The Cinema in the Thirties

Depression stalked our beloved Country
with endless days of poverty and want.
Sad memories of the First World War
still deep in our hearts,
to grieve and to haunt.

A six-day week, a pay packet to spend;
put nine-pence aside to go, with a friend
to see a film and sample delights
of Romance and Glamour, on Saturday nights.

Bright lights beckoned as we stepped off the bus,
everything seemed to be welcoming us.
The foyer, a cavern of red, gold, gand cream,
then darkness, a torch and the Silver Screen.

The supporting film and a Disney cartoon;
the appetizer to start with but then, very soon,
came the big film, the one that we’d all come to see;
the old and the young, my best friend and me.

The dancing of Ginger and Fred Astaire
dispelled the ‘Blues’ as we sat and stared,
while Mickey Rooney, precocious child,
and Judy Garland, drove their fans wild.

Engulfed with laughter at the Marx Brothers antics;
‘A Night at the Opera’, drove us all frantic.
Then, ‘Gone With The Wind’ with Vivien Leigh;
such a beautiful girl, just as we longed to be.

The curtains swished down; a machine all aglow,
the cinema organ came up from below.
A man in coat-tails played tunes of the day
and we stood and queued for ice cream from a tray .

The Cowboys lived and died by the gun.
The one with the white hat always won
All of them fired their guns quite a lot,
But the man, in black, was the one who got shot.

A romantic gesture; light your Love’s cigarette.
We hadn’t been told not to smoke, not yet.
She blew perfect smoke rings with elegant ease,
Her red lacquered lips pouting to please.

The bedroom scenes were all very chaste,
nobody took off their clothes in haste..
Those on the bed were told to be sure,
to keep one foot firmly attached to the floor.

Each film had been censored and vouchsafed to show
happy endings for lovers and villains brought low.
We swallowed it all, at least for a while,
a picture of Heaven, Hollywood style.

Evil was never allowed to succeed
But, in real life, were warnings we needed to heed
when goose-stepping men marched across Pâthé News
we felt the return of our fear-faden ‘Blues’.

But we were young and still full of hope;
and, with what Life threw at us, we felt we could cope.
We knew what to do.
from our own box of tricks,
was to spend every Saturday night at the ‘Flicks’.

© Marion Sharville




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