SINGAPORE 60's: ANDY'S POP MUSIC INFLUENCE: ON THE MUSIC N MEMORY TRAIL IS MY OWN BLOG N ROLL PROJECT. NOSTALGIA IS PERSONAL HISTORY N PICTURES TELL STORIES. POP MUSIC NOT PILLS. ANDY YOUNG. (November, 2008). IT'S DONE WITH MUCH TIME AND LOVE.


'CLAIR' FROM O'SULLIVAN AND CARNABY STREET.

'CLAIR' FROM O'SULLIVAN AND CARNABY STREET.
A previous neighbour from the 60's talks about 'Clair' and Carnaby Street. CLIK PIX TO READ.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Movie Memory Trail: Make-Shift Cinema At The CC Part One

This story was featured on 7th December, 2014 during Brian Richmond's 90.5fm radio show, Sundays With Brian during the Reminiscing with Andy segment. 

With so many blogs and web-sites on the internet, movie-going topics are commonly discussed as senior Singaporeans tell their tales about this particular social happening.  I am no different. From about the 50s when I first started going to the cinemas I would visit the Capitol, Odeon or Cathay in town. 

Sometimes it would be the Rex near Serangoon Road, the Pavilion at Orchard Road or the Alhambra at Beach Road.   (Except for the Capitol - or what's left of it - and Rex, the rest have disappeared under urban renewal projects.)

Open Air Cinema Somapah Road from everythingeast.sg
Open-Air and Drive-Ins:

If I had missed any of the screenings in town,  I would either go to the Queen's Cinema in Geylang or the Roxy in suburban Katong in the east to watch the shows. Otherwise it's the Odeon Katong just a stone's throw away.  I had moved to Siglap in the 60s and the Katong area in Singapore included Mountbatten Road, East Coast Road and Siglap.

Make-Shift:

But I remember a movie experience I had that was different. I can never forget the film too.  It was called Jumping Jacks (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, which I saw in an open field.  An old projector was whirring away in the night sky screening this hilarious comedy with about 30 people watching the film at a Community Centre (now called Community Club) along Sims Avenue.  This CC was situated near Lorong 27 in the Geylang area.

A Sophisticated Make-Shift Cinema.
No, it wasn't one of those open-air cinemas where we had to pay 20 cents for admission, nor was it like the Drive-In Theatre at old Jurong where we sat in our cars. This make-shift cinema was in a basketball court.

Flapping In The Wind
Flapping Screen and Natural Air Conditioning:

Whenever the wind blew the screen (a large white sheet of cloth between two basketball poles) Dino and Jerry blew with it, contorting the black and white images on the sheet.  We didn't complain. The show was free.

The make-shift cinema was not as sophisticated as the one shown in the second image above, but it was fun and we really enjoyed the experience. Besides, it was natural air-conditioning as the breeze rustled the leaves around during the cool evening.  There were no chairs to sit on and no walls to surround the area. We stood for more than an hour. Don't forget there were reel changes which took a while.
Iconic Jailhouse Scene.

Another movie I saw at the same venue was Jailhouse Rock (1957) famous for its iconic dance scene where Elvis Presley performed the rock song with prisoners dressed in Zebra-Ts. 

*Warden threw a party in the county-jail
The prison band was there and they began to wail
The band was jumpin' and the joint began to swing
You shoulda heard those knocked out jailbirds sing...

The viewers were singing, jumping, rollicking to the beat and enjoying the Elvis night.  Strange, it doesn't happen today does it, not at the movies.  Unless it's a live rock concert. I guess people were less inhibited then?  Or were we more simple-minded?

We all hoped for one thing, that it didn't pour. If it had we would all run for cover! No Fort Canning nor Marina Bay Sands venues but we had fun as friends and neighbours gathered around a community centre for rock n roll revelations.

*Jailhouse Rock was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Images: Google.

20 comments:

Andy Lim* said...

Hi everyone,

My usual ramblings about old Singapore. Have you been to one of these cinemas in the past?

If you have memories to tell with a music connection do write in and I will publish them. All is lost when we pass on and nothing's left for the little ones...

Thanks

FREDDIESIOW said...

Hi Andy, ur usual rambling keeps history alive. There are not too many guy like u around; let alone those with Passion to write and document stories for keep.

So my friend ramble on....rambling rose.

Sent from my HTC

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks Fred for your support. Would be great if you could contribute some stories too.

George Favacho said...

Greetings Andy & Larry,

Subject: ROLLY VILLAMIL - D'STARLIGHTS

Just received news of the passing of our dear friend ROLLY VILLAMIL in Perth.

e was a member of D'Starlights Band who made a big impression in Singapore in the early 60's.

Do pray for him!

Best Wishes,

Chun See Lam said...

We also had a make-shift 'cinema' at our kampong. I was too young to remember much except a B&W movie call Rocket Man and another of Journey to the West.

That 'cinema' btw, would be located squat on the CTE near the junction with Braddell Rd today.

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you George. Our condolences to the family. May Rolly rest in peace.

anon said...

There was an open-air cinema in Toa Payoh during the 60s and tickets cost 10cents each. We sit on the grass and if it was wet we would use a newspaper or mat to sit on. No one can watch the shows free because the cinema operator would put up large pieces of cloth as fences using upright wooden poles to prevent outsiders from viewing. Patrons come in through a narrow entrance between these cloth fences.

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you Chun See for your contribution. How do you ever manage to remember the exact location of the cinema today?

Barrymore69 said...

I`ve only been to Singapore briefly, for a couple of days either side of a far East Cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in 2009, so I have no knowledge of the open air cinemas in Singapore! BUT, I served in Aden 64-65, up in the Radfan at Thumier Base (later called Habylan) we had an open air cinema in the camp which was a great way to relax but one night, while watching "From Here to Eternity" Audie Murphy I think (wasn`t he the most highly decorated U.S. serviceman?) we got attacked by local Yemini dissidents & several bullet holes could be seen in the cloth screen. I know this isn`t a Singapore story, but thought I`d share it with you.

Barrymore69

Andy Lim* said...

Hi Barrymore69,

Thank you so much for your interesting but heart-thumping episode. I cannot imagine such an incident let alone experience it. Please feel free to write in anytime even if it's not a Singapore story.

Yes Audie Murphy did win the medal but I remember it was Frank Sinatra who acted in that film.

Hope you enjoyed your cruise to this part of the world and visit to Singapore.

Please keep in touch and appreciate you reading the blog.

Fabian Foo said...

Andy and Chun See,

Yes I do remember this open air kampong cinema. The location should now be the place just opposite the SPC petrol station in Bradell Road. If it rains , we stand on the 4 sides of the open theatre to take shelter but continue to watch the show. Brings back fond memories of my teen days.

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks so much Fabian for your contribution. I am learning much from you, Chun See and other readers regarding this topic. The only other open-air cinema I remember is in the heart of Geylang Serai.


FL said...

Hi, Andy, ss kids, my mum used to bring us to watch B&W movies at the open-air cinema during the late 1950s. The ticket was only 10 cents & it's free for young children accompanied by their parents. The said cinema was located at the vacant land at the end of Tanjong Pagar Rd area (former Singapore Harbour Board or SHB). I remember it looked like the one at Somapah Rd. There were 2 shows every night, i.e. 7 pm and 9 pm. I also remember watching movies at one open air cinema in Telok Blangah Rd area, but could not remember the exact location. Anyone care to name the location, thanks.

Andy Lim* said...

Hullo FL,

Thank you very much for the information you provided. I never realised there were so many open-air cinemas in Singapore 60s. I guess these business people needed to distribute the films around to make a profit. Just wondering if they came from only two sources, Shaw Brothers and Cathay Organisation, or were there others.

Anyone with some answers?


BARRY WALKER said...

Hi Andy,

Another interesting site (Capitol Cinema story is within).

Very best regards,
Barry

Sent from my iPad.


Begin forwarded message:

http://stateofbuildings.sg/

BARRY WALKER said...

Hi Andy,

Thought this might be interesting for snippets in the future.

Very best regards,
Barry.

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

If you have not seen this blog it will fill a few hours of spare time!

http://remembersingapore.wordpress.com/

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you Barry for the connections. These sites reveal Singapore's past, both in pictures and text.

FL said...

Hi, Andy, to add on to my contribution, there used to be a movie (English) shown every Sunday's evening at the SHB Police quarters at former Low Hill Rd (near Keppel Rd)around 1960-63. The movie was meant to be for the enjoyment of families of the SHB Police Force,however, members of the public were also invited in free. The movie was shown with a giant white screen with poles as supports like an open air cinema. As a young teen, I never miss it every Sunday except on raining days !

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks FL for info that I'm not familiar with. Appreciate your regular visits to provide this blog with insights not many Singaporeans know about.


John Cher said...

Hi Andy
The lead actors for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY are Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift. Frank Sinatra was one of the leads but did not get top billing. The lead lady was Deborah Kerr, who went on to become the lead lady for Yul Brynner in The King and I.

Audie Murphy was the most decorate soldier of WW 2. The movie TO HELL AND BACK was based on his life story. Audie Murphy starred as himself in the movie.

I am sure our good friend Audie Ng of The Silver Strings must be a fan of Audie Murphy, who made dozens of Westerns. The Texican and Gunsmoke are two of my favourite A.M. westerns.