Following on from our successful Movie Night, we have another great evening planned.
TEST YOUR MOVIE KNOWLEDGE IN OUR CHRISTMAS COMPETITION
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1930 “PUTTING ON THE RITZ” a precursor to Roger Shone’s review of the magnificent RITZ cinema Birkenhead that will be on our website this week accompanied with lots of rare photographs. A giant of a cinema, covering more than an acre of land. Bombed FOUR times and survived!!
As the Plaza cinema, Flint celebrates eighty years this month, Roger Shone has a fascinating review of the building where he once worked.
With the help and support of many who were associated with Deeside cinemas he takes us back to the ambitious beginning of this superb cinema, along it’s roller coaster history that ended in despair and it’s closure, then the challenge taken on by it’s new owner who has turned it back to into a vibrant multi-screen cinema.
Just click on the button below to read Roger’s story of the PLAZA CINEMA FLINT.
Underwater cinematographer Mike Valantine was born in North Wales in the 1950s. At eighteen he joined the BBC in their sound department, which would come in useful later, when, apart from underwater photography he began running a recording studio called Chasing the Dragon. After taking up diving he shot, edited, wrote and directed a 35mm film called Red Sea Mermaid (1982). His photography came to the attention of director Nic Roeg, who hired him to do underwater sequences on Castaway (1986), so he left the BBC.
DE: Are expert divers usually used as doubles in a film?
MV: No, though we would put a double or a stunt person in if required. These days we train the actors so they can do as much underwater work as possible.
DE: How big is the tank at Pinewood?
MV: The underwater stage is sixty feet long, thirty foot wide and about eighteen to twenty feet deep. I helped to design this, which is painted black, so it can be lit when full of water. It is heated, so half the fear experienced by actors disappears, because they are warm. We use commercial divers to train actors on a one to one basis, and the instructor looks after them during filming.
DE: Do you work closely with the director?
MV: Sometimes. Other times I go and do it entirely on my own. In the film Grmsby (2015) we had one day where we did a number of shots without the director. The following day the director was there, got in the water and was inside the car that was sinking down.
On Basic Instinct 2 (2006) the director was shooting elsewhere, so I directed the scene where Sharon Stone was sinking in the car.
DE: Would you name a few directors you have worked with?
MV: I have worked a number of well known directors, including, Clint Eastwood on the film Hereafter (2010). He is one of the nicest guys I have worked with. He was so laid back, relaxed and professional. He always knew what he wanted. Others include George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. They all appreciate that that you are in an alien environment, and all I am trying to do is to serve them as well as the DP, and get the best shots possible that tells the story in an exciting way. Unless they are divers they don’t have the experience to know what it is like underwater. I can offer up sequences, shots and ideas, camera movements, angles and lighting. So, you go what they ask for and one step beyond. If they don’t like it, they won’t use it.
DE: How long do you usually remain underwater?
MV: We are usually an hour or so. It is rare we are more than an hour on one shot. On a sequence we may be underwater four hours a day. A lot of the time we are above water talking to to the actors and setting things up.
DE: Finally, Do some actors do underwater stunts?
MV: A number of them do. On Skyfall Daniel Craig did all his own underwater stunts, which included a fight scene under ice. Actors are trained for around a week before, with a commercial diver.
David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk
A traditional treat for the majority of Chester people was a family visit to the cinema. Managers and staff went out of their way to make certain that the visit was memorable for all the right reasons. Ticket prices were reasonable making the films to watch accessible to all. Charity toy appeals on the front page of The Cheshire Observer signalled that the season of good will was upon us. The Odeon always secured front page prominence with the Mayor of Chester’s toy appeal. A large tree in the upper foyer was placed in a grotto display and opened officially by the Mayor. Special shows of well run programmes such as The Wizard Of Oz, It’s A Wonderful Life, Santa Claus The Movie, would play to capacity audiences.
Behind the scenes, staff Christmas parties would take place after the final performance, when the entire staff would attend. Sometimes local venues such as Clemences, and Quaintways would be the venue. The Gaumont staff had the luxury of the use of the restaurant for their parties. It was traditional too that when staff were paid by the management that they were offered a small sherry and a mince pie, this of course was regarded as their Christmas bonus! Christmas was always busy at the pictures. Everyone one worked through the holiday, with the exception of Christmas day.
Architect William Riddell Glen designed the Regal Chester, which opened on 30 October 1937. Riddell was born in1885 in Hutchesontown and was a leading cinema and theatre architect. In his RIBA papers he claims that his birth was in 1884. Glen was the son of James Glen. His middle name comes from his mother’s maiden name. Her name was Margaret Riddell. Glen won a studentship at the Glasgow School of Architecture. He studied from 1900 and had an apprenticeship with a firm called Burnet, Boston and Carruthers. In 1904 he went to practice with John Archibald Campbell, while still continuing his studies for a further year. Glen commenced with independent practice in Glasgow until he served in WW 1 with the Glasgow Highlanders, rising to the rank of major and winning an MC.
In 1919 he went back to Glasgow and became a partner with Albert Victor Gardner and it became known as Gardner and Glen, with offices in Bath Street, Glasgow. They specialised in the design of atmospheric cinemas. Glen decided to move to London in 1929, and the partnership was dissolved. Glen had got himself a position with Associated British Cinemas and went to work for John Maxwell. He was forced into early retirement by illness. He continued to be a consultant for ABC.
He passed away on the 19th February 1950.
David A Ellis © chestercinemas.co.uk