Friday, November 11, 2005

Mr Sean Connery Must Ride In On A Milkfloat Of Human Kindness And Save Edinburgh's Beautiful Cameo Cinema

I read in The Herald that Edinburgh's Cameo Cinema is to be sold, and its main auditorium transformed into a "super-bar".
Oh, how the heart sinks.
I have a great fondness for many of the Capital's picture houses, and a great many of them have disappeared. But the Cameo is a special place, which should be treasured. It has stood on the same site since 1914, when it opened as the King's Cinema - a companion to the King's Theatre, across the street. Although it spent some of the 198os in the doldrums, most of its essential architecture is intact.
It is a lovely place, and one of the few cinemas in Scotland where it is possible to experience the thrill of going to the pictures as it used to be. True, the live orchestra is no longer in attendance, but the Cameo's interior marks it out as Edwardian palace of entertainment, which has a long tradition of showing continental films. I remember the excitement in 1963, when a Milk Bar was added to the cinema, and for a while, the local papers carried advertisements wth the image of that famous milkman, Mr Sean Connery, implying that 007 could be glimpsed nightly in the bar, sipping a pinta.
Clearly, Lothian Road is not in need of a super-bar. By evening, the area around the Usher Hall and the already-defiled Caley Palais cinema is like one of the outer rings of Hell, as it fills with aggressive, under-dressed teenagers trying to cram a lifetime's pleasure into an evening of over-indulgence. The King's Theatre is already a shadow of itself, but to add the Cameo to the endless happy hour of Lothian Road would be an act of unforgiveable cultural vandalism.
Does Edinburgh still have a council? Is it too much to hope that it will stand against the licensing trade, and the forward march of crude money?
Also, what of 007? Well, Mr Connery is to receive the Life Achievement Award, the highest accolade of the American Film Institute. Closer to home, one often hears of schemes by which Scotland's greatest film star is to be commemorated. The Cameo is five minutes walk from the dairy where young Tam Connery used to work. Let him buy the place, and keep the special intimacy of a beautiful cinema alive.


Learson said...

There is a jaunty collectivist ring to your phrase "the forward march of crude money" but if you are inviting your readers to suppose that if Mr Connery's Hollywood-derived, tax-exile status lucre were employed in purchasing the premises then the moral tone might be elevated,you may be disappointed. I know that nostalgia is a form of pain and that the latter can cloud one's judgement whilst concomitantly raising the blood-pressure but please consider it possible that you may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

It's about time Connery put some of his money back in Scotland, and keeping the Cameo as a cinema would preferable to allowing another bar in an area that is overrun with pubs.

Anonymous said...

"keeping the Cameo as a cinema would preferable to allowing another bar in an area that is overrun with pubs."

Agreed. Overrun with pubs and lapdancing establishments.
The Cameo is a fabulous place and deserves to be saved.