At The Movies With Mum
Today, I said my goodbyes and sent my Mum into the fire at Manchester Crematorium. She died Sunday, October 5. Just four days earlier, inspired by an article over at Verbal Spew (thanks ‘V’), I interviewed her about going to ‘the pictures’ back in the day. I hope you folk get something out of it – myself, I just needed to get something out there as a tribute. I didn’t know what else to do…
WOLF: What do you remember about going to the cinema when you were younger?
MUM: Not a lot. We enjoyed it. Me and yer Dad used to go every Saturday night… at the Longford. Sometimes we went to The Pyramid in Sale.
W: The Pyramid? Don’t know that one…
M: It was on the main road…
W: Washway? Do you mean what became the Odeon?
W: Right, got yer… Tell you what, here’s a memory tester – what 3 films did us two go and see at the Odeon?
M: Bluddy ‘ell, I don’t know! Give us a clue.
M: Oh, aye, that daft robot… it was like one of the old serials in space, the fella in space… Oh, was it Buck Rogers? (receives affirmative nod & looks really pleased with herself) Piffle, but enjoyable. Didn’t we go and see Star Wars there as well?
W: Empire, so technically ‘yes’. The third one was The Humanoid – like an Italian version of Star Wars but shit. You sound like Darth Vader when you’ve got yer oxygen on…
M: (laughs) Yes, I do… Darth Mater… ahem (laughs again). The Empire Strikes Back, it was on telly a bit ago, they were showing all of them again. Good films, those. Don’t remember The Humanoid, nah.
W: Nobody does. What’s the first film you remember seeing?
M: The first film I remember seeing was Tom Hanks…
W: You saw a film called Tom Hanks!
M: No! He was in it. Can’t remember what it was… The Graduate.
W: That was Dustin Hoffman!
M: Oh, crumbs, ‘course it was.
W: You must remember seeing a film before the mid-1960’s!
W: There you go. Coz in the past you’ve always talked about seeing, like, Bogie, Peter Lorre, people like that…
M: Oh, aye, Peter Lorre. He wasn’t very memorable to me though.
W: Did you go to the pictures to see M?
M: Yes, we did. M was good… the blind man recognising the killer whistling Peer Gynt… and then he gets his coat marked with chalk. And the other murder one… Dial M For Murder, that was another good one.
W: Hitchcock, yeh… Was M the first film you remember or was there something before that?
M: I remember Bambi. I think that was the first animated picture Disney did.
W: Hell, no. I reckon Snow White was before that, and Dumbo… Fantasia…
M: I liked all of those. I think Disney was my favourite… coz I could draw, y’know, and I appreciated the artists, the way they drew the animals, you could tell they loved their subject…
W: I know you could draw, I’ve seen some of your sketches. You could’ve worked for Disney.
M: Nah! I wasn’t that good.
W: You were… Were movies a big deal in your house?
M: Yeah. I don’t know whether they saw all the ones you’re on about but they all used to go. My brother Ronnie and yer Dad… me, my Mum. She liked a good film.
W: So what was your favourite cinema then?
M: Well, it would have to be the Longford.
W: Didn’t you go to one called ‘the bug hut’?
M: That was where we lived on Church Street… the end of Church Street, there was a little cockeyed cinema there called The Futurist but we all called it ‘the bug hut’. There was a toffee shop on the corner and Scanlans the hair-dressers… Then there was the Picturedrome on King Street. Oh, and there was one here just on the corner of Moss Road – the Corona, but it was a bit far to walk from Church Street. There isn’t a one now is there, rare as hen’s teeth…
W: Corona – is that the one I’ve heard you and Dad call ‘the flea pit’?
M: Not sure now, I think that might’ve been the Futurist as well – bit of a poky ‘ole, y’know and more often than not they’d have to stop the film coz us kids could get quite rowdy in them days (laughs). But the Longford was ours… the carpet, you’d sink up to yer knees in it. Two shillings and sixpence, the front circle… Yer Dad used to shout ‘Geronimo!’ and flick his peanuts at the crowd downstairs. It was one shilling and six for downstairs so we’d go in there and sneak upstairs. And another lad we knew would bring his pet snake in…
W: A snake! No way! What kind of snake?
M: (laughs) I’m not sure now… think it was an adder. He used to say he wanted to ‘give it a change of scenery’ and he’d walk in with just its head sticking out of his pocket. We’d sit near the fire exit just in case it got obstreperous! If it was a full house when we got there, yer Dad would shout “Snake!” and clear the cinema – then we’d pick out the best seats.
W: You’re pulling my leg…
M: I am not! Another mate of yer Dad’s, he used to bring an air-horn with him and every time a romantic bit came up in the film he’d let it off – ‘whaaaaa!’ (laughs) It’d be all quiet in the cinema and the two stars would be just about to canoodle and then ‘whaaaaa!’ (laughs again) And then we got thrown out! It was just a bit of fun – if the film was rubbish, y’know…
W: Juvenile. What was the first film you saw with Dad then?
M: Can’t remember… I know Peter Lorre figured a lot and other folks like that.
W: Did you see stuff like Casablanca?
M: Yeah, Casablanca, with Umphrey Bogg-ert.
W: Umphrey Bogg-ert? As pronounced?
M: Mmm. Yer Dad always called him Umphrey Bogg-ert… (laughs)
W: What’s your favourite film of all time?
M: I think it’s probably Bambi. Good one, that, full of heart.
W: What about newer films? I see you watch stuff like Bourne Identity and Shaun Of The Dead when they’re on telly…
M: Yes, I like those. I like Shaun with that daft fella in it; his Mum turns into a zombie… Zombie Mum! (laughs)
W: Don’t go getting any ideas…
M: (still laughing) I enjoy that other one as well… walking on glass… he’s in a skyscraper and his mate’s stuck in the garage with a cuddly toy…
W: Die Hard?
M: Yes, Die Hard. I like that one. Yer Dad liked that one as well, best film he’s ever seen, he said. The fil-ums you put on from time to time are usually good, entertaining… weird creatures, things like that…
W: Space vampires…
M: Eh? Which one was that?
W: Lifeforce. Naked lady from space goes on a naked rampage through London, naked.
M: (laughs) Oh, God, aye… It was diabolical! I think it was another of yer Dad’s favourites, that.
W: Can’t think why… Is there a film you really hate?
M: No, not really. I wouldn’t go and see it if I couldn’t stand the star in it.
W: Oh, right. Who didn’t you like then, actor-wise?
M: Not keen on Victor Mature; I didn’t like his mouth… (mimics Vic’s apparent mouth shape)
W: I see (nonplussed). What about your favourite actor then, who was that?
M: Well, Umphrey Bogg-ert was in those days. I sort of liked Spencer Tracy as well.
W: How do you ‘sort of like’ Spencer Tracy? Either you do or you don’t.
M: Well, not every film he was in was good…
W: Fury – top film, did you see that?
M: Is that the one where he’s only got one arm?
W: No, that was Bad Day At Black Rock – also top.
M: Good ‘un, that. I don’t remember the other one…
W: What about a favourite actress?
M: Well I won’t go as far back as I remember to Myrna Loy (laughs). Good looking wench, but stiff. Yeah, she was one of me favourites. I can’t remember the rest of them… There was a blonde… Veronica Lake, oh my goodness, her with the blonde hair… Umphrey Bogg-ert married her, yeah, he fancied her (laughs).
W: He may have fancied her but he didn’t marry her. Lauren Bacall did.
M: Oh, of course! Lauren Bacall, good actress she was. I thought he married Veronica Lake at some point.
W: Nah. So Lakey was one of your favourites…
M: Didn’t like her much. I took more notice of the fellas really.
W: (laughs) You’re not making this easy… Right. What about John Wayne, did you like him?
M: Oh, he’s all right if you like that sort of thing. Gary Cooper was all right and Cary Grant – all them… Montgomery Clift was okay but I wasn’t that keen on ‘im…
W: Do you remember any movie quotes then, specific lines?
M: “You talkin’ to me? (laughs) You talkin’ to me?”
W: Whoa, I was expecting Disney or Yoda or something! Classic… So, if somebody made a film based on your life, who would play you?
M: God, I don’t know… Some old bat!
W: (laughs) Well, you’d have someone playing you young, then maybe someone playing you old…
M: Erm… who do I look like… (laughs)… I don’t know!
W: Would it be somebody like Marlene Dietrich…?
M: Oh, give over! ‘Come up and see me some time…’ (starts shrugging her shoulder seductively to demonstrate something) oh, dear… Pathetic, it was, their efforts at being passionate – ‘come up and see me some time…’ (laughs and starts shrugging her shoulder again)
W: That was Mae West, you clown! And I don’t know what this is (shrugs shoulder)…
M: I know it was bluddy Mae West! The fellas were all queuing up for her… and she was ‘orrible! Well what did Marlene Dietrich do then, what was it… (thinks)? ‘Ochi Charnye…’ (starts singing in a low octave – it ends tragically in a coughing fit)
W: I know Falling In Love Again; don’t know what o-chee-charnyer’ is.
M: Russian for ‘black eyes’… ‘Fwoor-ling in love aggen – waddam I to-dooo…’ (laughs) She can’t play me. No one can play me.
W: You sounded like John Hurt in Alien then – ‘we must go on, we have to go on.’ Same tone and everyfink.
M: What a way to go (blows raspberry & extends her fist vertically). Alien. Be quicker than what I’ve got…
W: How do you mean no one can play you?
M: I’d be too complex for them. A complex character (laughs).
W: How about… Sophia Loren?
M: She couldn’t play me! Doesn’t even look like me.
W: Doesn’t matter – they just CG the shit out of your face now…
M: Eh? And Gina Lollobrigida… Blummin’ ‘eck, I don’t look like them. If I looked like them I wouldn’t be sat here now!
W: What about somebody newer then? Say, Scarlett Johanssen?
M: Never heard of ‘im.
W: (laughs) Fay Wray?
W: Jodie Foster?
M: No-oooo… No. (phone rings) ‘No’ to that as well. It’ll be an idiot, ringin’ at this time, always is. (phone continues to ring) It’ll be the postman. The Postman Rings Twice.
W: Sharp. Do you like him, then – Jack Nicholson?
M: Don’t like ‘im. Never did. There’s something weird about that man. Don’t like ‘im. I’m usually right as well, there’s usually something queer about them, somewhere in their life, right.
W: (trying not to laugh) Well, if you say there’s something queer about him it must be true… but they haven’t found anything yet.
M: They might… especially with that Nicholson tripe hound.
W: Do you fancy George Clooney?
M: Nah. Too lumbering.
W: You mean he’s a fat bastard, got yer…
M: Stop talking now and get the kettle on. I’m knackered…
And that was that. I meant to go over a few details, see if she could elaborate a few points and remind her of a few more films… I never got the chance. I hope she’s back at the Longford now with Dad, flicking peanuts…
My Mum: November 7, 1925 – October 5, 2014
ThereWolf, October 2014