Golden age of cinema celebrated by Paisley author

The golden age of cinema in Paisley is celebrated in the latest book by Paisley author Brian Hannan.

Paisley at the Pictures the Sequel: 1951 is a sequel to his well received Paisley at the Pictures: 1950, which was published in 2019.

With eight cinemas on the go in 1951, it’s clear Buddies loved the big screen and it was while giving talks on the 2019 book that Brian realised there was another book to be written.

Brian said: “I had been giving talks on the first book and people kept asking what happened next.

“When I returned to the Heritage Centre to undertake the research, I discovered another treasure trove of cinematic memories covering 1951 when the town had eight cinemas going full blast showing over 1,200 films a year.”

The new book, which is considerably larger than the first, has double the number of illustrations and takes a special look at the arrival of the ‘Super Cinemas’ of the 1930s, the Kelburne and the Regal.

There is also a section of reminiscences based on feedback from people of all ages who attended the talks.

Brian said: “It was fascinating to hear from Paisley cinemagoers about their experiences, their favourite cinemas and films.

“I learned about Doris Bamford playing the organ at the Regal and that people would go to the cinema on a specific day of the week. And that the ‘bug hut’ was the nickname for the Astoria.”

Films generally ran for a very short time compared to now, with most screenings lasting just three days.

The big films of the 1951 were British war film Odette, biopic The Great Caruso starring Mario Lanza, Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright with Marlene Dietrich, Cecil B DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and David Niven in Happy-Go-Lovely, which was shot in Edinburgh.

As in the previous year, the top star was a woman – Jane Wyman – followed by John Wayne, Joan Bennett, Glenn Ford and Virginia Mayo, who had held down the number one spot in 1950.

Other Paisley favourites included Fred Astaire, James Stewart, Abbott & Costello, Bing Crosby and Burt Lancaster.

Heading the B-movie brigade were Gene Autry westerns. Cinemagoers who attended the West End, New Alex and Astoria cinemas could depend on the bonus of a serial such as Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Batman and Robin.

The year 1951 was also the beginning of the sci-fi boom, with titles like The Flying Saucer.

It’s been a big year for historian Brian, who has also published The Glen Cinema Disaster, Paisley 1929.

He has now featured in three podcasts, including one for Oxford University, delivered several Zoom talks and has been invited to take part in a major conference at Dublin University.

Paisley at the Pictures the Sequel: 1951 is priced £10 and can be purchased at the Post Office in Neilston Road, Paisley, and Tulloch the Butchers, in Glenburn, as well as online from Abbey Bookshop in Wellmeadow Street and the White Hart gift shop in the High Street, as well as Amazon.

Daily Record – Paisley