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Edinburgh’s Art Deco Heritage 16: Dominion Cinema, Morningside

This is a stunner. A fantastic cinema in the Streamline Moderne Art Deco style. It really ought to have been much further up this list, possibly even at the top, but I had no photographs of it. I knew it existed but not exactly where it was in Edinburgh. I wasn’t very familiar with the geography of the city but my son moved there a couple of years ago and on a visit I was exploring the area he lives in.

Imagine my delight on coming across this by accident rather than design. It’s still a working independent cinema, run by a family. This is their website. They also have a facebook presence.

From Morningside Road end of Newbattle Terrace. Great curved column:-

Dominion Cinema, Edinburgh

Closer view:-

Dominion Cinema 2

From Newbattle Terrace, opposite aspect:-

Dominion Cinema 3

Upper detailing and roofline:-

Dominion Cinema 4

Stained glass window by entrance doorway. This is mirrored on the other side:-

Dominion Cinema 5

Column detailing and surround:-

Dominion Cinema 6

Canopy, clock and lettering:-

Dominion Cinema 7

Stitch from across Newbattle Terrace:-

Dominion Cinema 8

Former Majestic Cinema, Inverkeithing

Located in Boreland Road, Inverkeithing, the cinema opened in 1918 but updated in 1931 and has a vaguely Art Deco feel. It’s now an antiques/second-hand shop.

Former Majestic Cinema Inverkeithing

Former Majestic Cinema Inverkeithing 2

The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy

This wonderful Art Deco cinema in Aberfeldy, Perthshire (or Perth and Kinross as it has now become is perhaps not what you expect to see in a small town in the middle of Scotland. Still in use as a cinema (plus cafe and bar.) The Birks (birches) is a local beauty spot/steep valley.

The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy from Right

Entrance. Like the rest of the cinema (refurbished quite recently I believe) the glazing isn’t original:-

The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy, Entrance

View from left:-

The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy

Side aspect:-

The Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy, side view from rear

Fife’s Art Deco Heritage 15 (i): Rosyth

We got fairly well acquainted with Rosyth, a Fife town on the Firth of Forth west of but very close to the Forth Bridges, when we were house-hunting. We opted for elsewhere in the end.

Rosyth is most famous for its Naval Dockyard but is home to some deco.

The Clydesdale Bank building, on Queensferry Road, has an Art Deco frontage, at least in its older aspect, built 1932:-

Clydesdale Bank Building, Rosyth

This modern addition (to the left of photo above) isn’t though:-

Clydesdale Bank, Rosyth, Modern Addition

The former Palace Cinema, also on Queensferry Road, from left.

Former Cinema, Rosyth

Palace Cinema from right:-

Former Palace Cinema, Rosyth

Shop with slightly edged flat roof on Admiralty Road. Windows replaced.

Art Deco Style Shop, Rosyth

The Logie Baird Pub, Helensburgh

This is the former La Scala Cinema, Helensburgh, now a pub named after Helensburgh’s most famous son, John Logie Baird, inventor of television. (Well, one form of it.) Stitch of two photos:-

The Logie Baird Pub, Helensburgh

The building was erected in 1913 so it doesn’t qualify as Art Deco proper but there are some features which prefigure the style like these side pillars:-

The Logie Baird, Helensburgh  Side View

Also the stepping on the roof-line. The painting scheme emphasises the Deco feel:-

The Logie Baird

Former Cinema Cowdenbeath

Once the Picture House Cinema, now a Premier Bingo Hall.
On the High Street. Not quite Art Deco. It was built in 1912. Rebuilt in 1935 so some deco touches.

Former Cinema Cowdenbeath

From left:-

Former Cinema, Cowdenbeath, Side View

Former Cinema Cowdenbeath, Other Side

Dad’s Army

DJ Films. Directed by Oliver Parker.

Having said we rarely go to see a film here we are going to a cinema twice inside a week!

The good lady has long been a devotee of the Dad’s Army TV shows. She always tries to catch them when they are on repeat (which is every week it seems) even though I bought her the box set for her birthday or Christmas one year many moons ago; so we couldn’t avoid the new film featuring its characters.

It turns out there is a dedicated cinema only a couple or so miles from our new house. It had shut down for a while when we lived in Kirkcaldy but has since reopened and it was to there we went.

In the case of Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey and Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson the casting was spot on. Neither gave exactly a clone copy of the originals but conveyed their essence well. Bill Paterson as Private Frazer was maybe a bit too obvious a choice and Daniel Mays was a good enough Private Walker. Toby Jones – excellent as ever – was perhaps not quite bumptious enough as Captain Mainwaring. Neither did Tom Courtenay exude the bumbling nature of Lance Corporal Jones nor was Blake Harrison quite as petted as private Pike needs to be.

But this is to complain that the film isn’t the TV series. And it isn’t. There weren’t enough laughs for a start. A few giggles and the odd grunt. There were also some minor crudities which wouldn’t have appeared in the original (“They don’t like it up ’em” notwithstanding.) It was nice to see Frank Williams as the vicar still and the other surviving member of the TV cast, Ian Lavender, as a Brigadier Dier.

Like its predecessor film with that original cast, which didn’t really work, this version of Dad’s Army shows that 90 minutes is just too long to buttress the conceit of a 30 minute sitcom. The necessity for sustained plot weighs too heavily on the enterprise. Witness also the dire On the Buses films of similar vintage which nevertheless were a commercial succes. (Then again not one of the various TV episodes of On the Buses ever attained anything near the level of the poorest Dad’s Army one.)

The plot here consists in the presence of a German spy in Walmington-on-Sea and the intrusion of a woman from Sgt Wilson’s past onto the scene.

It is the women of the town, Cissy and Dolly (Private Godfrey’s sisters,) Mavis Pike (as played by Sarah Lancashire the best thing in the film – except when she had to simper) and Mrs Mainwaring who in the end win the day – not something I could have seen happening in a TV episode I have to say.

The best thing about it all, though, was the outtakes alongside the end credits, corpsing and such.

I wasn’t convinced by Capt Mainwaring’s non-uniform shirt and Sgt Wilson’s civvy tie; they both looked far too modern.

But there was one absolute howler; and it was repeated. Paris was twice mentioned as being accessible to Walmington’s inhabitants – by telephone the second time. In 1944? Pre D-Day? (The plot is entangled with the deception plan to convince the Germans that the invasion would be in the Pas de Calais.) No such communication was possible at the time.

Sunset Song

Hurricane Films, Iris Productions, SellOutPictures. Directed by Terence Davies.

We don’t go to the cinema much, life and children got in the way not to mention Kirkcaldy’s dedicated cinema closing down years ago now so we had only what passes for the local “Art House” Cinema to rely on unless we wanted a trek to Dunfermline.

However we couldn’t miss seeing the film of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic book Sunset Song. So it was off to the Adam Smith Theatre again. (But that’s also a longer trip since our house move.)

It is difficult for a film to capture the essence of Gibbon’s masterpiece. I suppose this one made a valiant effort but I have huge reservations. The human story of Chris Guthrie’s life was well enough done but though references to it were made via voice-over (and in the odd bit of dialogue) and there were cutaways to sumptuous views of the countryside the importance of the land to the novel (and Gibbon’s intentions for it) did not come across with anything like enough force.

I noticed that the church used – at least for the exterior shots – was actually the one in Arbuthnott (the village with which Gibbon is most associated) where his memorial is situated. I can’t vouch for the interior as I’ve never been inside. I did feel that the soundtrack choir singing All in the April Evening in the lead-up to the church scene was ill-judged; too lush by far. We also had the minister wearing a surplice; not at all likely in a Presbyterian Kirk. And that pulpit looked disturbingly modern.

Peter Mullan as Chris’s father gave his usual Peter Mullan hardman performance and Agyness Dein’s acting as Chris was fine but really her accent was all over the place. At one point I thought she’d said, “they were burning the winds,” when it was whins. (The h in “wh” words is aspirated in Scots and Scottish English; the sound is more like hwins.) She also pronounced the g in “rang” and for her to be unable to say “loch” properly verges on the criminal for someone playing a Scotswoman. None of the accents struck me as being particularly of the Mearns though.

I also felt the prominence given to Chris’s husband Ewan’s fate towards the end of the film made it seem more of a lament for the fallen of the Great War in general rather than the more particular loss about which Gibbon was writing, for which Ewan stood as a metaphor.

Watch the film by all means – it says a lot about the harsh times and attitudes of the Scotland of a century ago – but for the full Gibbon experience the book is certainly to be preferred.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 42 (ii): Bathgate (ii)

A couple more Art Deco buildings in Bathgate.

This one looks like an ex-Woolworths but is now a Poundland. Typical deco styling:-

Former Woolworths, Bathgate

Deco touches:-

Minor Art Deco, Bathgate

Bank of Scotland. This may be later but has deco elements, especially the tall window:-

Art Deco Style Bank, Bathgate

The Pavilion, an ex-cinema, isn’t truly deco as it was built in 1920 but it prefigures the style. Note the Rule of Three in the front windows and door:-

Former Pavilion Cinema, Bathgate

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 41: Regal Cinema, Bathgate

Fine Art Deco cinema in Bathgate, West Lothian. Still in use as a cinema.

The “Rule of Three” is at work here in the central windows and their mullions, the lines at either side of the “Regal” sign and on the rooflines:-

Regal Cinema Bathgate

From side:-

Regal Cinema, Bathgate, from side

Railings and steps. Good deco “triangle” drop in each rail’s line:-

Regal Cinema, Bathgate, Railings and Steps.

Fine Art Deco glass and detailing on the canopy facade:-

Regal Cinema, Bathgate, Canopy Detail

Showing alleyway at left side of Cinema (as you look at it.) Rule of three in the sets of windows here?

Regal Cinema, Bathgate, Opposite Side

There’s a good, strong finial above the window in this detail of the frontage:-

Regal Cinema, Bathgate, Detail at Front

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