1st July – STRAW DOGS
On the screen – for six days (Not Mon 2nd) – STRAW DOGS – a re-issue of a 1971 psychological thriller film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. Distributed by Cinerama Releasing, the screenplay, by Peckinpah and David Zelag Goodman, is lightly based upon Gordon M. Williams’s 1969 novel, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. The film’s title derives from a discussion in the Tao Te Ching that likens people to the ancient Chinese ceremonial straw dog, being of ceremonial worth, but afterwards discarded with indifference. The film is noted for its violent concluding sequences and a complicated rape scene. Released theatrically in the same year as A Clockwork Orange, The French Connection, and Dirty Harry, the film sparked heated controversy over a perceived increase of violence in films generally. Although controversial at the time, Straw Dogs is considered by some to be one of Peckinpah’s greatest films.
DEATH WEEKEND a 1976 Canadian horror/thriller film. It stars Brenda Vaccaro and Don Stroud and was one of the first films from Canadian director William Fruet. The low-budget production was shot in rural Canada and at a studio in Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada. When issued on video the VHS was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
2nd July – IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS
Live – one night only – IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS – Under the management of Andrew King and Peter Jenner (the original managers of Pink Floyd) IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS quickly gained a reputation in the late seventies as one of the top live new wave music acts. Their first single, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”, marked Dury’s Stiff debut and although it was banned by the BBC it was named Single of the Week by NME on its release. It was soon followed by the album New Boots and Panties!!, which was eventually to achieve platinum status. (Although it has been claimed that Dury coined the phrase “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”, there is evidence that it was already in common use and a very similar phrase had been used by Australian band Daddy Cool for the title of their 1972 second album Sex, Dope & Rock’n’Roll: Teenage Heaven.) The tune is based on part of Charlie Haden’s bass solo on “Ramblin'” on Ornette Coleman’s 1959 album Change of the Century. Dury and the band built up a dedicated following in the UK and other countries and scored several hit singles, including “What a Waste”, “Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick” (which was a UK number one at the beginning of 1979, selling just short of a million copies) and “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3” (number three in the UK in 1979). The band’s second album, Do It Yourself, was released in June 1979 in a Barney Bubbles designed sleeve of which there were over a dozen variations, all based on samples from the Crown wallpaper catalogue. Bubbles also designed the Blockhead logo, which received international acclaim. Their visit to the Gaumont was part of a tour to promote the new album.
Support was provided by Root Boy Slim and The Sex Change Band. An alternative rock band, formed by front man Foster MacKenzie III and included musicians such as tenor saxophonist Ron Holloway) and an ensemble titled Crying Out Loud. The band had cultivated a dedicated fan base, largely confined to the Washington metropolitan area and this was one of their very few excursions outside the USA.
8th July – Closed
9th July – LONDON FESTIVAL BALLET
July 9, 1979 – On the stage – for six days – LONDON FESTIVAL BALLET. In 1979, John Field succeeded Beryl Grey as Director. At this point the Company turned to developing its own talents, rather than depending as much on guest artists. The recent move to join Sadler Wells Opera at the London Coliseum and establish a base there enabled the company to develop their London and touring seasons.
The Company brought 2 productions for the week to Southampton. For the first part of the week (Monday through Thursday) they performed Rosalinda, an entertaining performance based on the adored operetta, “Die Fledermaus,” the music for which was written by Johann Strauss Jr. Rosalinda is a fun-filled, three-act ballet that tells the story of a witty woman who exposes her husband’s penchant for infidelity without losing her dignity. On Friday and Saturday they performed the ever popular Coppelia (sometimes subtitled: The Girl With The Enamel Eyes) a comic ballet originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to the music of Léo Delibes, with libretto by Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter. Nuitter’s libretto and mise-en-scène was based upon two stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman) and Die Puppe (The Doll).
15th July – MOONRAKER
On the screen – for EIGHT weeks – MOONRAKER – a 1979 British spy film from United Artists, the eleventh in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The third and final film in the series to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, it co-stars Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Corinne Cléry, and Richard Kiel. Bond investigates the theft of a space shuttle, leading him to Hugo Drax, the owner of the shuttle’s manufacturing firm. Along with space scientist Dr. Holly Goodhead, Bond follows the trail from California to Venice, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon rainforest, and finally into outer space to prevent a plot to wipe out the world population and to recreate humanity with a master race. Moonraker was intended by its creator Ian Fleming to become a film even before he completed the novel in 1954, since he based it on a screenplay manuscript he had written even earlier. The film’s producers had originally intended to film For Your Eyes Only, but instead chose this title due to the rise of the science fiction genre in the wake of the Star Wars phenomenon. Budgetary issues caused the film to be primarily shot in France, with locations also in Italy, Brazil, Guatemala and the United States. The soundstages of Pinewood Studios in England, traditionally used for the series, were only used by the special effects team.
Moonraker was noted for its high production cost more than twice as much as The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and it received mixed reviews. However, the film’s visuals were praised, with Derek Meddings being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and it eventually became the highest-grossing film of the series at the time a record that stood until 1995’s GoldenEye.
The film set new box-office records for the Gaumont and established a record which still stands as the longest run for a film at the theatre.
MOONRAKER – CONTINUING UNTIL 8th SEPTEMBER
9th September – FIREPOWER
On the screen – for SIX days – FIREPOWER – (NOT Fri 14th), a 1979 British thriller film from ITC, directed by Michael Winner and starring Sophia Loren, James Coburn, O. J. Simpson and Eli Wallach. It was the final film in the career of actor Victor Mature. The film was poorly reviewed by critics who objected to its convoluted plot, though the lead performances and filming locations were generally praised. The story tells of a former mafia hitman (James Coburn), hired by the FBI to track down and bring in a powerful reclusive billionaire suspected of criminal acts for his own benefit. The man also comes into a conflict with a woman (Sophia Loren) tracking down the same crook for revenge reasons. Producer Lew Grade had fully expected Charles Bronson to co-star with Loren. With much of the pre-production crew already on location in the Caribbean, Grade wanted to shut down the production when Bronson pulled out. Realising how much money he had already sunk into a film that had not properly secured its star actors, Grade saved face by moving ahead using James Coburn as a replacement for Bronson.
The double bill was completed by LOVE & BULLETS a 1979 film directed by Stuart Rosenberg. This one did star Charles Bronson, it is based on a screenplay by Wendell Mayes and John Melson. The ITC released film was originally to have been directed by John Huston and advertisements were taken out in Variety to promote this fact. Huston apparently did film some scenes but walked off the set after disagreements with the producers. Veteran director Rosenberg stepped in on the troubled production. The resulting movie received almost-unanimously poor reviews.[
14th September – THE POLICE
Live – one night only – THE POLICE, were a British rock band formed in London in 1977. The band consisted of Sting (lead vocals, bass guitar, primary songwriter), Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums, percussion). The Police became globally popular in the late 1970s. Emerging in the British new-wave scene, they played a style of rock influenced by punk, reggae, and jazz. Considered one of the leaders of the Second British Invasion of the US. Their 1978 debut album, Outlandos d’Amour, reached No. 6 in the UK Albums Chart. Their second album Reggatta de Blanc (1979), became their first No. 1 studio album in the UK and Australia with its lead single, “Message in a Bottle”, their first UK number one. It was on the back of this that they brought their sell-out Reggatta de Blanc Tour to Southampton on their first visit. It was so successful that they would bring the tour back to the Gaumont before the year was out.
17th September – SHOWBOAT
On the stage – for six days – The amateur company Southern Theatre Productions brought the musical SHOWBOAT to the theatre for the third time and the second as an amateur production. The first time it played the theatre it was the Empire, when in April 1929 it was the original Drury Lane production of Showboat.
Show Boat is a musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Edna Ferber’s best-selling novel of the same name. The musical follows the lives of the performers, stagehands and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi Rivershow boat, over 40 years from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as “Ol’ Man River”, “Make Believe”, and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”.
23rd September – HAIR
On the screen – for THREE days (not Tues 25th) – Hair is a 1979 musical anti-war drama film from United Artists, making a swift return to the City. It was based on the 1968 Broadway musical Hair: An American Tribal Love-Rock Musical about a Vietnam War draftee who meets and befriends a “tribe” of hippies on his way to the army induction center. The hippies introduce him to marijuana and LSD, and their environment of unorthodox relationships and draft evasion.
The film was directed by Miloš Forman (who was nominated for a César for his work on the film) and adapted for the screen by Michael Weller (who would collaborate with Forman on a second picture, Ragtime, two years later). Cast members include Treat Williams, John Savage, Beverly D’Angelo, Don Dacus, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Nell Carter, Cheryl Barnes, Richard Bright, Ellen Foley and Charlotte Rae. Dance scenes were choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and were performed by the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation. The film was nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture (for Williams).
Watch the trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC0FRKPuZM4
25th September – DON WILLIAMS
Live – for one night only – DON WILLIAMS – (Donald Ray Williams) was an American country singer, songwriter. He began his solo career in 1971, singing popular ballads and amassing 17 number one country hits. His straightforward yet smooth bass-baritone voice, soft tones, and imposing build earned him the nickname: “Gentle Giant” of country music. This was his second visit to the Gaumont and by this time he’d had a string of top ten country hits including UK top forty pop chart hits with “You’re My Best Friend” and “I Recall a Gypsy Woman”.
27th September – LEO SAYER
Live on stage – one night only – LEO SAYER – making his second visit to the Gaumont. This tour, was to support his greatest hits compilation album, The Very Best of Leo Sayer. His seventh album, it was in the #1 spot in the UK Albums Chart for 3 weeks and was his only chart-topper in the UK Albums Chart.
In the early 70s Leo had entered into a remarkable creative partnership with David Courtney and the two started writing, Dave’s bright pop melodies fusing wonderfully with Leo’s bruised loner lyrics. They worked separately – David bashing out the melodies on his Knight upright piano, Leo in the next room, surrounded by books of poems and lyrics that he’d been writing since his early teens. They put everything down onto David’s Grundig tape machine. Those tapes are still around today, and show clearly how songs like “One Man Band” and “Giving It All Away” were originally conceived. After an abortive attempt to get a deal with Beatles producer, George Martin’s new Air Records label, they took the songs that they had demoed to David’s ex – employer, Adam Faith. Adam’s response was immediate and dynamic. Leo’s band Patches were booked into London’s Olympic Studios less than a week later, to make his first single.
The B.B.C. offered Leo a slot on their T.V. rock show, “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. Leo came on the show dressed as a Pierrot and such was the reaction to his performance, the entire business noted that a new star was born. Leo went on a British and European tour supporting Roxy Music, now appearing on stage dressed as the Pierrot. Leo’s wife Janice made the costumes and applied his make up, and they were quite inseparable. “The Show Must Go On”, released as the second single, went to number 2 in the U.K. charts and the “Silverbird” album also reached number 2 in the album chart. The B.B.C. put Leo In Concert on T.V. and as the year of 1973 drew to a close both the Melody Maker and The Sun newspaper (on the cover of it’s new year issue) predicted Leo as “The Star Of ‘74”.
28th September – SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES
Live – for one night only – SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES – were an English rock band, formed in London in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin. They have been widely influential, both over their contemporaries and with later acts. While the band sold out venues in London in early 1978, they still had problems getting the right recording contract that could give them “complete artistic control”. Polydor finally offered this guarantee and signed them in June. Their first single, “Hong Kong Garden”, featuring a xylophone motif, reached the top 10 in the UK shortly after. A NME review hailed it as “a bright, vivid narrative, something like snapshots from the window of a speeding Japanese train, power charged by the most original, intoxicating guitar playing I heard in a long, long time”. The band released their debut album, The Scream, in November 1978. Nick Kent of NME said of the record: “The band sounds like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can, if any parallel can be drawn”. At the end of the article, he added this remark: “Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results”. The Banshees’ second album, Join Hands, was released in 1979. In Melody Maker, Jon Savage described “Poppy Day” as “a short, powerful evocation of the Great War graveyards”, and Record Mirror described the whole record as a dangerous work that “should be heard”.
The Banshees embarked on a major tour to promote the album. A few dates into the tour in September, Morris and McKay left an in-store signing after an argument and quit the band. In need of replacements to fulfill tour dates, the Banshees’ manager called drummer Budgie, formerly with the Slits, and asked him to audition. Budgie was hired, but Siouxsie and Severin had no success auditioning guitarists. Robert Smith of the Cure offered his services in case they could not find a guitarist (his group were already the support band on the tour), so the band held him to it after seeing too many “rock virtuosos”. The tour resumed and it was this revised line-up that came to the Gaumont. After the last concert, Smith returned to the Cure.
29th September – THE SHADOWS
Live on stage – one night only – THE SHADOWS – (originally known as the Drifters) were an English instrumental rock group. They were Cliff Richard’s backing band from 1958 to 1968 and on numerous reunion tours. The group, who were in the forefront of the UK beat-group boom, were the first UK backing band to emerge as stars. As pioneers of the four-member instrumental format, the band consisted of lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums. Their range covers pop, rock, surf rock and ballads with a jazz influence. The core members from 1958 were Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch. Along with the Fender guitar, another cornerstone of the Shadows sound was the Vox amplifier. The Shadows, with Cliff Richard, dominated British popular music in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the years before the Beatles. The Shadows’ number one hits included “Apache”, “Kon-Tiki”, “Wonderful Land”, “Foot Tapper” and “Dance On!”. They disbanded in 1968, but reunited in the 1970s for further commercial success. The Shadows are the fourth most successful act in the UK singles chart, behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Cliff Richard. The Shadows and Cliff Richard & the Shadows each have had four No. 1 selling EPs.
This was their third solo appearance as a group at the Gaumont, but their eleventh overall.
30th September – AVALANCHE EXPRESS
On the screen – for FOUR days – (Not Tues, Weds, Sat) – AVALANCHE EXPRESS – a 1979 Cold War adventure thriller film produced and directed by Mark Robson (his final film) for 20th Century Fox, about the struggle over a defecting Russian general. It stars Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw (in his final film role), Maximilian Schell, and Linda Evans. The screenplay by Abraham Polonsky was based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Colin Forbes. During production in Ireland, both director Mark Robson and starring actor Robert Shaw died of heart attacks within weeks of each other. Monte Hellman was brought in to finish the direction and Gene Corman (Roger Corman’s brother) was called in to complete Robson’s duties as producer. Robert Rietty was hired to re-voice Robert Shaw’s dialogue in the opening scene, as it was decided to redo that scene in Russian with English subtitles instead of having the Russians speak broken English. As a consequence, for continuity, all of Shaw’s dialogue throughout the film was re-voiced by Rietty. Hellman, Corman and Rietty were not credited for their work, but the film’s end credit contains a note stating: “The producers wish to express their appreciation to Monte Hellman and Gene Corman for their post-production services.”
THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE a 1972 American disaster film from 20th Century Fox, directed by Ronald Neame, produced by Irwin Allen, and based on Paul Gallico’s eponymous 1969 novel. It features an ensemble cast, including five Academy Award winners: Gene Hackman; Ernest Borgnine; Jack Albertson; Shelley Winters; and Red Buttons. Parts of the movie were filmed aboard the RMS Queen Mary. The plot centers on the fictional SS Poseidon, an aged luxury liner on her final voyage from New York City to Athens before being sent to the scrapyard. On New Year’s Eve, she is overturned by a tsunami. Passengers and crew are trapped inside, and a rebellious preacher attempts to lead a small group of survivors to safety. By the end of 1974, it was regarded as a widely successful film. The film won two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Motion Picture Sound Editors Award. The 1979 sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure was a critical and commercial failure.[