Now a famous actor, as a child Jess Conrad used to crawl in round by the side of the cashier of the Brixton Ritzy cinema
My life was always in cinemas, never at school! I was lucky to grow up in Brixton with so many great cinemas around me. I recall the Astoria, a truly wonderful, wonderful theatre – which had a fishpond in the foyer, also nymphs and statuettes and was so atmospheric, it was sensational.
My favourite cinema really depended on the film playing at the time.
Along with the Regal, there was also what is now South London’s oldest operating picturehouse, the Electric Pavilion. We called it the ‘bughutch’ and the ‘fleapit’, but today it is the Brixton Ritzy. I never paid to get in, of course! In fact always used to bunk in, often helped by other people!
I felt sorry for the lady cashier as she seemed to be stuck in her paybox, which was right out on the street. She must have sweltered in Summer and froze in Wintertime. To avoid paying, I would get on my hands and knees and crawl in round by the side of the kiosk.
Into the Brixton Ritzy
It was an unusual cinema in that it played off-circuit releases. Aalso continental and subtitled films, and some of the more risqué fare, such as The Outlaw. On Sundays, there was always a double-bill and I mostly remember watching Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers and early King Kong films. The Pavilion was certainly run-down, its worn-out seats often had their springs pushing through. And the side-door was always open, meaning easy access in.