The Little Theatre Cinema is 80 this year, and to mark this momentous milestone we are putting on fabulously exciting events throughout the year. The screening last month of Oh, Mr Porter! (the Will Hay comedy which was the first feature ever shown at the Little) was sold out, so we will give it another screening later in the year. Before that, we have two cracking films coming up.
First, a look at how cinema was absolutely and indubitably invented in Bath. Kind of.
Sun 21st February, 7.30
THE MAGIC BOX [U]
Director John Boulting. Starring Robert Donat, Richard Attenborough, Margaret Johnston, Maria Schell. UK 1951, 118 mins.
Robert Donat delivers a typically moving performance as the British inventor who experimented with motion pictures in his Bath studio (at number 9, The Corridor, in fact). Made for the Festival of Britain, it is notable not just as an interesting slice of little-known nineteenth century history, but also for a parade of famous faces, all popping up in the film as though to pay homage to one of the founders of cinema. Look out for Laurence Olivier, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Ustinov, Stanley Holloway, Marius Goring, Sybil Thorndike, Sid James, Michael Redgrave, Joyce Grenfell, Michael Hordern and many more.
We are delighted that Sir Christopher Frayling will be at the Little to introduce The Magic Box.
Staff will be dressed in vintage clobber, complete with ice cream trays. Should customers wish to avail themselves of the styles of the 1950s then they’ll be made to feel very much at home. Free ice cream on offer to those that make the effort!
And secondly, one of Bath’s most famous inhabitants is put in the spotlight
Sun 20th March, 8.00
FOOTSTEPS OF THE EMPEROR
Director Shawn Sobers. Narrated by Benjamin Zephaniah. UK 1999. 50 mins.
A look at how Bath resident His Imperial Highness Haile Selassie spent his time while in wartime exile in our cherished city. His routine included trips to the Little to see newsreels telling how Ethiopia was faring without him. The film includes great archive footage as well as an interview with Hilary King, current owner of the Little, who remembers the Emperor’s visits to the Little, as well as eating at the Imperial residence at Fairfield House (which was bought because the view from its windows reminded him of Ethiopia).
With Q&A with the film’s director, Shawn Sobers
We welcome reminiscences and photographs from the public – should you have any that you would like us to include in an upcoming publication, then please send to martin..uk.
Attached are some photographs from the Little’s archive. The refreshments counter is staffed by Alice Dyer, a cinema stalwart who gave many years loyal service both to the Little and the Southgate Odeon.