Odeon Birmingham

139 New Street,
Birmingham, B2 4NU

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raymondskid
raymondskid on September 29, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I couldn’t scan the photos in our old Mac OS X computer so I made copies and brought them to Portland, Oregon. Can’t write much now, sight is poor. Will try to scan and transmit from here. Had a time forgetting password and getting back in.

Regards to all, S.A., son of Arthur Raymond,organist 1937-44

Mike_Blakemore
Mike_Blakemore on April 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Hmm. Just a Thought.. an odd piece of Trivia. The Freehold of the Odeon New Street is owned by Oscar Deutsch’s old school “King Edward Grammar”

damiandale
damiandale on April 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm

https://www.facebook.com/groups/odeon.birmingham/

please check out my facebook group dedicted to Paramount/Odeon Birmingham.

damiandale
damiandale on April 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

to Stan Austin, your Paramount stories are great, thank you. I would absolutely love to see any photo’s you have related to the Paramount/Odeon. I am trying to compile as much info on the place as possible for future records as no one else seems to be doing that. My email address is: and I would love to hear more information & stories about the running of the Paramount including photographs you would like to share. Kind regards, Dale M (ex.Odeon New St)

damiandale
damiandale on November 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm

very interesting reading these comments. I worked at the Odeon from 1974 – 1988 as a projectionist/ stage tech until they stopped live shows. Then I moved over to the Alex theatre for a while. I know the Odeon inside out and run a facebook memorial page to the place. Anything related to it from 1937 to 1988. Im not so interested in the place after the live shows stopped and I left. I have been back and looked around and was shocked to see the dilapidated state it’s been let go to. Sad really. We were a team of 5 and looked after everything in that place. I am always on the look out for any memorabilia or memories linked to the Paramount/Odeon and have collected a few interesting items over the years. Here is my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/odeon.birmingham/

I would be happy if anyone wants to join the group and add to the memories.

raymondskid
raymondskid on June 5, 2013 at 2:51 am

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 human pyramid.

Very Creative Days.
                    Regards.
                      S.A.
                
raymondskid
raymondskid on April 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

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”.)

raymondskid
raymondskid on April 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm

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.

raymondskid
raymondskid on April 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm

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.

rmayr
rmayr on March 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Raymond, the organ console turned to the left, so that the organist could see the screen and the orchestra. If it had turned to the left the organist would have been facing the wall, and unable to see what was going on. Here is some footage of the ODEON and the organ in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCdunRXpuZg

raymondskid
raymondskid on March 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm

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 film. 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.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 20, 2012 at 5:48 am

A Birmingham resident, Mr, Cyril Barbier, has recently constructed a large, extremely detailed scale model of this theatre. There is a link to an article about it here and a link to a slide show that includes pictures of the theatre as it is today and several photos of the model.

Johncine
Johncine on January 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

Ah, the memories. I saw MOONRAKER (1979), ROCKY III (1982), BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) and THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987) here when it was a single screen. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS was also the film that reopened the cinema as a cinema only after the last gig in the summer of 1987. I also saw Huey Lewis and The News at their sell-out gig in 1986. Always bizarre that the Widescreen movies played on a bigger screen than the Scope Films. Disney films and CARRIE were also two other movie regulars here.

DSJ
DSJ on October 28, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I joined Cinerama when it was in Sheffield, in the early ‘60s, I think I was 18. The name WAS Cinerama not Itinerama and the venue was a 'Big Top’(the centre lock hub weighed 5 tons)and the film that was shown was South Seas Adventure – but NOT as described on the web sites I have visited?? The ‘Windjammer’ plot, plus film of Australia’s outback was what I watched 13 times per week(and loved it, and my favourite music was all ready Grieg’s Piano Concerto)so somewhere the info lines have got crossed.

The screen was I believe 108 feet wide but I forget the height -huge covers it! The tent we were told,cost 1 $million due to the cost of
the fireproof? material. Seating number was enormous and at (laugh)12/6d per seat with 2 shows per day the take was at least 1000 quid I believe.
We wore black guards type daks with double stitched seams, maroon cummerbund and dickiebow, white shirt and white waistcoat with gold or silver? navy type buttons.
I went with the company to Southsea but parted company after a time as I had a bad relationship with a particular manager, went on to
Paignton, Devon, and worked in a large hotel(Markham Court) for two
seasons, then migrated to Oz.

The Southsea site was on Southsea Common but I cannot remember the
Sheffield site’s location. Anyone help??
One manager was ‘Johnny’ Heinz, another was David Monk?? I have
attempted to locate and contact a good Swiss friend from that time but although I located his name and a contact number – the person I
contacted apparently spoke no English- had to get his daughter to speak to me- and had never been anywhere near Cinerama!!
A mystery, as there is only one person listed in Switzerland with his name!!

Oh, the music played outside of film time was a Glen Miller selection.
Hope this stuff is of interest.

delta
delta on March 6, 2008 at 11:27 am

‘Once Upon A Time In The Midlands’ is showing on Film 4 at 9pm on Sunday 9 March.

smoothie
smoothie on March 6, 2008 at 10:25 am

Ian-i’ve got ‘em all on paper. Past 45 (yes,45!) years even. Every movie since Elizabeth Taylor got bitten by her ass (or was it asp?) in Cleopatra. Soundtracks, posters, brochures too. Come over to Wolverhampton and taste the beer while yer at it!

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on March 6, 2008 at 10:07 am

Wow! i used to love all those old film ad layouts.

woody
woody on March 6, 2008 at 9:59 am

various ads for derby cinemas and at the bottom an ad for Odeon Birmingham live show with Elkie Brooks
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/2313607874/

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on March 6, 2008 at 9:46 am

lol yes, well it was only £2.99

smoothie
smoothie on March 6, 2008 at 6:45 am

‘Once upon a Time in the Midlands’ is being shown on TV this coming weekend,Sunday 9th March. Film4 at 9.00 pm to be exact. But I suppose all you posh lot out there have got the film on DVD by now anyway…….

jrhine
jrhine on February 23, 2008 at 1:41 am

The organ was a 4/10 Compton.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 24, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Thanks guys. ‘Once Upon A Time In The Midlands’ was filmed at the Capitol Cinema in Radford, Nottingham.

smoothie
smoothie on January 23, 2008 at 6:04 pm

David Slack/anyone: The Alan Eyles 1996 book “Gaumont British Cinemas has extensive photos of the Gaumont Colmore Circus in.

Myself am collecting all the ads from the Birmingham Post from those years with the Cinerama logo on for Roland to put on his site in due course. Its when one gets to actual photos the copyright law gets a bit scary however. The “West End” cinema was the third widescreen cinema in those days-equipped for 70mm I think as well as the ABC Coleshill Street-the latter now demolished for the super-duper extension in 1969 to Aston University.

The West End took all the overload from the Gaumont Cinerama and ABC Bristol Road in those days when Julie Andrews was humping herself(did i say that?LOL)all over the Austrian alps in the 3-year Sound of Music marathon at the Gaumont, and Julie(again) in Star in Todd-Ao at the ABC Bristol Road for a six-month period.The West End featured on the “Suffolk Street” page of DJNorton’s website-maybe we should e-mail the guy and tell him what a dream his pictures are to us?

smoothie
smoothie on January 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Woody. Where are the “subrubs” of Nottingham eh? LOL Remember this a respectable information site LOLOL