Showing 26 - 34 of 34 comments
Terence Casey. The name is quite familiar. My father, under the pseudonym Arthur Raymond, followed him as resident organist in about 1929 at the time of the fire, until the mid-thirties when he was called elsewhere.
As next of kin, my mother and I were given “complimentaries” for Thursday evenings, when business
was slacker. We were greeted by the managers, either Mr Williams or Mr. Ainsworth who regularly appeared in evening dress on the front steps of the forum. Our free tickets were valid at all GB cinemas.
It was a splendid theatre, and obviously enterprising by its mounting of a German warplane over the front portico. I remember seeing that aircraft every time I went by in the bus to school, but never saw that memorable film there. (I saw it at the North Street Grand). Once there was a German film called “Schuldig”
meaning “Guilty” and I probably saw “Morgenrot” “Red morning” there, about a submarine.
My outstanding recollection is about “Naughty Marietta”, bringing Nelson Eddy and J. MacDonald together for the first time. It won an Oscar for some sub-section, probably sound recording.
It has to be remembered that earlier on, sound pictures were on disc, not film, so that the projectors required
record (331/3 r.p.m) players at the back of the equipment, and considerable assiduity in maintaining synchronization.
My father was resident organist from the addition of the new Wurlitzer organ in 1929 until the mid-thirties.
Somewhere tucked away I have some photos of him on the organ and a shot inside the projection room.I was under the impression that he was there at the time of the fire. I’ll drum up some details later.
I remember that September 1937 when my father told us of his appointment as organist at the Theatre. There were some great times then: many stage shows between pictures.(Obviously I am a very senior citizen)
One of them, just before Christmas, 1939, featured Robert Ashley, baritone, singing “Moon Love”. an adaptation of Tchaikowski’s Fifth Symphony, 2nd movement.
There were also Robert and Murray Dickie,tenor, 16 years old, who with their mother stayed with us; both of the boys performed in the show and later became well known opera soloists.
William Pethers' orchestra played “Somewhere over the rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz,and “Small Hotel”.
My principal part(as actually a Paramount employee)was in a finale. I was dressed in my O.T.C. uniform, representing the Army.The two other services appeared one on each side so that we formed a
Very Creative Days.
One of my memories is of when father sent me on an errand to Felton Rapley, the organist at the Gaumont in 1938.
I caught a glimpse of the screen. It was a scene from
“Snow white and the seven dwarfs”. Christmas ‘38 was a good time. “If I were King” with Ronald Colman was playing at the Paramount. (Fiction of Francois Villon, the knave poet, taking King Louis XI’s place for a day
during a war with Burgundy. Came out as a musical in '56 as the “Vagabond King”.)
Of course, I HAD to go and see the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City, suburb of Los Angeles, and found it disappointing. Someone was making a clip for a TV weekly. Our group was allowed into the studio commissariat where we could lunch with the players.I did see Debbie Reynolds and a few from long forgotten
series like “Shenandoah” and “Chaparral” “Dr. Kildare”
Buildings were quite old, 1910s or 1920s. You could almost imagine operators hand-turning their cameras.
Can’t argue after 70 years. That’s how it seemed to me. There is photograph of father on the organ in the May 1938 issue of “Cinema Management”. Remember, he is at the extreme left of the stage, as seen from the auditorium.
I am fortunate in still having photos of Autry’s visit,
of the enormous film projectors, some of the staff, including some charming usherettes. I might be able to
forward them, although I have never done that before. It will have to wait, because they are in Anchorage, Alaska, and I am writing from Portland,. Oregon.
I will watch the Youtube.
Kindest Regards,Stan Austin.
I was introduced by my father, Arthur Raymond, to the jovial Mr Holderness about 1937 when I was
One length of the cinema must have been about 50 yards.or at least five minutes' walk.The foyer was magnificently decorated and a series of steps on each side led to the gallery, adjoining a very delightful
The manager, Chris Cassidy, who resembled actor Dick Powell, always appeared in the foyer in evening dress.
There is a photograph of mine of the operator at work in the projection room, taken in 1942.
As I mentioned in my main comment, the organ rose about six feet or more presumebly by hydraulic power and turned half right.
A man walked through the blacked out Birmingham streets
from the Paramount to our Edgbaston home early in World War II.
Nothing special, except that the No 7 bus to Portland Road and all others had stopped running. He placed a small dud firebomb found during the air raid on our mantle piece.He was Arthur Raymond, resident organist at the Paramount from 1937 to 1944, and my father.
His real name was Cecil Austin which he later used for
Chopin concerts around the United Kingdom.
It is very nostalgic to recall the glory of the Paramount after seventy-five years.
However, my father’s talent was unique.
The usual programme contained a supporting film, the news, trailers,occasional cartoon (Disney) and the main
Very frequently threre was a stage show and Arthur’s repertoire: a slide show of operettas such as “Rose Marie”, “Student Prince” accompanied by records played from the projection room while he played
the organ.The organ actually rose six feet or more and turned half right for dad’s performance.
Audiences were really intrigued when he accompanied
songs in a musical film.
On 11/12/40 we had a really hefty air raid. It is surprising that the theatre was untouched; on Friday
13/12/40 I sat on the organ seat with him as he rehearsed the accompaniment to the “New Moon” with
Jeanette MacDonald and Helson Eddy and of course played it the next week. I was allowed to go pretty well all over the theatre including the projection room with Jackson the operator,or watch Gregory the stage manager controlling the coloured lights still playing on the screen when the film opened.
(Many years later I saw Nelson Eddy’s live show and spoke to him a day later)
One special event was the visit of cowboy singer Gene
Autry and his horse “Champion”.
The press photographer did not come, and I can’t say how thrilled I was to “snap” the star and Mr Smith-
a manager from Loughborough- for publicity. I still have the B/W print in my album as well as much else: popular music which father gave me.
When I project the classic DVDs on a 6' by 41/2' screen, even that isn’t anything like watching it in such a luxurious and fabulous cinema as the Paramount was although I have visited the New Gallery, the Regert
Brighton,and many theatres in the UK and US. The Paramount wsa artistry beyond compare.