opened in January of that year.   The Granada cinema closed because of dwindling audiences but predictably the last film was a sell-out all week as people of the town flocked to the cinema for the very last time before its conversion to a bingo hall.