This Saturday, 19th January is National Popcorn Day ( #National PopcornDay for those on Twitter ) in the USA, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t celebrate it here in the UK. Traditionally popcorn has always been synonymous with a trip to the cinema, or movies for our counterparts in the States!! Of course these days films are watched as much at home on DVD as in the cinema and consequently popcorn is no longer the exclusive preserve of the picture house.
For those of a certain vintage, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, a trip to the cinema was a special treat and popcorn invariably accompanied the viewing. It’s hard to convey the excitement and anticipation of the cinema experience in those days. For those below the age of 40, we need to put “the trip to the cinema” into some sort of context. Essentially we are talking about an an era where there were only three TV channels, in a world devoid of rented or bought videos and DVDs and therefore a trip to the cinema was an exciting, rewarding experience. If you didn’t catch the new film release at the cinema, invariably you would have to wait at least five years before it was premiered on television.
Back at the cinema, before the big picture started, we had the commercials courtesy of Pearl and Dean, which was also an integral part of the cinema experience, with it’s glamorous commercials for Benson & Hedges cigarettes and Gordon’s Gin prefacing the start of the movie. There was always a tangible, audible thrill amongst the audience as the lights dimmed in the cinema, the thin veil curtain moved apart and the Pearl and Dean logo jumped out the screen, accompanied by that distinctive soundtrack. For those of you who have forgotten the Pearl & Dean theme music, here’s a reminder……. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0nei7gd3Uc
At the end of the glossy, glamorous Pearl & Dean commercials for national and international brands, were normally a couple of cheaply made, tacky ones for a local Indian restaurant, taxi firm or hardware shop. These bargain basement adverts signalled the end of the Pearl & Dean commercials and the commencement of the film. As if it to tease us, the thin veil curtain would move across the screen and almost immediately swish back as a man hitting a giant gong or Leo the Lion roaring would greet us.
Throughout the film, usherettes guided by torches, would circulate the cinema, with trays brimming with more more popcorn, Kia-Ora orange juice in square containers, orange ice lollies on wooden splinter sticks and tubs of ice cream with those distinctive pale blue mini spade spoons. A trip to the cinema in the 1960s and 1970s really was an adventure and as much as I like the convenience of DVDs, they diminish the exclusivity and excitement of going to the cinema as the only way of seeing a new film……Here’s a Top 10 Best Films I saw first at the cinema as a child / teenager –
1) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ( 1968 )
3) Jaws ( 1976 )
4) Jungle Book ( 1967 )
5) The Spy Who Loved Me ( 1977 )
6) Taxi Driver ( 1976 )
7) Oliver ( 1968 )
8) Mary Poppins ( 1964 )
9) Cromwell ( 1970 )
10) Saturday Night Fever ( 1977 )
What are your favourite films that you saw at the cinema as a kid or a teenager? Let us know in the Reply Box below.
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