The Remains of Odeon, Tottenham Court Road, London
Home of "Windjammer"
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Images and text by: John Newman||Date: August 15, 2003|
|Press picture to see an enlargement|
I recall seeing "Windjammer" when it was presented in London Odeon Tottenham Court Rd. Strangely enough I now work near the site of this Odeon - now a Car Park by University of London Hospital (a sign says "Odeon Car Park").
No, not a drive-in - but this dusty car park is all that's left of the shell of the Odeon Tottenham Court Road, which in it's heyday showcased the London Presentation of "Windjammer" in Cinemiracle.
All that remains is a side wall which still shows the rake of the stalls with the original blue 3ft high paint of (presumably the side exit corridor) this runs down to part of the left side of the proscenium arch. It maybe just a car park but it brings back memories....
|Further in 70mm reading:|
in70mm.com's "Windjammer" in Cinemiracle page
"Windjammer" cast and credit
70mm Film in London
More information in "London's West End Cinemas" by Allen Eyles & Keith Skone (1991)
|Side of Proscenium Arch|
The Cinemiracle system was not all that brilliant but I enjoyed the showmanship and the big screen. I remember one scene where Grieg's Piano concerto was played on shore alongside a tall-ship. The sound quality was good but the mirror system for A & C projectors still had the obvious 3 strip process joins.
It's all a long time ago now, but it's funny how having re-discovered this location by chance - on seeing that Odeon Car park reference, it suddenly dawned on me that, yes, this is where I saw "Windjammer" in Cinemiracle one afternoon during the school holidays. I'd already seen "This is Cinerama" and this was the latest deep screen offering and we enjoyed every minute of it. Looking about, brought it all back.
|Car Park sign ("Odeon Car Park")|
Totally neglected now, this remnant is all that's left of the original proscenium arch (left side), once home to the giant deep curved cinemiracle screen. Odeon in Tottenham Court Road (at south east corner of Grafton Way intersection).
This small sign is the only acknowledgement of a showbiz past - all far from the salty spray of the three panel "Windjammer" epic.
Odeon, Tottenham Court Road Facts
|"What's On" June 13, 1958. Editors collection, courtesy Tony Sloman. Press picture to see enlargement.|
Opened February 10, 1936. Closed March 5, 1960. 2568 seats, reduced to around 1700 for "Windjammer". Cinemiracle screen size: 21,5 x 8,6 m (71 ft x 28½ ft). Original name was "Paramount". Renamed Odeon in November 1946.
I too always get a "nostalgia twinge"
|"What's On" September 12, 1958. Press picture to see enlargement.|
October 3, 2003
I too always get a "nostalgia twinge" whenever I pass that sunken car park on Tottenham Court Road. The screening of "Windjammer" was one of the last examples of cinema showmanship. The theatre's entire lobby was reconstructed to resemble the interior of a ship. After buying their ticket and in order to enter the auditorium, patrons had to walk across a bridge of wooden planks. An usher dressed in naval uniform tore the ticket in half. When the start of the performance was imminent, a large brass bell located beside the bridge was rung. Today, this all sounds a trifle ridiculous, but at that time The Kinematograph Weekly always included a "Showmanship" page and made awards to cinema managers throughout the country who devised the most original and imaginative publicity campaigns in order to promote their current offerings.
All The Best
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