Tag Archives: Film

saturday night at the movies.

(Paul Fitzpatrick: London – April 2021)

I think it was the author Ralph Waldo Emerson who said ‘life is a journey not a destination’, which is a quote that grows in relevance as the years roll on.

His quote is relatable to me in a few ways, one of them being how tastes and preferences change… take wine for instance, most of us started off thinking we were quite sophisticated when we cast aside the sweet taste of Blue Nun for the dryer more sophisticated Piesporter…. and when we started drinking Beaujolais, hell, we thought we were French!

Similar with music, similar with food, similar with books, similar with a lot of things – we grow, we evolve and our tastes develop,

Take going to the cinema as an example of changing times and tastes.

The first big transition was being able to go to the cinema on your own and for many of us I guess that meant Saturday mornings spent at the the ABC minors club.

Those weekly events were a big step towards your adolescent freedom… pure independence from the minute you left your house and hopped onto the bus or train with your mates until the minute you got back.

Minors of the ABC anthem

For those that remember, the ABC minors club was a feast of cartoons and old black and white movies like The Lone Ranger or The Three Stooges, with a few pop hits of the day thrown in at the intervals to allow you to fill your face with sugar and additives (unless they’ve changed the Kia-ora recipe?).

Jump forward a few years and the next stage of my cinematic journey involved going on dates… with chicks to the flicks.

Saturday night at eight o’clock
I know where I’m gonna go,
I’m gonna pick my baby up,
And take her to the picture show.


Saturday night at the movies,
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re huggin’ with your baby in
the last row in the balcony?

Sounds romantic doesn’t it, but it never quite worked out that way.
there was no pickin’ your baby up for a start, she was usually dropped off and collected outside The Rio cinema in Bearsden by an overprotective Dad, drawing daggers at you as you waited outside the cinema, drenched in Brut (with no charisma).


Looking back…. sitting in silence, side by side, in a large room with no lights was probably the perfect scenario for all involved, particularly when you were a 13/14-year-old monosyllabic boy with a bad haircut.

Back then, I hadn’t mastered the art of small-talk, (or banter, or bantz as it’s now called) or even basic conversation, so what could I chat to girls about when the only topics I could talk about with any authority were football and…. well actually nothing else, just football really.

It was clear therefore, that the perfect setting for this total lack of discourse was the dark silence of the local fleapit, regardless of what film was viewing.

Of course, what goes on in the back row stays in the back row so there’s going to be no juicy gossip shared here, but as most of you will remember, 75% of the film was spent contorting your arm around the shoulder of your date, 24.5% was spent fighting cramp and building up the courage to make that awkward next move…. and if you eventually overcame all your fears and anxieties, then you maybe got to share a wee snog for 90 seconds before the lights came on… realising you’d missed the conclusion to the film.

I was genuinely gutted to learn years later that General Custer did not survive the Battle of Little Bighorn, and that (spoiler alert) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Bonnie and Clyde also perished in the dying embers of said movies.
No wonder there were no sequels!

Where The Drifters got it spot-on however, was that when you were that young it genuinely didn’t matter what film was on… the event was everything.

Within a couple of years however, it was a different story, you started to become a bit more discerning about the movies you wanted to see, and it’s at this stage X rated movies came onto the radar.

In your mid-teens gaining admission to an (18) was a badge of honour but as things transpired some of the best features at that time just happened to be X-rated.  

As an example, five of the best movies of that period were all (18) X-rated……

A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist, Enter the Dragon The Godfather 2 and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

A Clockwork Orange was a strange one, it was probably my least favourite of the five, but culturally it had a huge impact on us back then.

Within a couple of weeks of seeing it the impressionable ones amongst us were wearing Crombie coats, white sta-prest trousers and nicking our Dad’s umbrellas so we could be suede-heads and strut about like Malcolm McDowall’s character, even in the rare days that the sun was splitting the sky…
We must have looked like the numpties we undoubtedly were.

The cinematic landscape has changed a lot since then.



I can think of six cinemas that I used to go to regularly in that period, only one, The Grosvenor in Hillhead, remains open as a cinema, the rest are flats or in the case of The Salon, also in Hillhead, a trendy bar (Hillhead Bookclub) where patrons play ping-pong and drink concoctions called coconut firecrackers.

I have mixed emotions when I go there now, trying to work out where I used to sit, and remember who with.

It’s nostalgic to see the remnants of the great old cinema, but it’s also poignant to think of all the fantastic movies, the nervy first dates and the collective memories that the grand old building harbours.


Who knows what the old playhouse will be transformed into next but at least we still have access to it today…. which is a blessing.

Inside the Hillhead Book Club, Glasgow. Formerly the Salon cinema.

We all seem to be time-challenged these days but if you needed to kill 4 or 5 hours in the 70s there used to be some great double bills available to see…. a couple I remember with relish were Blazing Saddles + Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Midnight Express + Taxi Driver.

Thinking back… including intermissions each of those double bills accounted for approximately 5 hours’ worth of entertainment…. even the 70’s adverts were hilarious.

Is it any wonder then, that these old cinemas went out of business? Nowadays a blockbuster will be shown on a loop, five or six times a day on one screen in a multiplex that has 10 separate screens…. so up to 60 showings a day.
Compare this to two showings a day on one screen in the old style cinemas and do the maths…

I guess it’s just another example of changing and developing tastes…. we start off as impressionable kids thinking that nothing can beat these grainy old black and white movies on a Saturday morning…. that our local cinema is the most exotic place in the world, and before you know it, we’re watching computer animation in a 10-screen multiplex with queues a mile long waiting to buy rubber hotdogs, cardboard popcorn and a gallon of carbonated liquid for a small ransom…..

Sometimes, the ‘journey’ doesn’t always take you to a better destination!

For anyone who’s interested, here’s my top ten 70’s movies in no particular order, based on repeat viewings over the years…

  1. The Godfather
  2. The Godfather 2
  3. Blazing Saddles
  4. Monty Pythons The Life of Brian
  5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  6. Young Frankenstein
  7. The Sting
  8. The Jerk
  9. Rocky
  10. Saturday Night Fever

As a p.s. here’s some of those classic cinema ads from the 70’s, they don’t make ’em like this anymore….

Pearl & Dean
Taste of India
Kiaora Leonard Rossiter ad.
Babycham ad

you’re (not) gonna need a bigger quote.

(Post by George Cheyne of Glasgow – April 2021)

Ever sat and watched a new movie, heard a line of dialogue and said to yourself: Bet they’re still saying that in 40-50 years time.

Thought not. Well, you wouldn’t have much reason to, would you?

You’d be far more likely to be caught up with the visuals and plot when watching a film for the first time.

And yet, as the years roll by, there are certain quotes or phrases which become synonymous with movies. It’s as if they’re joined at the hip.

If I offer up: “Here’s looking at you, kid”…“I coulda been a contender”…“Bond. James Bond”…“I feel the need, the need for speed” and “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, the chances are you’d be able to identify Casablanca (1942), On The Waterfront (1954), Dr No (1962), Top Gun (1986) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Two things about these examples. Firstly, there are no representatives from the 1970s – be patient, we’ll come to that – and there is nothing from the 21st Century.

That was deliberate on my part. I feel you have to let these things evolve over time, let them weave their way into the fabric of popular culture and then – and only then – will they be considered classic lines of film dialogue.

The 1970s wasn’t too shabby when it came to marrying up blockbuster movies with killer lines, so here’s my top 10 quotable quotes from that era:

“May the Force be with you.”

Star Wars (1977)

The line by Harrison Ford’s Han Solo character – in a conversation with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – has inspired generations of kids wielding toy light-sabers ever since the film came out.

And it has been adopted by fans all over the world who celebrate May the fourth as their official Star Wars day.

“You talkin’ to me?”

Taxi Driver (1976)

No matter how many times you’ve seen the clip, it still has the ability to send a chill down your spine as Travis Bickle – played by Robert de Niro – talks to himself in the mirror.

He’s rehearsing for a big confrontation and the iconic scene leaves you in no doubt just what he’s capable of.

“I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This was a groundbreaking movie of the time and it gave us a groundbreaking performance by Jack Nicholson as asylum inmate Randle P McMurphy.

His memorable one-liner comes near the end when he’s planning a boozy last hurrah for everyone before making his escape from the institution.

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Apocalypse Now (1979)

There’s no getting away from this quote from Robert Duvall’s Vietnam War officer – it’s been ingrained in the public’s psyche for 40-odd years.

The full 12-inch disco remix version goes like this: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed for 12 hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill…smelled like victory.”

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Jaws (1975)

Roy Schneider delivers the line after his Chief Brody character gets up close and personal with the giant shark for the first time.

Movie fact: The phrase you still hear over and over again to this day was an ad-lib from Schneider as part of a production crew in-joke.

“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The Godfather (1972)

Despite the cotton wool filling his cheeks, Marlon Brando manages to sound calm and menacing at the same time when he says this.

It’s Don Corleone assuring godson Johnny Fontane he will win the race to land a part in a big Hollywood movie. And he does win it..by a horse’s head!

“Toga, toga!”

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

More of a chant than a phrase, but it’s still one of the endearing moments from the movie depicting the ups and downs of the Deltas fraternity house.

John Belushi – as manic Bluto – starts it off to lift the spirits of his frat brothers and it turns into a full-blown raucous drink-fuelled bash. Paaaarty!

“You gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya…punk?”

Dirty Harry (1971)

This one comes after Clint Eastwood’s edgy cop corners the baddie at a disused quarry – and you just know the showdown can only end one way.

Tough-talking Clint gives him the spiel about how he can’t remember if he’s fired five shots or six, allowing his crazed perp the chance to go for his gun…and, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

Network (1976)

When newscasters go off script with a rant like this, they have the ability to make the news themselves.

Peter Finch’s Howard Beale character, resplendent in trench coat and striped pyjamas, is at the centre of the outburst when he urges his viewers to rise up and howl at the moon.

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Life of Brian (1979)

The Monty Python crew nailed it with this scene when John Cleese’s leader of the People’s Front of Judea tries to whip up some agitation against the Romans.

By the time he’s finished, his watered-down diatribe becomes: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health..what have the Romans ever done for us?” Genius!

So what have the screenwriters ever done for us? Well, for a start, these unsung heroes of the movie business have given us a legacy that will last forever.

And in doing so they have debunked the myth that a picture is worth a thousand words. Turns out all you need is a handful of well-crafted memorable ones.