Archive for May 7th, 2007

From Kachang To Popcorn (Part 1)

When was the last time I visited the cinema? My son is probably the one who is very keen to watch the large screen while my daughter prefer to snack (especially the popcorn) in the aircon and cushioned comfort. Definitely much have changed for the large screen since my time till now – at least in the past we were cruching 5 cents or 10 cents kachang puteh and now the popcorn is more expensive than my movie ticket in the past!

I came across this DVD Oliver Twist when I was shopping at that new Giant outlet at Pasir Ris/Tampines sometime last month.

The first time I watched this movie was probably in the 70s when my godsisters brought me to Cathay Cinema (or Capitol…?).

Prices of movie has gone up trememdously and also the movie ticket appearance has changed too. Here is a peep at the old movie ticket in the 60s and it’s price;

Credit : Singapore National Museum

Here is a postcard of the Cathay Cinema in 1954;

You may see the Cathay Building in the background of this photo of Bras Basah Road in the past;

The Capitol in the 60s (you may still see the Tram line hanging in the air);

Frankly I’ve not been to this 2 places for a long long time. It’s so convenient to watch a movie nowadays – just drop by any Cineplex in any town centre and you have the whole lists for you to choose. In the past, we had to travel quite a distance to the cinema if we were not staying nearby. Luckily, my godmother was staying at Beatty Road which was walking distance to those cinemas at New World Amusement Park. In fact in the past, most cinemas were standalone buildings and there was no such thing as cinemplex. So you went to the cinema in the past and the sole purpose was to watch a movie; nowadays it’s shopping, eating, game arcade, library, etc…all in one building.

Though eating and shopping were not in the same building as the cinema in the past, but they were usually located nearby like those at Odeon Cinema in the past. See this 70s map below;

The above map shows the location of Odeon and Jubilee Theatre (directly opposite to Odeon) in 1976. The Odeon Theatre is now Odeon Tower while the Jubilee Theatre was gone and the space occupied by Raffles Hotel (expansion).

How many of us still remember the bomb scare at Odeon in 1963? See the Jubilee Theatre in the below photo of that bomb scare;

Here is a better view of the Odeon Theatre;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Frankly between Odeon and Jubilee, I find Jubilee much more attractive theatre to “archive” if possible. Let’s take a look at the old Jubilee.

Jubilee Theatre in the 50s;

In 1985, the Jubilee getting ready to go;

Before it go, take a final look at this pair of lion head;

and not forgetting the grand interior;

Here is the favourite snack for the movies in the past – Kachang Putel which probably cost about 10cents to 20cents depending on types;

Above 5 Photo Creadits : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

So that’s how the Victorian style playhouse theatre named Jubilee Hall located on the 3rd floor of Raffles Hotel come about.

OK here is another cinema where one usually will not be able to go unless he/she has a car or some form of transport in the past – Jurong Drive-In Cinema. It was opened on 14 July 1971 and closed on 30 September 1985.

Credit : Adeline Tan and Cathay Organisation

I remember I’ve been there twice only as I really don’t find it comfortable watching the movie inside a car. The aircon was usually turned off as the car engine was off too and the speakers are put into the car. It looked something like this;

Photo Credit :

Those who drove there to watch the movie were usually couples, but did they really watch the show or ….?

Now most of the old standalone cinemas building have been converted to Church or other uses. Came across this Fairfield Methodist Church in March 2007 at Maxwell Road;

and who can tell that it’s actually the Metropole Theatre (shown in the postcard during the 60s) in the past;

So the R(A)s movies were finally approved to be screened in the cinemas in the 90s, I think, but it didn’t seems to survive for long…except for one cinema that is still surviving – Yangtze Cinema. Though I’ve been there before but I’ve yet to watch a show in that cinema! Heard it’s called the “Cheekopek” cinema (a cinema for those cheeky old men).

The Yangtze Cinema located at Pearls Centre, Eu Tong Sen street;

Here is The Majestic theatre nearby;

It’s was converted into a shopping mall since 2003. It was built in 1927 by the tin mining and rubber magnate Mr. Eu Tong Sen specially for his wife who loved Cantonese Opera. So it was known as Tien Yien Moh Toi Theatre for the Cantonese opera then. Later the Shaw Brother rented it and renamed it as Queen’s Theatre for screen Cantonese movies. After the Japanese Occupation in 1945, the Majetic Film company rented it and renamed it as Majestic Theatre. In 1956 Cathay Organisation bought over it from the Eu family, and continued screening Chinese movies until 1998.

We should not confused this renamed Queen’s Theatre with the one at Geylang Lor 42 which was also known as Queen’s Theatre in the 70s.

So we have Majestic Theatre, Queen’s Theatre; do we have King’s Theatre? Yes we did, at Kim Tian Road (Tiong Bahru) then;

The King’s Theatre is now gone and the area is occupied by housing estate. The King’s Theatre and the Jubilee Theatre were owned by Eng Wah Organisation in the 60s.

Also not to forget about the once popular Prince Theatre located at Beach Road. Yes, think I watched that fantastic JAWS movie there. I used to go there as after watching the shows, I would shopped at that building. There were 2 shops inside selling those “branded” products like lighters, pen, wallets, belts, etc… Of course when the movie business went bad, the Prince theatre later became Prince 1 and Prince 2 as like most other cinemas. Of course in the same building, there was Jade Theatre too and then later Jade 1 and Jade 2. Both Prince and Jade were opened in 1977 by Shaw Organisation at located at Shaw Tower.

This is the new Shaw Plaza Twin Heights which is a total “Face Lift” from the old Hoover Cinema at Balestier Road;

I remember driving to the multi-storey carpark behind on weekend to sell my used car as it was popular to use some designated multi-storey carparks  as “Used Car Mart” then.

Whenever I pick up my wife at Concourse, I will passed by Golden Theatre at Beach Road;

Though now I will think of the delicious curry puff at the basement of that building, but in the past it’s totally different. I used to patronise one shop there selling posters. I bought some and resell them house to house when I was 17 or 18 years old earning some pocket money – my first outdoor sales job hehe!

Well watching a movie and going to the theatre or cinema was such a memorable thing in the past but not now anymore. It cost much more to watch a movie for a family of four including meals and snacks. So renting a dvd to watch at home quickly catches up for us, at least. Unless it’s English shows like Harry Potter where the kids enjoy it, else it’s no go to the large screen.

To be continued in Part 2…


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May 2007