Chairman’s Introductory Speech at the 50th Anniversary Gala Evening, March 27th 2019
1968. The year Kinver Film Society was founded.
Cinemas were by then in rapid and seemingly terminal decline, but if you wanted to go to the pictures locally you were still spoilt for choice.
In 1968 there was no cinema in Kinver, but there used to be. The cleverly named Kinema which was situated in the High Street next to the White Hart first opened in 1921 obviously as a silent cinema but closed in 1930 unable to upgrade to sound. It was resurrected in 1956 but closed for good in 1961.
But you didn’t need to travel far if you wanted to go to the flics.
In 1968 Stourbridge still had two cinemas, The Savoy and The Odeon. The Littleton in Halesowen, (which had double seats on the back row, so I was told,) and The Royal and Majestic in Cradley Heath were still going strong, as were the Plaza and Odeon in Dudley. Even the Danilo in Brierley Hill was still in business although only just. In Kidderminster the ABC was still going, it closed in 1972.
So in this scenario of declining interest in cinema entertainment it was a pretty brave, or foolhardy decision by a few local enthusiasts to get together and form a film society.
Yet here we are half a century later celebrating its phenomenal success, and I am delighted to welcome Ann Parkes to our celebration, who together with her late husband Gerald, and others, created this society 50 years ago.
Gerald and Ann were the backbone of this society until very recently.
We have seen all our local cinemas close, together with a number of short lived rival film societies. Only three cinemas lasted for longer than 50 years, namely
The Plaza Dudley, 54 years,
The Savoy Stourbridge, 62 years
and the longest lived of all, The Royal, Cradley Heath, 75 years.
Many of the country’s so-called super cinemas, built in the 30’s and 40’s had relatively short lives of only 30 years or so, and of course in recent times we have witnessed the advent of the Multiplexes, which to some extent has revived the fortunes of the cinema industry.
So for a film society such as ours to be still thriving after half a century is indeed a noteworthy achievement.
The very first film shown by the society early in 1969 was Cul De Sac, a psychological thriller starring Donald Pleasance. It got the society off to a good start, so much so that in 1970 Kinver Film Society won the title of Film Society of the Year. Since then we have shown 755 films to date, initially on 16mm projectors, and in more recent times using DVD and Blu –Ray format as we strive to keep up with advances in digital technology.
It’s interesting to look back at the list of all the films we have shown over the last 50 years. The society has tended to go for popular cinema rather than minority interest films so often favoured by competitive societies, and this I think has been the secret of our success.
The list covers all categories and genres.
Period Dramas, Musicals, Comedy, Crime dramas, Blockbusters, Science Fiction, Foreign films, Romance, etc, etc..
I also noted a period in the 70’s when we had a number of films, notorious at that time, with interesting titles which seem to have been remarkably well received, such as
Diary of a Chambermaid
And not forgetting Canterbury Tales which is still a topic of conversation among certain committee members to this day
And in 1981 we showed the highly controversial, and brilliant Monty Python’s Life of Brian. That was interesting.
We should show it again some time.
You will, of course, have your own favourites. Have a look at the list, it’s on the website and well worth a visit.
So, what is the future for our society?
Well we need three things to enable us to keep going,
A thriving membership, a small band of dedicated and enthusiastic committee members, and a suitable theatre.
Membership does not seem to be a problem. We have for many years to my knowledge, had no difficulty in attracting a capacity membership.
Attracting some of those members onto the committee has been a little more problematic in recent times, but somehow we do find sufficient volunteers to enable us to keep going.
As chairman of the society for the last 10 years, you will have heard me from time to time make comments about being stuck in the job for life, like the Pope, but I have to say that it is not such an onerous task given the backing of an experienced, enthusiastic, and dedicated committee, some of whom have been doing the same job for the society for a great deal longer than I have. I consider it a privilege to head up this wonderful committee, without which this society would not exist, and our thanks go out to everyone who has contributed to the success of Kinver Film Society over the last 50 years and that includes all the members who have supported us.
As for a suitable theatre, we are very lucky to have access to the Kinver High School theatre which has served us admirably for many years. We would like to thank the administration staff and caretakers for their continuing support. Long may it continue.
The film chosen for tonight is The Italian Job. This is a digitally remastered version of the 1969 original starring Michael Caine, and so shares a 50th anniversary with our society.
27th March 2019