Photographs, Negatives, Slides and Plates of Film and Cinema


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Marlene Dietrich : "Der Blaue Engel" [1930]

A scene from "Der Blaue Engel," the 1930 German tragicomedic film directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich. The Blue Angel was the first feature-length German full-talkie and elevated Marlene Dietrich to an international audience.

Karin Hardt and Hans Schlenck : "Die Liebe und die erste Eisenbahn" [1934]

A scene from the 1934 German film "Die Liebe und die erste Eisenbahn" [Love and the First Railway], with Hans Schlenck pedalling a cycle and sidecar combination of a railway line. Playing the part of Brigitte, Karin Hardt is the passenger. The historical comedy movie was directed by Robert Neppach and set in the 1830s during the construction of the railway line between Berlin and Potsdam.

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Boston : Manager and Staff outside The Picturedrome in the High Street [1925]

An excellent photograph showing the manager and staff on the steps of The Picturedrome that stood on the High Street in Boston. I can confidently state that the image was captured in May 1925 because the headlines on the billboard for the Pathé Super Gazette newsreel includes the "London May Queen" and the "Bomb Explosion in Sofia Cathedral." The latter event occurred in April 1925 but would have taken a while for it to appear on British cinema screens. Another headline is for the "World's Largest Carillon," a newsreel item on the completion of the carillon of bells made at Gillett & Johnston's foundry at Croydon. The work was completed in May 1925 and inspected by the King and Queen. The contract was placed by the Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, owing to a munificent donation by John Davison Rockefeller Jr., in memory of his mother. The bells were shipped from London on the Cunarder "Albania."

The Picturedrome was originally known as The Quay Picture House when it opened to the public on Thursday January 29th, 1914. The second cinema to open in Boston, the building was converted from a private residence, the former home of Dr. Edward Bass Reckitt. He was a surgeon in Boston for 33 years but left the town shortly after his wife's death. The proprietor, George Sadler, successfully applied for a licence for the cinema in November 1913. The architect was Archibald Theodore Sadler of Nottingham. Undertaken by Messrs. John T. Barber and Sons of High Street, the work involved the removal of the interior walls and an extension to the rear. According to the Boston Guardian the cost of the alterations and additions amounted to about £3,500. The cinema could seat 350 people, with 73 seats in a small balcony, with 180 sixpenny and 100 threepenny seats in the stalls. Tea and biscuits were provided for the occupants of the balcony seats. The wholesale confectioner Walter Kipping was awarded the contract for the supply of all chocolate sweetmeats consumed in the cinema. The Renaissance-style frontage, the work of Messrs. Lazzaroni of Nottingham, featured marble steps leading up to the entrance, with its finely-worked ceiling, and well-appointed lounge. The name of the cinema was picked out in electric lights, and in addition there were several arc lights. The cinema was dubbed "Cosy" and soon became known as the Cosy Picture House.

The opening programme of films featured the thriller "In The Northern Wastes," billed as strong meat for drama lovers, "Capers of Cupid," a drama released in the previous year. There was also a screening of "The Escape," described as a movie featuring "the most exciting and unexpected incidents, dealing with the dash for freedom of an American convict." In addition to an Italian travel picture, the opening night also screened "The Snare of Fate," a romantic drama made in 1913.

In this 1925 photograph the manager and staff can be seen standing on the marble steps. When the cinema first opened the manager was John Hudson. However, by 1914 he had been succeeded by J. J. Kelly. By the end of World War One the manager and proprietor of the cinema was Leonard G. Pycock. He had served with the 3rd Lincolnshire Regiment. By the early 1920s the Cosy Picture House was leased and run by Fred C. Johnson. I believe the name of the cinema changed to The Picturedrome when the business was sold by George Sadler to Hunts Cinemas Ltd., the managing director being Sidney Reach. The only member of the 1925 staff I can name is Ruth Watson who was employed as a cashier.

The film being advertised to the left of the steps of The Picturedrome was "Ramshackle House," a 1924 romantic drama starring Betty Compson. The silent movie era was drawing to its end; a few years later The Picturedrome became the first Boston cinema to feature 'talkies' when "The Singing Fool" was screened in October 1929. Disaster struck in the spring of the following year when the cinema was destroyed by fire in April 1930. Dr. Wright and his wife, who lived next door, could smell burning paint in the middle of the night and evacuated the house. With a wind fanning the flames, the fire spread rapidly. Captain Bradley, realising that the building was doomed, concentrated all efforts of his fire crew on saving the neighbouring houses. Within two hours the cinema was completely gutted. Sidney Reach estimated the damage to be around £7,000 but confirmed that the building was not fully insured.

Hilde Weissner [c.1934]

Portrait of Hilde Weissner, possibly at the beginning of her film career some five years after her theatrical acting debut at the Schiller-Theatre in Hamburg-Altona. Hilde Weissner often played self-confident women and was also a fine singer and dancer.

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Oskar Karlweis and Lilian Harvey : "Die Drei von der Tankstelle" [1930]

A still from the 1930 German musical "Die Drei von der Tankstelle" [The Three from the Filling Station], starring Oskar Karlweis and Lilian Harvey and directed by Wilhelm Thiele. The movie was a big hit and a huge box-office success, and is considered to be a major influence on Hollywood musicals made during the 1930s.

Lancashire : Deansgate and the Electric Theatre [c.1912]

Dating from around 1912, this is a good photograph of Deansgate at Bolton with the Cinematograph or Electric Theatre on the right-hand side of the image. "A Terrible Night" is advertised on the front of the building. This must have been doing the circuit again as it was first released in 1900 but the Electric Theatre opened for business in August 1910. Ten years later it was re-branded as the Imperial Playhouse. Following a refurbishment in 1939, it became the Embassy Cinema. However, the lifespan of this enterprise was short-lived as it closed in September 1947. The building was subsequently converted into a Littlewood's. The old place was demolished in later years. The ground floor shop with curved windows housed Meeson's confectionary shop. This emporium sold caramels, jellies and chocolates which no doubt went into the pockets of patrons of the cinema for chomping during the matinée. Notice the painted wall advertisement for Magee Marshall & Co., a firm based at the Crown Brewery in nearby Derby Street. This local brewery was bought out by Greenall Whitley & Company in 1959.

Jenny Jugo : "Die Schmugglerbraut von Mallorca" [1929]

Jenny Jugo in a scene from "Die Schmugglerbraut von Mallorca" [The Smuggler's Bride of Mallorca], a 1929 German silent romance film directed by Hans Behrendt. There is a love struggle, plenty of smuggling and scenes inside a pub called the Black Scorpion.

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Liane Haid and Gustav Fröhlich : "Ich will nicht wissen, wer du bist" [1932]

A scene featuring Liane Haid and Gustav Fröhlich in "Ich will nicht wissen, wer du bist" [I Do Not Want to Know Who You Are], a 1932 German comedy film directed by Géza von Bolváry. Gustav Fröhlich plays the role of the impoverished Count Lerchenau working as a chauffeur, a station below the expectations of Liane Haid playing the role of Countess Alice Lamberg. Plot spoiler alert - true love always finds its way.

Lilian Harvey [c.1930]

Lilian Harvey in one of her "vamp" poses for the camera. Born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape at Crouch End, North London, in 1906, she wound up in Berlin after the First World War and trained at the dance and voice school of the Berlin State Opera. Her film debut was in 1925 and during the introduction of The Talkies, teamed up with Willy Fritsch. In the 1930s she featured in four Hollywood films but returned to Germany. Her Jewish connections made her a target of the authorities. Her assets were seized and she subsequently moved to France before working as a volunteer nurse in the United States during the war.

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