30 Apr 2011

Commercial for "For the Love of Film: the Film Preservation Blogathon" hosted by Ferdy on Films and the Self-Styled Siren on Febraury 14-21, 2010.

28 Apr 2011


Discover. Preserve. Protect.

Launched in December 2000, Cinema Treasures is a website devoted to movie theater preservation and awareness. Using the Internet, Cinema Treasures unites movie theater owners and enthusiasts in a common cause to save the last remaining movie palaces across the US and the world.

Full disclosure: they are a bit anal when it comes to form. The Editing Policy is a bit on the demanding site, although harmless. Highly recommended site.

This is my own adition. The Cine Gaumont.

26 Apr 2011

25 Apr 2011

Memory & Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress

Excerpt from the film produced by Michael Lawrence Films and Krainin Productions.

24 Apr 2011

RESTORATION (DATE April 23rd, 2011)

It is finally here. It took almost 2 months to fly from NZ to Argie, but it was worth the wait.

The FPS gauge

Its new home

Together at last

21 Apr 2011


RESTORATION DATE (March 29th, 2011)

Trying to piece together this Reyes Soundhead from odd bits and pieces is not an easy process. As you can see, not all pieces come from the same sources, and hence, not all fit the way they should.

Funny detail about the assembly: the soundhead door has a nook tailor cut for the pipe that carries the solar cell wires, in the upper right corner of the glass window.

Conclusions: the pipe is in the right place, but of the incorrect length. There has to be more than one size of it, despite what the experts say.

That hand belongs to the person who stole that plate from a working booth (in the background). He knew that I was after one, and, without much consideration for his personal well being, he "got" me one. My debt of gratitude to this fellon and friend! ;)

20 Apr 2011


VistaVision is a higher resolution, widescreen variant of the 35mm motion picture film format which was created by engineers at Paramount Pictures in 1954.

VistaVision was Paramount´s response to 20th Century Fox´s Cinemascope, which in turn was devised with the intention of stealing some of the crowds that were drawn to the few Cinerama theatres available in the world. It seemed that widescreen features were the answer to Hollywood´s prayers to try and lure audiences back into the theatres and away from the new technological threat: the TV set.

The soul of the VistaVision process was 35mm film, but travelling horizontally in the gate (instead of vertically) at eight sprocket holes per frame (instead of 4), giving a negative image area nearly three times bigger than the standard negative aperture.

The process included new wider angle lenses to give greater scope on the big screens and PERSPECT-A STEREOPHONIC SOUND. This type of sound was comprised of a single photographic sound track located in the standard position so that they will reproduce on any standard optical sound head in any projector the world over. What made it PERSPECT-A, was the use of frequencies below 30Hz as modulated control signals that assigned a certain sound source -one of the speakers located throughout the audiorium- to different parts of the soundtrack.

One of the design breathroughs of the PERSPECT-A system was that the sound control units had an automatic return to monaural sound in case of trouble. Today that is mainstream with all digital 35mm sound formats.

"All release prints will have a single photographic sound track that will play on every standard sound reproducer the world over. Paramount does not contemplate the release of any pictures with either a separate or four-track magnetic film. Further, Paramount does not contemplate releasing any prints having the Fox-Eastman narrow sprocket holes."
"PESPECT-A SOUND will expand music to multiple loudspeakers and control the direction of the sound source when and as it is required for dramatic effectiveness. Paramount suggests this type of sound for those exhibitors who desire multi-horn reproduction and who wish to fill the theater with sound. The present experience indicates that stereophonic sound is of questionable value in the smaller theaters. It may add to the effectiveness in large theaters with very large screens. The decision as to its use rests with the exhibitor. In selecting Perspect-a-Sound for VistaVision pictures, Paramount is moving toward standardization. It is our hope that we can gain complete compatibility with M.G.M., Warners and others."
The VistaVision process did not introduce any modifications to the everyday 35mm exhibition print. It was merely a capture process to preserve the optical sharpness and contrast of the original negatives to produce better quality prints. It was processed by Technicolor and optically reduced directly from the negative to the Technicolor matrix which in turn was used to stamp out the release print by the imbibition process.

This gave a wider aspect ratio of 1.5:1 versus the conventional 1.37:1 Academy ratio, and a much larger image area. In order to satisfy all theaters with all screen sizes, VistaVision films were shot in such a way that they could be shown in one of three recommended aspect ratios: 1.66:1, 1.85:1 and 2.00:1.

Loren L. Ryder, chief engineer at Paramount, expressed four general reasons why he thought Paramount's VistaVision would be the forerunner of widescreen projection in most theaters:

  1. VistaVision could be shown at widescreen aspect ratios between 1.66 to 2.00:1.
  2. VistaVision could be (and most often was) further printed down to standard vertical 35mm reels keeping its 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio, which meant exhibitors did not need to purchase additional projection equipment, unlike CinemaScope.
  3. VistaVision did not cut down the number of seats in any theater (such as Cinerama and CinemaScope).
  4. VistaVision allowed patrons to see more and therefore gain more enjoyment out of a feature.
After months of trade screenings, Paramount introduced VistaVision to the public at Radio City Music Hall on October 14, 1954, with their first film shot in the process, "White Christmas".

"White Christmas", "Strategic Air Command", "To Catch a Thief" and "The Battle of the River Plate" had very limited (two or three) prints struck in the 8-perf VistaVision format in which they were shot. Although the clarity of these 8-perf prints was striking, they were used only for premiere or preview engagements between 1954 and 1956 and required special projection equipment. This exhibition process was impractical because for the footage to travel through a projector at the normal 24 frames per second, the film had to roll at 3 feet per second, double the speed of 35 mm film and causing many technical and mechanical problems. Aside from these prints all other VistaVision films were shown in the conventional 4-perf format, as planned.

Alfred Hitchcock used VistaVision for many of his films in the 1950s. However, by the late 1950s with the introduction of finer-grained color stocks and the disadvantage of shooting twice as much negative stock, VistaVision became obsolete. Paramount dropped the format after only seven years, although for another forty years the format was used for high resolution special effects sequences. Less expensive anamorphic systems such as Panavision and the more expensive 70 mm format became standard during the later 1950s and 1960s.

List of all Films Shot in VistaVision


19 Apr 2011


Going to the movies today is more exciting and involving than ever before, thanks in large part to a continuing effort to improve film sound undertaken by Dolby Laboratories in the early 1970s. Indeed, the history of cinema sound over the past two decades closely mirrors the history of Dolby film sound technologies.

Optical soundtracks

The photographic, or “optical,” soundtrack was the first method of putting sound on film. Today it remains the standard, in both analog and digital forms. The classic analog optical soundtrack consists of an opaque area adjacent to the picture containing narrow, clear tracks that vary in width according to variations in the sound. As the film is played, a beam of light from an exciter lamp or LED in the projector’s soundhead shines through the moving tracks. Variations in the width of the clear tracks cause a varying amount of light to fall on a solar cell, which converts the light to a similarly varying electrical signal. That signal is amplified and ultimately converted to sound by loudspeakers in the auditorium.

Economy, simplicity, and durability are among the advantages that have contributed to optical sound’s universal acceptance. The soundtrack is printed photographically on the film at the same time as the picture and can last just as long, which— with care—can be a long time indeed. And the optical soundhead within the projector is itself economical and easily maintained.

Success gets in the way of progress

Motion pictures with sound were first shown to significant numbers of moviegoers in the late 1920s. Within a few years, many thousands of theatres were equipped to show “talking pictures” with optical soundtracks.
This phenomenally rapid acceptance of a new, sophisticated technology was not without drawbacks, however. Equipment was installed in cinemas so rapidly that there was no time to take advantage of the improvements that occurred almost daily. A good example is loudspeaker design. The first cinema loudspeakers had very poor high-frequency response. Speakers with superior response became available within just a few years, but there was no time to retrofit the original systems with new units.

Engineers were too busy equipping other cinemas with their first sound installations. This caused a dilemma for soundtrack recordists. Should the tracks be recorded to take advantage of the improved speakers, or should they be prepared to sound best on the many older installations already in place? Given that it was impractical to release two versions of a given title, the only alternative was to tailor soundtracks to the older speakers. The result was to ignore the improved high frequency response of the newer, better units.

To forestall compatibility problems, in the late 1930s a de facto standardization set in, the cinema playback response that today is called the “Academy” characteristic. Cinema owners knew what to expect from
the films, and therefore what equipment to install. Directors and sound recordists knew what to expect from cinema sound systems, and thus what kind of soundtracks to prepare. The result was a system of sound recording and playback that made it possible for just about any film to sound acceptable in any cinema in the world. The problem was that the system lacked the flexibility to incorporate improvements beyond the limitations that existed in the 1930s.

Magnetic striping and multichannel sound

In the early 1950s, as the film industry sought to woo viewers away from their fascinating new television sets, a new method of putting sound on film was introduced. After the picture was printed, narrow stripes of
iron oxide material (similar to the coating on magnetic recording tape) were applied to the release print. The sound was then recorded on the magnetic stripes in real time. In the cinema, magnetic prints would be played back on projectors equipped with magnetic heads similar to those on a tape recorder, mounted in a special soundhead assembly called a “penthouse.”

Magnetic sound was a significant step forward, and at its best provided much-improved fidelity over the conventional optical soundtrack. It also enabled the first multichannel sound reproduction, dubbed “stereophonic sound,” ever heard by the public. The voice of an actor appearing to the left, center, or right of the picture could be heard coming from speakers located at the left, center, or right of the new wide screens also being introduced at this time. Music took on a new dimension of realism, and special sound effects could emanate from the rear or sides of the cinema. The two main magnetic systems adopted were the four-track 35 mm CinemaScope system, introduced with The Robe, and the six-track 70 mm Todd-AO, first used for Oklahoma!

Magnetic falls into disuse

Magnetic sound was widely adopted in the 1950s. By the 1970s, however, when the film industry experienced an overall decline, the expense of magnetic release prints, their comparatively short life compared to optical prints, and the high cost of maintaining the playback equipment led to a massive reduction in the number of magnetic releases and cinemas capable of playing them. Magnetic sound came to be reserved for only a handful of first-run engagements of “big” releases each year. By the mid-1970s, then, movie-goers were again hearing low-fidelity, mono optical releases most of the time, with only an occasional multitrack stereo magnetic release. Ironically, just as the industry was reverting to mono optical, more and more moviegoers were enjoying better sound at home over superior hi-fi stereo systems.

Dolby gets involved

By the late 1980s, the situation that prevailed in the mid-1970s had completely changed. Thanks to new technology and a turnaround in the financial decline of the industry, almost all major titles by that time were being released with wide-range multichannel stereo soundtracks, as is the case today. The breakthrough was the development by Dolby Laboratories of a highly practical 35 mm stereo optical release print format originally identified as Dolby Stereo. In the space allotted to the conventional mono optical soundtrack are two soundtracks that not only carry left and right information as in home stereo sound, but are also encoded with a third center screen channel and—most notably—a fourth surround channel for ambient sound and special effects.

This format not only enabled stereo sound from optical soundtracks, but higher-quality sound as well. Various techniques were applied to the soundtrack during both recording and playback to improve fidelity.
Foremost among these was Dolby A-type noise reduction to lower the hissing and popping associated with optical soundtracks, and loudspeaker equalization to adjust the cinema sound system to a standard
response curve.

As a result, stereo optical prints could be reproduced in cinemas installing Dolby cinema processors with far wider frequency response and much lower distortion than conventional soundtracks. In fact, the Dolby optical format led to a new worldwide playback standard (ISO 2969) for wide-range stereo prints.
An important advantage of the Dolby optical format was that the soundtracks were printed simultaneously with the picture, just like mono prints. Thus four-channel stereo optical release prints cost no more to make than mono prints, and far less than magnetic prints. In addition, conversion to stereo optical proved relatively simple, and once the equipment was installed, very little maintenance was required. The result was multichannel capability equaling that of four-track magnetic 35 mm (which soon became obsolete), with consistently higher fidelity, greater reliability, and far lower cost.

The next step: Dolby SR

In 1986, Dolby Laboratories introduced a new professional recording process called Dolby SR (spectral recording). Like Dolby noise reduction, it was a mirror-image, encode-decode system used both when a soundtrack is recorded and when it is played back. It provided more than twice the noise reduction of Dolby A-type, and, moreover, permitted loud sounds with wider frequency response and lower distortion.
The 35mm optical soundtracks treated with Dolby SR instead of Dolby A-type not only sounded superb in cinemas equipped with new SR processors, but also played back satisfactorily in all cinemas. This led to the situation today, whereby the analog soundtracks on virtually all prints are Dolby SR tracks.

The digital age begins

The next film sound development from Dolby Laboratories was Dolby Digital, introduced in 1992. Dolby Digital puts a six-channel digital optical soundtrack in addition to a four-channel SR analog track on 35 mm prints. This format is yet another significant step forward in film sound, providing independent left, center, right, left surround, and right surround channels, plus a sixth channel for bass effects. In addition to its six-channel capability, Dolby Digital provides extraordinary dynamic capability, wide frequency range, low distortion, and relative immunity to wear. Its combination of high quality, reliability, and practicality has been proved in cinemas around the world, and today it is the most popular digital format, with the most releases, and the most cinemas worldwide equipped to play them. As with previous Dolby developments, Dolby Digital did not make existing cinema installations obsolete. Prints can play conventionally in any cinema, while the digital track can be reproduced in cinemas with Dolby Digital soundtrack readers and decoders.

Dolby Digital Surround EX

The newest Dolby format, Dolby Digital Surround EX, was introduced in 1999, and adds a third surround channel to the Dolby Digital format. Enabling improved realism, more precise sound placement, and exciting
special effects, the third channel is reproduced by rear-wall surround speakers, while the left and right surround channels are reproduced by speakers on the side walls. As with all other Dolby soundtrack improvements, Dolby Digital Surround EX is backwards-compatible, with prints playable in all Dolby Digital cinemas, whether or not equipped to decode the additional surround track. To find films that use the new format and cinemas in your area equipped to play it, visit www.dolby.com/movies.

Making films sound better

Film soundtracks encoded with Dolby technologies, and the equipment for playing them, are only links in a chain that extends from the original location, through the dubbing theatre, to the processing laboratory, and
finally into the cinema. Developments like Dolby SR and Dolby Digital ensure that the soundtrack itself remains one of the strongest links. But the extreme fidelity of the latest Dolby formats can reveal the quality of each step in the recording, mixing, and dubbing processes, and this has necessitated new approaches to soundtrack production. Admittedly, the results can vary—the final reproduced soundtrack can be no better than the elements it comprises—but Dolby film sound at its best means not only better sound quality, but sound in the theatre that consistently realizes the director’s original intentions.

While Dolby Laboratories’ involvement with film sound first achieved wide recognition with the spectacular audio effects of such films as Star Wars, it has long since come to mean more than just special or dramatic effects. The objective is high-quality sound reproduction overall— from the dialogue and the score to the sound design and effects. Dolby technology is a means, not an end. It can be likened to an artist’s palette that provides the director with a full range of colors, where before there were but a few. Above all, Dolby formats have been developed to enhance that very special experience of going to the movies.

18 Apr 2011

MoMA´s Nitrate Facility

"AMERICAN PICKERS" Season 2 Episode 4: Smooth Operators

In my recent visit to the States, I came accross this episode of what to me was an unknown series: American Pickers. This particular episode (#4 from season 2) features the two presenters running into a woman (Michelle) who is sitting on a warehouse full of projection equipment.

Source of picture: coolandcollected.com
The equipment used to belong to her father, who passed away on 2010. His name was Bill Goff.  Michelle has contacted the guys over at Cinema Treasures where she placed an Ad and left her contact information, in case anyone is interested.

16 Apr 2011

12 Apr 2011


The stills shown in the previous post belong to the soviet film "Первый день мира" from 1959. Huge debt of gratitude to the scholars at Slavcin-L, who identified it. In the western world, the film seems to have been released under two titles: "The Day the War Ended" and "The First Day of Peace" which is the correct translation of the title. It was released on the 28th of January, 1961 in New York City, hence, some sites show it as a 1961 film.

You can find all information for the film, including cast and crew, opening dates and stills in the following links:


Here´s all the information I have of one 1,500ft long (approx) reel of film that I have recently purchased.
  • It is a #3 reel from a feature.
  • Black and white.
  • Dialogues are in Russian.
  • (Subtitled in Spanish)
  • Triacetate base.
  • Mono sound.
  • Stock seems to be Gevaert from Belgium, copied from Kodak stock (date code: 2 triangles, most likely 1941).
  • Label on the can reads Sovexportfilm, with no markings on it except for a "3" that I assume belongs to the reel # and a "Исп" which I assume is short for Испанский (Spanish), which leads me to believe that it was subtitled in the USSR.

"Vivíamos en la misma calle en Leningrado"
(We used to live on the same street in Leningrad)

"Pero en la guerra me persuadí..."
(But during the war, I was persuaded that...)

"A su salud, Mayor."
(To your health, Major)

Any and all help will be greatly apreciated.

11 Apr 2011

75 Abandoned Theaters From Around The USA

Compiled by Matt Stopera for Buzzfeed.com

(Click on title to access the entire story)


Located at 67 Webster Street, North Tonawanda, (NY 14120 - (716)692-2413), it has been "Entertaining Our Community For Generations."

Billed as the "Showplace of the Tonawandas", the Riviera Theatre was built during the year 1926, by the Yellen Family. The architects Leon H. Lempart and Son drew the plans, which were patterned after the Italian Renaissance. The interior artwork was painted at the Rochester Studio of Willard M. Lusk, by Ferdinand Kebely.

The Wurlitzer Organ to be installed in the new Theatre, Opus 1524 was shipped from the Wurlitzer Factory on November 19, 1926. Listed as a Model 235 Special, the organ differed from a standard 3 manual 11 rank Model 235, by substituting an Oboe Horn rank of pipes from the standard Salicional pipes usually found on this model. Other differences included the omission of the standard remote Piano, and a 5 H.P. blower instead of the 7-1/2 H.P. The console was painted and decorated to harmonize with the Theatre’s interior, by Wurlitzer’s Band Organ Artist.

Opening night, Thursday, December 30, 1926 of the New RIVERA (as it was spelled then) was a ‘gala event’ in the Tonawandas. Advance reservations for opening night cost $1.00. Present on this special evening, were the Mayors of both Tonawandas. From the stage, Mayor James P. Mackenzie of North Tonawanda, praised the President of the Ownership Corporation of the Theatre, Henry Henshel, and the Theatre’s Manager, James J. Kelly. Messages of Congratulation of the Grand Opening were received from Governor Alfred E. Smith, and famous movie producer Cecil B. Demille.

Featured on the screen, were the movies "Upstage" starring Norma Shearer, "The Mona Lisa", in Technicolor, a short comedy, and the newsreel. Organist Fred Meyer accompanied the films and soloed at the Mighty Wurlitzer. The stage featured vaudeville and musical events, as well.

During the depression years, the theatre became a Shea’s Theatre, and the name was changed from "New Rivera" to "Shea’s Riviera". The organ was extensively used for the first seven years, and featured organists Al Bollington, "Dusty" Rhodes, Jack Ward and Art Melgier.

In the early 1930’s use of the organ was discontinued as a regular program feature, and heard thereafter only on special occasions. Time and lack of maintenance took its toll on the instrument. When Mr. Carlton Finch and his father Harry obtained an OK from the theatre’s management to restore the organ in 1944, only part of the great manual would play.

There followed months of hard labor, cleaning magnets, removing fallen plaster from organ pipes, replacing missing and damaged pipes, and cleaning of electrical contacts. On "D" day 1944 the organ was in good enough shape for organist Carlton to celebrate the event by giving the first public concert at the Riviera in at least 10 years.

Although the Finchs continued restoration and maintenance on the organ, the public did not hear the organ again until the Riviera’s management introduced "teenage dance parties’ on the Theatre’s stage with dance music supplied by Carlton at the Mighty Wurlitzer. The dance parties did not last for long, and upon their departure in the early 1950’s, the organ again became silent, except for weekly "off hour" practice sessions by Carlton.

It was not heard again until March 18, 1962, when the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Enthusiasts sponsored a concert featuring Carlton on the Mighty Wurlitzer. The theatre organ club thereafter held one or two annual concerts at the Riviera, usually on Sunday morning right up to regular matinee show time. The theatre admission was charged at the box office for these concerts, which also entitled the members to stay and see the regular show.

On July 3, 1964, the Riviera Wurlitzer was spotlighted in a special concert, with artist Jack Ward at the console. The concert started at midnight and was one of a series that was held on the Niagara Frontier in 1964.

The theatre organ club continued to sponsor one or two "Sunday Morning" concerts per year for the next few years.

During this time the Riviera became part of the Dipson Theatre chain, and with this change, brought a manager whom himself was an organ enthusiast. Carlton and Harry Finch, who kept the organ alive and active since 1944, requested the club’s help to do a more extensive restoration. William Hatzenbuhler, acknowledged organ builder and technician in this area, along with club volunteers adopted the restoration project. Manager, Frank Guzzetta, assured fullest cooperation.

June 26, 1967 saw a drastic departure from the usual "Sunday Morning" club organ concerts at the "Riv". For this concert, the theatre was rented on a weekday evening, a name artist from out-of-town was hired to play, and the Riviera’s doors were opened to the public for the event. The club was barely able to meet expenses-plus, but this concert set the pattern for the many successful monthly concerts, as we know them today. By 1969 these public concerts were heard at the Riviera 12 to 14 times yearly, with frequent use of the organ for special events as well.

During this time the organ itself saw improvements, as well as expansion. The dormant elevator was repaired and once again the console rose in splendor from its pit. Various instruments, and pipes within the organ began to sound forth. A sheet of board found blocking the sound from the pipe loft was removed; why it was place there, and by whom, remained a mystery.

Approximately June 15, 1970 the Riviera changed from a Dipson Theatre, and was sold to MDA Associates. The theatre operated under MDA until April 5, 1971 when the theatre closed suddenly. The future of the Riviera was overcast; it went up for auction on August 12, 1971, when it was reacquired by Smith Properties (owned by Max Yellen). The Riviera remained closed for a year, until it was acquired by MACDOP Enterprises and reopened April 27, 1972 with North Tonawanda’s mayor present for the opening.

During the one-year closure of the Theatre, however, the monthly organ concerts continued as usual, the theatre being opened for one night a month. Work on the organ also continued. The Wurlitzer organ from the Kensington Theatre in Buffalo was donated to the Riviera Theatre project in 1970, and although that organ had been badly damaged by flood and vandalism, many of the parts of this organ were eventually incorporated into the "Riv" organ. The club purchased a brand new set of Post Horn pipes for the organ, which were playing by the autumn of 1971. New modern electrical relays and switches were purchased by the club to compliment the old existing equipment. This would allow planned expansion of the organ’s original 11 ranks of pipes.

To help finance the Riviera’s secure future, the club made an offer to purchase the Wurlitzer for a substantial amount, along with a provision to have the instrument remain in the theatre. This offer was eventually accepted, the N.F.T.O.S. now owned the organ and at least could assure its future.

The club enhanced the theatre itself with the purchase of a huge crystal chandelier that formerly graced the Genesee Theatre in Buffalo. Installed in the Riviera’s main dome in January 1974, the chandelier measured 10 feet in diameter, 14 feet high, contained 15,000 French crystals and had 3 circuits of 35 bulbs each. A smaller chandelier that came from the Park Lane Restaurant of Buffalo was installed in the Riviera’s outer lobby at the same time. Also, added to the stage equipment was a scenic backdrop donated from the Bradford (PA) Theatre. A very historic grand piano was also acquired from the same theatre at the same time. This piano was to be used for stage presentations. It should be noted that this instrument is separate from the other piano already connected to the organ.

Meanwhile, the enlargement and restoration of the Wurlitzer by club members continued. As mentioned, a player piano was acquired and converted to play remotely, from the organ’s console. Additional organ parts and pipes were donated to the Riviera project from Buffalo’s Century Theatre and installed by the work crew. The console itself received a facelift all of the artwork and paint was professionally done by an artist. The stop tablets were rearranged, and many new one were added. Most of this work was done in 1974. By 1975 the organ had grown to 16 ranks of pipes.

The theatre ran a full-length silent 1920’s movie, "Wings" for a 10-day period with organ accompaniment by Art Melgier in February of 1973. Two commercial recordings were made on the "Riv’s" Wurlitzer by artist Frank Olsen by 1975. On December 15, 1976 the 50th anniversary of the Theatre’s first opening was celebrated in concert by artist Frank Olsen.

The Riviera Theatre was placed on the Register of Historic Landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior – April 22, 1980 – but the future of the building was somewhat in doubt. A "Save the Riviera" benefit concert was held in June of 1981.

The theatre was then acquired in early 1982 by SALED Properties, with the provision that the Wurlitzer Organ be a part of the sale of the building. The organ club responded, in the interest of keeping the theatre alive, and sold the organ back to the new owners. The Riviera also became the headquarters for a chain known as Key Theatres under this new ownership. In August of 1986, two of the Key Theatre in this area introduced live comedy on stage, on Saturday nights before the regular movie. The Riviera had the added feature of providing an organ interlude, featuring theatre organist Eddie Baker, prior to the stage comedy presentations. This special is quite popular among the patron right up to the present time. (Note: this was written in 1989, the theatre does not present comedy on Saturday evenings any longer).

The Mighty Wurlitzer has grown to 20 ranks of pipes in the meantime, and work on the instrument continues constantly. Unseen refinements are being accomplished, in off-hours, by the diligent work crew. The work on a pipe organ continues constantly, with no end in sight these instrument need constant attention and tuning. The only reward for those that constantly toil with these "beasts" is "that monthly concert, when the organ sings back its praises"

Early in 1988, the Riviera was once again put up for sale, along with its Mighty Wurlitzer. The organ club (Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society) decided an attempt should be made to purchase the theatre, by the club itself, and on August 12, 1988 a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was reached with the owners. In the next few months a fund raising drive was undertaken in the Tonawandas and Western New York. Even the City of North Tonawanda itself attracted widespread interest and help. On February 14, 1989 the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society (N.F.T.O.S.) closed the deal to purchase the Riviera and its Wurlitzer. Every effort of the club, city and Western New York is geared towards the goal of preserving the Riviera and its heritage, and to turn this fine theatre into a "Performing Arts Center of the Tonawanda".

The Riviera’s Mighty Wurlitzer has provided more entertainment consistently in its original setting than most other theatre organs, nationwide. Many top name artists, in this country, have performed here in hundreds of concerts over the past 35 years. The Riviera’s organ has even been acclaimed internationally by artist appearances from Europe, Australia, Britain and South America. Several popular organists played their ‘first’ public concert at the Riviera Theatre. The organ has been televised on several occasions, and several commercial recordings have been made on it. Indeed the Riviera organ is well known here and abroad.

The 80 year history of the Riviera Theatre has indeed been very interesting and frightful on a couple of occasions. Fortunately, the wrecking ball was evaded, as was the fate of over 30 other theatres in Western New York. The Riviera and the Shea’s Buffalo are the only standing examples of the movie palaces and their original "Mighty Pipe Organs" in an area which once boasted over 40 theatres with organs. Riviera Theatre and Organ Preservation Society – that many more successful chapters of the Riviera’s history will be written in years to come, and that this heritage may be shared for many future generations.

In 1999 RTOPS replaced the old Wurlitzer pneumatic relay with an Artisan solid-state relay. The theatre has been the product of extensive restoration and renovation since 1991. This work has been carried out by many dedicated volunteers who donate many hours of their time.

For most shows at the Riviera you can hear one of our Staff Organists providing pre-show music for your enjoyment.

Nightshift: Projectionist Joe Detor

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 6:12 AM Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2008, 11:38 AM

By Ngoc Huynh, The Post-Standard

Joe Detor, 79, is the projectionist at the Palace Theatre in Syracuse.


"I've been a projectionist since 1945. I worked at the Globe on Kirkpatrick, Acme on Butternut and Cameo on Geddes. I've worked at The Palace since 1960."


"I got along with her really good."


"Them days, movies were 25 cents. We used to go all the time. You had no TV, and you didn't have anything else to do."


"I started when I was 16 years old. The boss, who also owned the theater, said, 'We need some help,' and that's how I got the job."


"I've always worked part-time at the theater. I retired from Crouse-Hinds, part of Cooper Industries. I worked there for 43 years until I retired in'91."


"My favorite movie of all time is 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' We played it at The Palace for about 13 weeks."


"Gone With the Wind"
"Doctor Zhivago"
"The Sound of Music"
"My Fair Lady"


"I'm single."

"I live in East Syracuse."

"I served in the Army in Korea for 13 months."

"I like baseball. I'm a Yankee fan. I'm going to New York City next month to see the Yankees play the Royals."

10 Apr 2011


Spain - Original Engagement

Spain - Original Engagement

Spain - Original Engagement

Germany - Original Engagement

Germany - Original Engagement

USA - 1965 Rerelease

USA - 1968 Rerelease

France - Original Engagement

Italy - Original Engagement

Italy - Original Engagement


I wish to thank everyone for their help. Everyone that left a comment on the post or emailed back. The film is indeed "The Shoes of the Fisherman" from 1968, and all fragments belong to the same film. My admiration goes to all those who guessed Oskar Werner, Sir Laurence Olivier and David Janssen correctly. My excitement in finally locating the title led to painstakingly capturing each frame of the samples I had from the DVD. Enjoy.

The pictures that follow show frames from several 70mm fragments that I have located recently. I don´t know if they belong to the same reel of a film or not. Sadly no head or tails, that is why I seek help identifying the name of the feature.

I have reason to believe that the following 2 fragments do not belong to the same film as the precious ones. I suspect that the man sitting on the left in the first example, and the one standing on the right in the second one, is none other than Anthony Quinn.

Any help will be greatly apreciated.

8 Apr 2011

Where did all the projectionists go?

Philippe Noiret in ‘Cinema Paradiso’
A quiet revolution is going on behind your back at the cinema. Old-style projectors are making way for spanking new hard drives. But is this a good or a bad thing? David Jenkins clambers over the back row to find out.

Buster Keaton in ‘Sherlock Jr’
Think of a film projectionist, and what comes to mind? Is it an image of a dumpy, bearded bloke in an old waistcoat and beret? Does he share a grubby attic space with tatty old film posters? Does he wind a battered 35mm print on to a spool and monitor his work through a shaft of light which cuts through the dust of the auditorium? Think of Philippe Noiret in ‘Cinema Paradiso’, Buster Keaton in ‘Sherlock Jr’, or Robert Prosky in ‘Last Action Hero’… Well, in reality, the image you should have in mind is of a giant USB stick.

Why? Because projectionists as we imagine them are on the verge of extinction. This is down to big changes in the world of exhibition: hulking hard drives – to which films are sent digitally – are being installed in cinemas, while tactile, scratchy, buzzing celluloid film prints are being tossed on the scrapheap.

We spoke to a spokesperson for Odeon who explains that the chain is in the middle of replacing 35mm projectors at all its 110 sites across the country with digital projectors. At the Cineworld chain, a projectionist tells us that the switch-over is just as rapid. Phil Clapp of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association explains the difference: ‘While a 35mm projector is a mechanical device with moving parts, a digital projector – aside from the lamp – is very much a piece of IT. Projectionists who have been able to strip down and reassemble a 35mm projector with their eyes closed are suddenly being presented with a box and an on-off switch.’

The roots of the digital takeover can be traced back to 2005, when 240 digital projectors were given to UK cinemas on the back of the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network initiative. The hope was that on the back of that initial flurry, the training wheels could come off and cinemas would embrace the digital revolution. They didn’t. The momentum of change was slow. Now, though, the digital boom has finally happened, partly fuelled by the spiralling number of 3D titles, which can’t be projected on old equipment.

David Hancock of industry website Screen Digest illustrates the speed of change. ‘In 2009 there were 650 digital screens in the UK. By 2010, there were 1,400, with 1,080 of them enabled for 3D. In 2010, 416 films were released wholly or partly on digital prints in the UK, which is 80 per cent of all releases. This is by far the highest number in the world. It compares to 20 per cent in France and 35 per cent in the Netherlands.’

This means that gone are the days when a tired old print starts to show up scratches and other signs of wear and tear. Audiences will barely notice the difference: every film will look like new. The real effect on film-going may be more long-term as cinemas take advantage of cheaper technology to offer a more flexible, varied programme or find it difficult to show certain films, mostly archive titles, which have not been transferred to digital.

It’s easy to romanticise the end of 35mm projection. According to Clapp, a lot of veteran projectionists have taken this revolution as a cue to retire. Celluloid purists remain, but hard economics is their biggest stumbling block. Digitisation calls for fewer people in the projection box, so cinemas can switch to digital and reduce their overheads. Yet Clapp is still optimistic that a role exists for projectionists in a post-35mm world.

Robert Prosky in ‘Last Action Hero’

 ‘We still need people to make sure films are projected correctly, at the right time and on the right screen. But they will take on other roles. Digital allows cinemas to host one-off events like screenings of live opera or theatre, and these events have their own demands on staff.’

Sam Clements is a young projectionist at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton who, by necessity, has recently begun dividing his time between projecting and working for the cinema’s marketing team. He is observing from the inside as the craft of 35mm projection fades away. ‘I learned how to lace and maintain a 35mm projector on the job over about ten weeks,’ he says. ‘Now, because we’re getting fewer and fewer prints through the door, the chance to pass on this knowledge is disappearing.’

Others, such as Peter Howden, projectionist and programmer for the Rio in Dalston, take a less nostalgic view. ‘I don’t think 35mm projection was ever an art. It’s more a routine job with an opportunity to produce an okay presentation standard. There’s no personal signature and only the occasional bell and whistle. The same, I think, applies to digital presentation.’

Of course, making a film and seeing it projected in 35mm is sometimes a creative consideration. As recently as 2009, Quentin Tarantino asked that ‘Inglourious Basterds’ only be projected from ‘real’ prints. ‘That was a tough one,’ says Clements. ‘It’s about three hours long, so that’s nine reels. I think that’s the point where the fun gets sucked out of it. And the prints are heavy: moving it from one screen to another was never a one-man job.’

That said, Clements worries that cinemas will lose sight of their heritage. ‘From working at the Ritzy I’ve had the chance to make up some amazing old films. Recently I had original prints of Tarkovsky’s “Mirror” and “Stalker”. They had frames missing where something may have gone wrong during playback, or a projectionist had nabbed a still for their collection. For me, it’s amazing to hold the print and think that it was being screened before I was born. These films have their own history, and that’s something you can never replicate with digital.’

The rise of digital may mean that cinemas can offer a more varied programme without having to worry about the costs of calling in prints when a film may only have a limited audience or run. And with no need for a big projection booth, the space needed to build a cinema will shrink. Edward Fletcher of film distribution company Soda Pictures speculates on the future. ‘I predict that in the next few years there will be an increase in smaller, high street cinemas that will show a good mix of mainstream and indie films.’

But don’t expect to bump into many staff, adds Fletcher. ‘In place of the projectionist, you could have one person in a business park in Stevenage sat in front of a bank of screens. That person could programme their entire group of cinemas by doing some drag-and-drops on a laptop.’

So, the next time you’re in a cinema, take a look over your shoulder at that small window and bright column of light shining out of it. If you see someone in there, give them a wave. They may not be around for much longer.
SOURCE: TimeOut London

6 Apr 2011


How Do They Do That - British Film Institute National Archive

How Psycho changed cinema

By Stephen Robb for BBC News

It's 50 years since Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was unleashed on a soon-to-be-terrified world. Even if you've never seen the film you've probably been exposed to its extensive influence.

Alfred Hitchcock had made his name as the "master of suspense" with brilliant, glossy thrillers like Rear Window and North by Northwest, but Psycho was altogether different - the like of which most cinema-goers had never seen.

With its shocking bursts of violence and provocative sexual explicitness, Psycho tested the strict censorship boundaries of the day as well as audiences' mettle - and it gave Hitchcock the biggest hit of his career.

Awakened to the box office potential of violence and sex, mainstream filmmakers followed suit. Here is how Psycho changed cinema:


The 45-second shower murder in Psycho is possibly the most famous scene in cinema history.

David Thomson, author of The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder, has said it still ranks "legitimately among the most violent scenes ever shot for an American film". According to the book Story of the Scene, by Roger Clarke, it "changed cinema forever".

For the film's first three-quarters of an hour the audience has followed Janet Leigh's Marion Crane, building engagement with the film's supposed central character.

Then in an electrifyingly brutal scene, as Marion readies herself for bed with a shower in the decrepit Bates Motel, she is hacked to death by a barely-glimpsed old woman.


Most of the film was shot quickly with a crew from television, but the 70-plus shots for this 45-second scene took a week to film

To get the scene past the censors Hitchcock claimed the knife never touched the victim, but studies have since suggested it does

Chocolate sauce was used for blood, and the hand holding the knife in some shots is Hitchcock's

Janet Leigh said she avoided taking showers for the rest of her life after filming Psycho

Source: Story of the Scene by Roger Clarke

"They [audiences] had never seen anything quite like it before - the total shock of killing off a lead character a third of the way in, and just the complete feeling of disorientation," says Michael Brooke, Screenonline curator at the British Film Institute.

Psycho was filmed in black and white - unusual for Hitchcock by that stage of his career - partly to cut costs, but also to manage the graphicness of this scene. Hitchcock knew he would not get shots of red blood splattering the wall and floor past the censors of the time.

"The shower scene in colour in 1960 would have just been unshowable," says Mr Brooke.

Psycho "opened the floodgates" for screen violence, says Mr Brooke, paving the way for the slow-motion bloodshed of Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch in the late 60s, up to today's torture porn of Hostel and the Saw films.

Though "watching the film, you think it's a lot more graphically violent than it actually is".

It is a mark of the shift in levels of violence in cinema that Psycho, given an adults-only "X" certificate in the UK in 1960, now carries a relatively tame "15" rating.


Arguably the film's most appealing character is Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, the awkward, softly-spoken young man resignedly running the declining family motel and caring for his abusive, invalid mother.

After Leigh's slaughter, the film switches to Bates' point of view and the audience is invited to sympathise with his agonising dilemma over concealing his mother's horrific crime.

"There is that scene just after the shower murder when the car is sinking into the swamp and it pauses momentarily," says Mr Brooke, "and in a weird kind of way you almost want it to carry on sinking. You don't want him to be discovered even though he is covering up this hideous murder."

Mummy's boy - Bates' character was meant to draw viewers' sympathy

The effect was to toy with audiences' sympathies in a way mainstream thrillers hadn't done before.

Psycho is considered the first modern horror film and credited with launching the "slasher" sub-genre. But Paul Duncan, author of The Pocket Essential Alfred Hitchcock, argues its greatest legacy is the shifting point of view that became a common device of the slashers.

Most of Hitchcock's peers worked in the "third person", positioning their camera as a detached, neutral observer of the film's events, says Mr Duncan, whereas Hitchcock's "first person" camera allied his audience inescapably to key characters.

"That, I think, is probably the most copied aspect of Hitchcock's movies," he says.

John Carpenter's 1978 film Halloween, whose considerable debt to Psycho is emphasised by the presence of Leigh's daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead role, is a "very good example of point of view camera being used brilliantly", he adds.

"Don't give away the ending - it's the only one we have! " Psycho promotional slogan

Having switched the film's point of view to Norman, Hitchcock has manoeuvred his audience exactly where he wants them for the film's shattering, shock twist.

"With all the information you are given you believe him to be innocent, and you identify with his crisis," says Mr Duncan.


The film opens on the skyline of Phoenix, Arizona, on a hot December day, the camera panning lazily across the rooftops before casually zooming in through a window to a hotel room where - unmistakably - an underwear-clad Leigh and shirtless John Gavin have made love moments earlier.


To keep secret the film's final twist, Psycho was not screened for critics or cinema-owners before release

Unusually for the time, cast and crew had been made to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing them speaking about the film

No-one was allowed into the cinema once the film had started - enforced by uniformed guards, this was an extraordinary measure in an era when people were used to coming and going during theatres' continuous programmes

These first moments are almost a statement of intent from Hitchcock. "He was quite deliberately testing the waters as far as the censors were concerned with the film," says Mr Brooke.

"It took what had previously been only suggestive sexual undercurrents and made them absolutely upfront."

At that time most US studio films were constrained by the puritanical Production Code, which dated from the 1930s and restricted depictions of sex, drug use, drinking, offensive language and anything else that could "lower the moral standards of those who see it".

When he was unable to secure financing for Psycho from studios fearful of the film's potential for controversy, prompting him to put up 60% of a scaled-down budget of less than $1m himself, the director found himself with an opportunity to work outside the restrictions of the studio system and deliver an exploitation film Hitchcock-style.

The overt sexuality of the film's sightings of Leigh in her underwear, the shocking violence - even a shot of a flushing toilet - were radical in commercial cinema at the time.

And while there had usually been varying amounts of humour in Hitchcock's films, it had never before been combined with such dark, violent material as in Psycho. Today, that pioneering blend of shocks and laughs is notably evident in the films of Quentin Tarantino.


The violins wailing away during Psycho's shower murder scene have achieved the status of cultural shorthand - denoting imminent violent insanity.

Their importance to the impact of that terrifying scene is emphasised by the fact that at pre-release screenings of a cut of the film before the music was added, many viewers reacted with mild indifference.

"It was only with the second version, with the music added, that people just leapt out of their seats - especially when the shrieking violins started," says Mr Brooke.

The most memorable part of Bernard Herrmann's score has now been imitated to the point of being "one of the all-time aural cliches", he adds.

But the entire soundtrack is integral to the mood of the film, from the blast of strings over the opening credits onwards, says Mr Brooke.

Its influence can particularly be seen in films that use music to evoke a sense of menace and heighten sudden shocks, such as Jaws.

This is not the only way in which Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster, in turn massively influential itself, bears the influence of Psycho, says Mr Brooke.

"When they made Jaws, one of the stated aims was they wanted to make America's beaches as empty as American motel showers were when Psycho came out."

Psycho is re-released in the UK on 2 April. A season of films - entitled Psycho: A Classic in Context - runs at the BFI Southbank, central London, throughout April.


Below is a selection of your comments

In 1961 I was an usher at the Paramont Theater in Salem, MA and my job was to hold the crowd back for the last 15 minutes of the movie "Psycho" and we could not tell them anything about the ending.

Paul Duggan, Salem, Massachusetts

4 Apr 2011

Nitrate Film Burning

1 Apr 2011

A working life: the cinema projectionist

Kevin Markwick spent his childhood in the small-town Sussex cinema his father bought in 1964. Now he owns and runs it.

By Mark King for The Guardian, Saturday 18 September 2010
I follow Kevin Markwick along a corridor lined with boxes of popcorn to his office while he does an impression of Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. "These aren't the droids you're looking for," he recites, sounding uncannily like the late actor. Markwick is a great mimic, quoting lines from classic movies with near-perfect accuracy.

His office is much like any other, except for the constant roar of movies playing in ear-splitting Dolby Digital next door. Today, it's an early afternoon showing of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, making my chest boom as we chat happily about film.

Markwick owns the independent Picture House cinema in Uckfield, a sleepy town in East Sussex about 10 minutes from Lewes with a population of around 14,000. An hour and a quarter from London by train, Uckfield isn't exactly isolated but has a small-town feel and an anonymity to it, despite last month's flooding that brought it to national prominence.

The Picture House (not to be confused with the Picturehouse Cinemas chain) adds a lot to the town's charm. Built during the first world war, it was first used as a garrison theatre for troops stationed in the area before launching as a cinema proper in 1920.

Kevin Markwick was a baby when his father bought the Picture House in 1964, but remembers it being refurbished in 1967 to reduce the seating from 500 to 305 for comfort, and again in late 1978.

"We'd been struggling as a single-screen cinema in the late 70s," he says. "So my father converted it into two screens, which saved the business. He was great at that, he really had an eye for knowing how things would look."

By his own admission, Markwick was "terrible" at school. He failed his O-levels so did not get to study drama at college in Lewes, as he had hoped. Instead he went to London at the age of 16 and worked in the Hammersmith Odeon as a projectionist. "I was too young to be in London. I had no friends and nothing to spend my money on. I was miserable. So I moved back to Uckfield and started again at the Picture House, which I'd grown up in."

Without formal training, Markwick learned all about cinema "through osmosis". Salesman, usher, projectionist – his father taught him all he needed to know, though many of those abilities are disappearing as technology renders much of the old magic obsolete.

"I learned when we had dual projection, when each reel of film lasted 20 minutes and you had to get the next one ready while the last one finished and do the changeover seamlessly."

Film is still used, though many predict its imminent demise. We walk into the projection room for Screen One and I study the movie Inception in its raw state, a giant reel of film formed from eight smaller reels Markwick had to stitch together to create the movie.

He has had his fair share of disasters over the years, especially when he was younger. "Wrong reels, wrong films, reels in the wrong order, film that has got stuck and burned through, I've had it all," he laughs. I wonder if it will be the same for tomorrow's projectionists, who will have little more to do than press a button to start a film screening.

Markwick holds up a section of Inception (a series of stills that will be transformed into a thing of wonder when played at 24 frames a second) and tells me film has not been made from nitrate since around 1950. Before then, nitrate film often caused devastating fires; nitrate was so flammable that the film, along with the projector and projectionist, used to be cased in a giant tin box in case it caught fire.

"That's why we still call it the projection box or 'the box' today." He still gets in the box occasionally, but Markwick employs 25 staff (mostly part-time) including projectionists, leaving him with more time to manage the business.

His father died in 1994, leaving Kevin to run the cinema. "Owning your own cinema requires a heavy dose of creative thinking and second guessing what your customers might want to see. No amount of formal training is going to give you that, you have to learn on the job," he says.

This requires dedication and a certain amount of blind tenacity, according to Markwick. "Obviously any business qualification is good, but a working knowledge of exhibition and a love of movies is essential. You can start, say, front of house, and work up through the ranks for a big chain if you have the passion and natural skill. But learning the technology side will also give you an edge – not least because you can run the show if your projectionist falls ill. In my case, I think I'm good at it and there's not many things you're good at in life which you enjoy and can make money from."

At the end of the 1990s Markwick mimicked his father's ambitions by knocking out the back of the cinema and building a third screen, something that was to save the business once again. That said, the Picture House is coming off the back of the worst June and July since 1996, with average weekly admissions dropping from 2,500 to around 350, hit by a lethal combination of the World Cup, a series of rubbish films on release and hot weather.

"These things even out," he explains. "But we are vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of business and it's particularly tough if distributors get heavy-handed and demand that credit is repaid within two weeks. In most businesses you get 30 days from the point of invoice, but in the film business things are changing. It's very corporate these days."

Markwick says that in bad months "the tank empties quickly" because it costs the same to open the cinema for a handful of people as it does for a sell-out. This is perhaps why he recently applied for, and was granted, a licence to sell alcohol; he already sells the usual staples such as popcorn, soft drinks, sweets, tea and coffee. "I'd also like to find the space to open a bar/café," he says as we stand in front of the pick 'n' mix section, trying to imagine where a bar would fit into the Picture House's tiny foyer.

I visit on a Monday, which is "hold-over day", when owners and programmers decide what films will play for a week from the following Friday. Schedules are tweaked to take into account new and existing films, what played well last week and what might play well in the coming week, and whether a film needs to play once, twice or three times a day. Markwick needs to keep distributors happy too.

He receives calls from Lionsgate, Warner Bros and Sony, chatting with humour to executives who ring to ensure (in some cases insist) that their films continue to appear at the Picture House. It's a balancing act for Markwick, who needs to stick to his contractual agreements even if a film has tanked. "You get used to films dying," he says. "That's why we have multiple screens. Half the time it's knowing what to leave out."

The week I visit he's juggling Salt and The Expendables (which under-performed), Toy Story 3 and Inception (which did well), along with the forthcoming The Girl Who Played With Fire and a spare matinee slot which could see Shrek Forever After (3D) play again.

"It's difficult because you have to think about when people might want to watch a film, the age group and the particular tastes of people in Uckfield."

On the final point he has branched out to screen live events for locals, such as a live broadcast of the Traverse Theatre's Impossible Things Before Breakfast from the Edinburgh Festival and performances from Glyndebourne.

In his office I spy books such as 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey on his shelves, as well as surprises such as The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels. A book entitled Your Screenplay Sucks! betrays Markwick's creative bent. He has written and directed two movies: a feature-length film, Neil's Party, in 2005, and a 14-minute short film, Lullaby, made two years ago.

He screens Lullaby for me, which was filmed in two days and cost £30,000 to make, with funding coming from "everywhere". The short is a hugely affecting monologue from actress Haydn Gwynne on loss and grief, beautifully shot on 35mm film. At the end I'm visibly moved and notice him wiping his eyes. I ask him what was his inspiration. "It's a personal story," he says quietly. "Some of the most memorable movies ever made come from the heart."

Markwick is not afraid of the future, despite the continued onslaught from movie downloads, Blu-Ray players, video games and thousands of other industry death-knells. He has installed Dolby Digital sound, Xpand 3D, digital projectors and has enthusiastically embraced the internet, chatting to local film fans via his website as well as posting regular updates on Twitter.

"It's about reinventing ourselves, keeping the cinema up to the standard that people want so they continue to come," he says. "I might be constantly updating it, but this place is so familiar to me. It's become my home."