With so many blogs and websites 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|
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.
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.|
|Flapping In The Wind|
Whenever the wind blew the screen (a large white sheet of cloth between two basketball poles) Dino and Jerry blew along 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.
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
|Iconic Jailhouse Scene.|
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.
A Note From David Neo:
"This open air theatre belongs to my great grandfather... and I lived on the left side of the picture... as kids, we would stand on the stool - just to take peek at the movies... hahahha.. life was simpler then: David Neo, 3.7.2017."