4th April – on the screen – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Good Friday only – at 2.30 and 6.40 – seats bookable – 6/- to 8/6 – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD – a huge 1965 American epic film from United Artists, produced and directed by George Stevens for screening in Cinerama theatres. It is a retelling of the Biblical account about Jesus of Nazareth, from the Nativity through to the Ascension.
This was its first and only screening in Southampton, almost 4 years since it opened at the London Casino Cinerama. The original running time was 4 hr 20 min (260 min). The time was revised three times, to 3 hr 58 min (238 min); to 3 hr 17 min (197 min) for the United Kingdom, and finally 2 hr 17 min (137 min) for general U.S. release. Commercially, the film was not successful, it had grossed less than 17 percent of the amount required to break even and its inability to connect with audiences discouraged production of biblical epics for years.
6th April – RING OF BRIGHT WATER
On the screen – For seven days – Ring of Bright Water is a 1969 British-American feature film starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. The Southampton screening was one of its first provincial showings. It is a story about a Londoner and his pet otter living on the Scottish coast. The story is fictional, but is adapted from the 1960 autobiographical book of the same name by Gavin Maxwell. It featured the stars of Born Free, another film about a close relationship between humans and a wild animal.
The programme was completed with a revival of THE MAGNIFICENT TWO – a 1967 British comedy film directed by Cliff Owen and starring Morecambe and Wise in the third and final of their trio of films.
13th April – DEMON DOCTOR
On the screen – for one day only – DEMON DOCTOR is a 1962 Spanish–French horror film, directed by Jesús Franco. It stars Howard Vernon as the mad Dr. Orloff who wants to repair his disfigured daughter’s face with skin grafts from other women with the aid of a slavish, blind henchman named Morpho. The film is considered to be the earliest Spanish horror film. Howard Vernon continued to appear in a number of Franco’s horror films up until his death.
The support was THE UNBELIEVABLE – an American/Japanese horror flic.
14th April – CINDERELLA
On the screen – for six days – CINDERELLA – a re-release of the 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney. It became the greatest critical and commercial hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Music, Original Song for “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and Best Sound.
The supporting feature, The Horse In The Grey Flannel Suit, was a new Disney light comedy family film directed by Norman Tokar, with a screenplay by Louis Pelletier, based on the 1955 book, The Year of the Horse by Eric Hatch. The film stars Dean Jones, Diane Baker, Ellen Janov, Kurt Russell and Lurene Tuttle in the principal roles.
20th April – THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES
On the screen – for six days only (not Weds 23rd) -THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES; Or, How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes, was a re-issue of a 1965 British period comedy film featuring an international ensemble cast including Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Robert Morley, Terry-Thomas, James Fox, Red Skelton, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Gert Fröbe and Alberto Sordi.
The film, revolving around the craze of early aviation, was directed and co-written by Ken Annakin, with a musical score by Ron Goodwin. Based on a screenplay entitled Flying Crazy, the fictional account is set in 1910, when Lord Rawnsley, an English press magnate, offers £10,000 to the winner of the Daily Post air race from London to Paris, to prove that Britain is “number one in the air”. The film was produced by 20th Century Fox in Todd-AO and had run for a successful season in 70mm at the City’s Odeon in 1965.
The supporting programme included an edition of Rank’s interest series ‘Look At Life’
23rd April – ROMEO AND JULIET
On the screen – for one day only – ROMEO & JULIET – at 2.35 and 7.50 – seats bookable at 6/- to 8/6.
A BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated Royal Ballet adaptation of ROMEO AND JULIET, directed by Paul Czinner and released by Rank, this celebrated 1966 production features mesmerisingly vulnerable performances from both Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers.
Four years into their joint tenure at the Royal Ballet (Nureyev as Principal Dancer and Fonteyn as Prima Ballerina), this production unequivocally captures on film one of the greatest artistic partnerships of the twentieth century. A ballet masterpiece on many levels from Prokofiev’s stunning score to Kenneth MacMillan’s exquisite choreography.
27th April – BABY LOVE
On the screen – for seven days – BABY LOVE is a 1969 British drama film from AvcoEmbassy, directed by Alastair Reid and starring Ann Lynn, Keith Barron, Linda Hayden and Diana Dors. The film tells the story of a schoolgirl who seduces her adoptive family after her mother commits suicide. Reid went on to work in television, while Linda Hayden, who was only 15 at the time of filming, later appeared in sexploitation movies, including two of the entries in the Confessions film series, Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974) and Confessions from a Holiday Camp (1977). The film features an uncredited appearance by Bruce Robinson, later to direct Withnail & I (1987). The film made the top twenty highest grossers in the UK in 1969 at number 11.
Support feature was AN EYE FOR AN EYE, a 1996 American psychological thriller film from Paramount, directed by John Schlesinger and written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The film stars Sally Field, Kiefer Sutherland, Ed Harris, Beverly D’Angelo and Joe Mantegna. The story was adapted from Erika Holzer’s novel of the same name.
4th May – CANDY
On the screen – for seven days – CANDY – a sex farce film directed by Christian Marquand based on the 1958 novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, from a screenplay by Buck Henry. The film satirises pornographic stories through the adventures of its naive heroine, Candy, played by Ewa Aulin. It stars Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, Walter Matthau, Ringo Starr, John Huston, John Astin, Charles Aznavour, Elsa Martinelli and Enrico Maria Salerno. Popular figures such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Anita Pallenberg, Florinda Bolkan, Marilù Tolo, Nicoletta Machiavelli and Umberto Orsini also appear in cameo roles.
The Window Cleaner, a 35 minute British sex comedy, short film that made up the programme.
11th May – SWEET CHARITY
On the screen – for seven days – SWEET CHARITY – Separate Performances – Normal Prices – Sweet Charity (full title: Sweet Charity: The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved) is a 1969 American musical comedy-drama film from Universal, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse (in his feature directorial debut), written by Peter Stone, and featuring music by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields. It stars Shirley MacLaine and features John McMartin, Sammy Davis Jr., Ricardo Montalbán, Chita Rivera, Paula Kelly and Stubby Kaye. It is based on the 1966 stage musical of the same name – which Fosse had also directed and choreographed – which in turn is based on Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli’s screenplay for Fellini’s film Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria). However, where Fellini’s black-and-white film concerns the romantic ups-and-downs of an ever-hopeful prostitute, the musical makes the central character a dancer-for-hire at a Times Square dance-hall. The film is notable for its costumes by Edith Head and its dance sequences, notably “Rich Man’s Frug”.
It got a belated first run of just one week at the Gaumont rather than the more usual 70mm season at the Odeon.
Running at nearly 3 hours the supporting programme was limited to an edition of Look At Life.
18th May – PENDULUM
On the screen – for six days – (not Weds 21st) – PENDULUM – a 1969 American film from Columbia Pictures starring George Peppard, Jean Seberg and Richard Kiley. It was the first feature directed by experienced TV director George Schaefer. A thriller about Washington DC Police Captain Frank Matthews, who on the evening of his decoration for bringing a murderer to justice, his wife and her lover are murdered in bed. Jailed as the prime suspect, with the aforementioned murderer released on a technicality Matthews escapes in search of the man he believes to be the real killer.
Making up the programme is THE DESPERADOS, a 1969 Columbia, Technicolor Western film directed by Henry Levin and starring Vince Edwards and Jack Palance.
21st May – OTHELLO
On The Screen – For One Day Only – OTHELLO – Separate Performances at 2.30 and 7.30 – seats at 6/- to 8/6. A 1951 tragedy film of OTHELLO, directed and produced by Orson Welles, who also adapted the Shakespearean play and played the title role. Recipient of the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (precursory name for the Palme d’Or) at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival, the film was distributed by United Artists. It was filmed on location over a three-year period in Morocco, Venice, Tuscany and Rome and at the Scalera Studios in Rome. In addition to Orson Welles, the cast consisted of Micheál MacLiammóir as Iago, Robert Coote as Roderigo, Suzanne Cloutier as Desdemona, Michael Laurence as Cassio, Fay Compton as Emilia and Doris Dowling as Bianca.
25th May – RING OF BRIGHT WATER
On the screen – for seven days – returning by popular demand – RING OF BRIGHT WATER. Having done so well here and across the country Rank quickly rebooked Ring Of Bright Water for a number of dates at key theatres. So having played the week of the 6th April the film returns for the Whit Holiday break.
This time another of the three Morecambe and Wise films, THAT RIVIERA TOUCH, makes up the programme.
1st June – OTLEY
On the screen – for seven days – OTLEY, a 1968 British comedy thriller film. It was adapted by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais from a book by Martin Waddell, produced by Carl Foreman and released by Columbia Pictures. Tom Courtenay plays Gerald Arthur “Gerry” Otley, a charming but feckless young drifter who scrapes a living from selling antiques in trendy 1960s London. Gerry’s responsibility-free life suddenly takes a serious turn, when he finds himself caught up in a round of murder, espionage and quadruple crossing. He is mistaken for a spy; is kidnapped and detained several times; and becomes romantically involved with a foreign agent (Romy Schneider) working for British Intelligence.
Watch the complete film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXeyKKU-Sxk
Making up the programme was BEFORE WINTER COMES a 1969 British film directed by J. Lee Thompson from a screenplay by Andrew Sinclair.
8th June – IF HE HOLLERS LET HIM GO
On the screen – for seven days – IF HE HOLLERS LET HIM GO! a 1968 American crime film based on the 1945 eponymous novel by Chester Himes. An escaped convict goes to a small town to clear his name. He becomes part of a murder plot in order to pull his plan off. Directed by Charles Martin and starring Dana Wynter and Raymond St Jacques.
The second half of the week’s double bill was TODAY IT’S ME – TOMORROW YOU, a 1968 spaghetti western starring Brett Halsey and Bud Spencer
15th June – FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
On the screen – for six days (Not Sat 21st) – FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, a United Artist’s double bill of reissues – the 1965 spaghetti western FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE directed by Sergio Leone. It stars Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as bounty hunters and Gian Maria Volonté as the primary villain. German actor Klaus Kinski plays a supporting role as a secondary villain. The film was an international co-production among Italy, West Germany, and Spain. The film was released in the Britain in 1967, and is the second part of what is commonly known as the Dollars Trilogy, following A Fistful of Dollars and preceding The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The films catapulted Eastwood and Van Cleef into stardom. Film historian Richard Schickel, in his biography of Clint Eastwood, believed that this was the best film in the trilogy, arguing that it was “more elegant and complex than A Fistful of Dollars and more tense and compressed than The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Director Alex Cox considered the church scene to be one of “the most horrible deaths” of any Western, describing Volonté’s Indio as the “most diabolical Western villain of all time.”
Completing the double bill was THE KNACK …and How to Get It, a 1965 British comedy film directed by Richard Lester and based on the play by Ann Jellicoe. Starring Michael Crawford and Rita Tushingham it won the Palme d’Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association. It was also in competition for the Golden Bear at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival.
21st June – VICTOR BORGE
On stage – one night only – VICTOR BORGE, a Danish comedian, conductor, and pianist who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the Britain, the USA and Europe. His blend of music and comedy earned him the nicknames “The Clown Prince of Denmark,” “The Unmelancholy Dane,”and “The Great Dane.
When the German armed forces occupied Denmark on April 9, 1940, during World War II, Borge was playing and managed to escape to America on the United States Army transport American Legion and arrived 28 August 1940, with only $20. Even though Borge did not speak a word of English upon arrival, he quickly managed to adapt his jokes to the American audience, learning English by watching movies. He took the name of Victor Borge, and in 1941, he started on Rudy Vallee’s radio show. He was hired soon after by Bing Crosby for his Kraft Music Hall program. Borge quickly rose to fame, winning Best New Radio Performer of the Year in 1942. Soon after the award, he was offered film roles with stars such as Frank Sinatra (in Higher and Higher). While hosting The Victor Borge Show on NBC beginning in 1946, he developed many of his trademarks, including repeatedly announcing his intent to play a piece but getting “distracted” by something or other, making comments about the audience, or discussing the usefulness of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” as an egg timer. In 1968, classical pianist Şahan Arzruni joined him as his straight man, performing together on one piano a version of Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody, considered a musical-comedic classic. This was Borge’s first of a number of appearances at the Southampton Gaumont, on previous tours having played Bournemouth Gaumont which had now been turned into twin cinemas and unable to host live performances.
22nd June – 100 RIFLES
On the screen – for seven days – 100 RIFLES, a 1969 western from 20th Century Fox, directed by Tom Gries and starring Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welch and Fernando Lamas. It is based on Robert MacLeod’s 1966 novel The Californio. In 1912 Sonora, Mexico, native revolutionary Yaqui Joe robs a bank to buy arms for his oppressed people, but finds himself sought by an American lawman and the Mexican Army. The film was shot in Spain. The original music score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.
The second feature was PANIC IN THE CITY is a 1968 American thriller film directed by Eddie Davis and written by Eddie Davis and Charles E. Savage. The film is about nuclear weapons, set and filmed on location in Los Angeles in 1967. The film stars Howard Duff, Linda Cristal, Stephen McNally, Nehemiah Persoff, Anne Jeffreys, Oscar Beregi Jr. and Gregory Morton.
29th June – THE BOSTON STRANGLER
On the screen – for seven days – THE BOSTON STRANGLER, a 1968 American neo-noir film loosely based on the true story of the Boston Strangler and the book by Gerold Frank. It was directed by Richard Fleischer and stars Tony Curtis as Albert DeSalvo, the strangler, and Henry Fonda as John S. Bottomly, the chief detective who came to fame for obtaining DeSalvo’s confession. Curtis was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance. The cast also featured George Kennedy and the film debut of Sally Kellerman.
A re-issue provided the support, NAKED EVIL, a black-and-white independent 1966 British horror film, produced by Michael F. Johnson, and written and directed by Stanley Goulder. The film stars Basil Dingnam, Anthony Ainley, Richard Coleman and John Ashley Hamilton. It tells a story of voodoo activities in an all-male student hostel in a fictitious English city, where the brilliant resident students are from Jamaica and other countries in the Commonwealth realm. The bizarre events at the hostel and a local neighbourhood are investigated by a detective inspector who, with the help of a priest, comes to realise that he’s not dealing with the usual sort of crime. They discover what several of the students already know: that the hostel’s elderly caretaker is a Jamaican ‘obi man’ who is responsible for the evil that has enveloped the hostel. The film was based on a BBC-TV play The Obi by Jon Manchip White.