Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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February for Films and Romance

It’s February and a time for film fans as they gear up to celebrate the 85th Academy Awards when the best films of 2012 are honoured. “The Oscars” have been the highest honour for film achievement since 1929. The event was first televised in 1953 and is now broadcast internationally to over 200 countries.


Ryde has a long history of hosting film entertainment at various venues and the local press also has a long history of advertising ‘What’s On.’

Films May 1944In 1944 it was reported that being screened at the Theatre Royal was a ‘Masterly Portrayal by Lawrence Olivier’ in ‘The Demi-Paradise,’ It was apparently ‘a whimsical role’ for Olivier who played a young Russian engineer, bewildered by working in Barchester and then the War breaks out. If you weren’t an Olivier fan they were also screening ‘The Lamp Still Burns,’ which contained, in addition to the professional film players, many of the real nurses from one of Britain’s largest hospitals. The nurses appeared in the scenes in which the two lovers of this dramatic story ‘get to know each other’. It starred Rosamund John and Stewart Granger and ‘John Laurie brings flashes of kindly humour to the part of the house surgeon, and Margaret Vyner appears as a young violinist in love…’ Sounds like one for the romantic date!!

Under the heading of The Scala, however, we are asked: ‘What happens to a woman in the clutches of the Nazis?’ This dramatic question is the theme of ‘The Night is Ending’ and we can read details of this ‘fast-moving production’ which has an affable mannered French patriot, a cruel Nazi commander, doctors and nurses (again) and a devoted underground movement. On the same programme ‘Lovely to Look at’ starring Tyrone Power, is ‘a gay musical with shimmering Alpine beauty and interspersed through the romantic story are three elaborate skating numbers.’ Thank goodness there was a bit more romance in the second half for those cuddling up in the back stalls!

By the 1960s the Scala is showing an amazing variety of films so you and your date can discuss which one you prefer to see. The headline ‘Singers in the Saddle’ might make us think that the War and doctors and nurses have long been forgotten. Beginning a three-day run today, Rio Bravo has Dean Martin in his first Western, opposite saddle-sore veteran John Wayne and singer Ricky Nelson. Fists and guns a plenty.

Sunday brings a one-day showing of The Deadly Mantis, an “X” certificate feature about a monster insect which leaves a path of devastation (What a challenge to DDT manufacturers!)

Monday sees the start of a three-day run for What a Whopper, which has Adam Faith, Carole Lesley and Sid James in a slapstick comedy.’

Road to Hong KongIn 1962 the headline about the Scala reads, ‘They’re on the Road Again.’

‘Flower Drum Song’ is a musical set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Nancy Kwan is the star, supported by an almost entirely Chinese cast. Rogers and Hammerstein wrote the music.

Sunday brings a double “X” certificate programme, Dolls of Vice and Juvenile Passion. The titles are salaciously self explanatory.

Monday sees the start of a six-day run for the veteran “road” team. Crosby and Hope, this time in the Road to Hong Kong. They get mixed up with a spy ring and meet beautiful Joan Collins in the process. One of the funniest scenes in the film is their visit to an Indian doctor, played by Peter Sellers. Good family entertainment.

The Isle of Wight County Press in 2013 gives brief information on what is up and coming at The Commodore.

‘Life of Pi (PG) A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery – forming an unexpected connection with another survivor, a Bengal tiger. Directed by Ang Lee.’

‘The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (12A) A curious hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the lonely mountain with a group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by a dragon.’

Not much variety here and if you want something a bit more extreme you have to go to Newport where they are showing ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D (18) A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance but little does she know an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward. Horror.’

However, we might consider that in the Victorian era, Wartime, the Swinging Sixties and right up to the 21st century, on some dates it doesn’t matter what the film is about as the romantic couple don’t really watch much of it. Some things never change.

Sources: IW Times 4 May 1944, IW Times 16 November 1961 & 26 April 1962, IW County Press 18 January 2013