Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

At that time, this $ 600,000 cinema was considered luxurious. It was declared open by His Highness Raja Sir Izzudin Shah ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil (the Sultan of Perak), on the eve of Chinese New Year. Designed by B M Iversen, this fully air-conditioned cinema (with its ‘colossal 75-foot tower of jade tiles’), stood proud along Cockman Street – the same area which was once ‘home’ to rubber trees!

This picture was taken on the opening night; after the grand ceremony, the patrons were treated to Darryl F Zanuck’s ‘CinemaScope 55′ production of – you guessed it – The King and I. How many of you out there were at the opening ceremony? How many of you ‘fell in love’ with the movie?

We’d like to thank Ruth Rollit (the daugther of B M Iversen) for sending us this precious photograph.

  1. sally says:

    Watched many movies in this cinema…and I think Lido, Ruby theatre was also nearby. Ruby showed mainly chinese movies….One of my former classmate worked as an usher, after she left school at this cinema too. And, there were lots of hawkers outside the cinema selling ice drinks, cut fruits…etc.

  2. 5candles says:

    I had my first excursion to a cinema here. The plot of the movie I remember but not the name. Maybe Felicia can help me out here since we are both closer in age. Two star-crossed lovers, male lead a panther/puma by night & the leading lady in human form but when day breaks, she turns into an eagle & he in human form. There’s only a momentary period just before dawn when both take human forms. Tried Googling this info but could not find the movie’s name & it has been bugging me since the post on “Cycling Along Cockman Street”. Argh! Well after that movie I had my first taste of KFC diagonally across the road. I think it cost RM4.50 then. Anyone here has a habit of keeping movie stubs? The earliest one I kept was either from Lido or Cathay at RM4.50 per show. Got to dig them out & check what was the first movie stub that I kept.

  3. 5candles says:

    I also remember all the giant posters advertising the movies currently being shown & upcoming ones, especially at Cathay as I travel home from school, because they were hand-painted. Some were really good as the artists were able to capture,paint & draw the actors’ faces. But at times, they were way off & I had a good laugh coz so cartoonish. It’s a dead art, right?

  4. felicia says:

    Hi 5Candles! the movie was called “LadyHawk” (if i remember correctly). i didn’t see it in the cinema though…saw it on TV when i was a kid :-)

  5. 5candles says:

    You are a saviour Felicia! Imagine keying in mistaken info; no wonder why I could not get the right answer-wolf+hawk instead of puma/panther+eagle. Now I can rest in peace :P

  6. Charlie says:

    In one of the other Posts on Cinemas, I read some comments that some of the Cinemas were showing X-rated movies. I believe this was quite common during the eighties as the cinema going crowd was getting less and less. This however was not legal, and the Cinema Managers were taking a risk for the sake of business.
    During the Sixties, censorship was not so strict, and Cathay and Lido used to sometime show “Adult” Movies. These were quite mild by today’s standards I suppose, with some topless scenes, that’s all!
    I remember one time, my Dad took me to Cathay, for such a show, and although the poster says “Strictly for Adults Only” my Dad bought a halfpriced child ticket for me!!!! You could get a halfpriced ticket if you are under 12 years old, and I was about 10 at the time.

  7. felicia says:

    Hi Charlie. these days, half the movie is butchered by the Censors and YET the movie is tagged “18 SX”….hahahaha…..if they’ve censored everything, why bother putting a rating?

  8. Ken Chan says:

    Those so-called ‘Adults Only’ movies that were screened in the late 1960′s were really not X-rated per se. These films had a provocative theme and were given a ‘Pink Certificate’ by the Film Censors Board because they were classified as entertainment that were more suitable for mature or adult moviegoers. Nevertheless, the effects of heavy-handed censorship were still obvious though overall, the films were more revealing than the run-of-the-mill movies we see every day The earlier batch of “Pink Certificate’ movies that made its way pass the film censors were more daring in pandering to our base instincts. However, when complaints from religious groups were resonating louder with each passing day, the films were once again butchered beyond recognition. As a result, this genre of movie entertainment died a natural death in due course. One of the earliest and most sensational ‘Pink Certificate’ movie was a Japanese flick that had an equally controversial title, – “The Seducer”. Other noteworthy hits like “Fanny Hill” and “Madame Bovary” (based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel) were also popular winners at the box office. Despite all the hoopla, these exploitative movies were not even comparable to soft-core porn like Marilyn Chambers’ “Behind The Green Door” or Linda Lovelace’s “Deep Throat”. The cinema industry was governed by arbitrary and unrelenting censorship rules at that time. The brief escapade that was brought about by the release of these “Pink Certificate’ movies was like an intoxicating dose of steroid that jump started our raging hormones. Nowadays, with pornography so readily available online and from bootleg DVDs, adult movies and for that matter, adult movie theaters have definitely seen better days.

  9. Ken Chan says:

    Hi Felicia,
    I have seen the 3 ‘Pink Certificate’ flicks that were mentioned while I was still in Ipoh. In reality, these movies may be sensational at that time but it would be deemed as comparatively tame by current standards. In those days, I did get a kick out of it but the novelty wore off rapidly. I would much rather watch a classic movie or read a good book that has timeless appeal. ‘Madame Bovary’ was one of the required books when I took European literature as an elective during my university days. Needless to say, the book was much better than the movie. I was rather apprehensive when I first signed up for this course but it turned out to be a very fulfilling experience. The course material really opened up my mind to the amazing world of the written word. In addition to the main text, I was required to read more than a dozen supplementary books, including some that had a related theme, like ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’ and ‘The Scarlet Letter’. In most cases, behind the tainted reputation of a chastised woman, there is a heart-wrenching story of a person who was maligned because of some basic human flaws. As for ‘Behind The Green Door’ and ‘Deep Throat’, I watched them in some fraternity house parties. Those were the days when I would not hesitate to partake in all kinds of activities that crossed my path.

  10. felicia says:

    Yes, Ken….nothing like reading a good book or watching a classic movie!
    i admit sometimes i’m a bit weary of movies that have been adapted from books – most of the time, the book turns out to be better than the movie. perhaps, the directors and script-writers have their own interpretation of the book, hence the movie turns out such?

  11. Ken Chan says:

    Felicia, the same can be said about plays too. In many instances, the stage adaptation of some famous plays are much more entertaining than the screen version. Just to name a few examples, ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Mama Mia’ were regarded as exemplary musicals that really resonated very well with live audience. However, when Hollywood churned out the movie version, the response was all but mediocre. Despite having A-list actors and actresses in the starring roles. both movies did not register a blip on everyone’s entertainment radar. While watching the stage version of ‘Mama Mia’ , almost everyone was on their feet in the final moments of the play, dancing and clapping in unison with the cast. This impact and spontaneity was obviously missing when I saw the movie version in the cinema.

  12. LMS136 says:

    Aside from the characterization skills , it is extremely difficult for the actors and actresses (for not want of trying) to successfully portray powerfully and graphically all the emotions of the characters and the moods of the occasions so vividly described in words in a book . Time is also against them in regard to the length of the film as our attention span can barely survive 2 hours let alone 3 . Another reason may be that, audience generally find films featuring long and involved dialogues very boring .

    A well written book which can be read leisurely and reflected upon thus has these inherent advantages which films cannot as yet compete against .

    As regard the powerful impact that stage plays project , celluloid films , even a life recording of a stage play , can only come off second best . Eventually , the use of 3-D film technology may help somewhat but this is likely to be marginal . There’s nothing like seeing the actors and actresses live , in person , in flesh and blood before one’s eyes . What’s also missing from films is the chemistry , the magnetism and the “current” which flow between the performers and a live audience , registering instant rapport , reactions , and feedback . Applauses , cheers , boos , gasps and groans project a very strong undercurrent to form the atmosphere .

    Roughly compared , it is like the difference between watching a football match live and one captured , even “live” , on TV . The atmosphere and the mood is sorely lacking in the latter .

  13. HomesickforIpoh says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing those older pictures of Cathay
    in the late 50′s and 60′s.

    Does anyone have a picture of Cathay when it showed “Oliver”.
    That was the most glamorous dislay I have ever seen when they
    even decorated the area across the street where “A & W” is
    with a giant size standee like 40 feet tall.

    I have some pictures of the building from 1997 and 1998 in its
    final glorious days that I like to share after I scanned it in.
    Anyone interested in seeing them?

  14. ika says:

    Wow HomesickforIpoh, welcome to our world, you certainly joined us with a bang with 4 interestind sets of cinema reminiscences. Thank you for those and we look forward to more of the same.

    Regarding your photos, we are always interested in receiving anything from Ipoh and the Kinta Valley even if it was only taken yesterday as of course, yesterday is already history!

    Could you therefore scan your pix at a high resolution (600dpi is perfect) and email to us at info@ipohworld.org. Thank you. We look forward to being able to post them.

  15. Ken Chan says:

    Hi HomesickforIpoh,
    Having read your recent comments that pertain to cinemas, there is no doubt that you are the quintessential movie fan. There were several versions of “Oliver” and the one you were referring to was probably the 1968 musical adaptation, starring Mark Lester as Oliver, Ron Moody as Fagin, and Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger. This was also the 1st “Oliver” movie that was filmed in color and it received critical acclaim, winning several academy awards, including an Oscar for best picture. In cinema-industry jargon, those giant posters are called cutouts, standees are the smaller cardboard displays that were strategically placed in the cinema’s lobby. In those days, movie exhibitors went to great lengths to publicize a blockbuster and the entire entire cinema and its surrounding areas were elaborately adorned with publicity material to promote the movie. Some of the most memorable displays I have ever seen were for movies like “Bridge On The River Kwai”. “Cleopatra”, and the “Star Wars” trilogy. Ever since stand-alone cinemas became almost extinct, cutouts and other bulky theater-front displays were also a thing of the past. Most multi-screen cineplexes share a common lobby and there is just not enough space for elaborate displays. On the flip side, times have also changed because the internet has become an effective tool in promoting new movies releases, and point of sale promotion and displays in cinemas are not important anymore.

  16. felicia says:

    Hi Ken. couldn’t agree more. cineplexes don’t have much lobby-space….sometimes such cutouts are even suspended from the ceiling! while movie trailers are effective at promoting the movie, sometimes the trailers give away too much of the plot; there have been occasions where the trailer was so impressive that it seemed better than the movie itself :-D

  17. Terry says:

    Stopped me in my track when I saw this picture of Cathay cinema…..fondest memories started to flow back. My dad was the area supervisor of Cathay Organisation and the manager of this cinema in Ipoh for many years. This is over 45 years ago. Having a dad working in that position have its privileges …….meaning I was able to watch any movies in any of the Cathay Organisation cinemas…….Ruby , Odean. Remember whenever my dad had to look after me , he will just take me to work and sit me in cinema to watch a film.Think I must have seen Sound of Music about 50 times Always look forward to films when they have an interval ( think King and I was one ) when they serve refreshment ….. curry puffs , cakes eg. I was very young then when my dad retired but so much of my younger time were spent there , that I could go on writing about it. Thank you to all the comments posted on here…..yes , those were the good old days lol. When I am home the next time , I certainly will try to find out more of those years from my ageing mum. Think there are also boxes of old photos lying about somewhere ( my dad was a keen photographer_).Might discover some interesting ones that I could maybe post on here if anyone is interested. Once again, thank you.

  18. ika says:

    Terry, welcome to ourworld. Please do look for those old photoraphs when you can, we are always happy to get more for our archive before our social history and heritage disappears for ever. Do also let us know when you are back in Ipoh. We would be delighted to say Hi.

  19. Ignatius Chiew says:

    Just a clarification. My dad was the first manager when it opened in 1957. Teh L S was the area supervisor for North Malaya, Cathay Organisation (Malaya) Ltd. The supervisor was the immediate boss of the managers of cinemas owned/operated by the organisation in Perak and the northern states. Top management were in Cathay, Singapore and the man at the apex was Loke Wan Tho.

  20. Terry says:

    Hi Ignatius Chiew…….a bit of a late reply but thanks for the clarification. Teh Lean Seng is my dad. Like I said , I was then very young……too young to know or understand much or maybe just was not interested of the adult world. What I can recall are of the fond exciting time I spent as a little kid at all the cinemas…….in the projector room, watching the next film poster being hand painted eg. Though my mum have talk to me about my dad’s job, its always interesting to find out more……thanks Ignatius. Any chance your family might know my family ?

  21. Ignatius Chiew says:

    Hi Terry! Yes, my father was in the same office as your father. In the picture the glass panels of the office is next to the round shape (under “55″ in the advert). Our parents know one another. As kids we enjoyed seeing shows gratis upstairs in the reserved or circle seats.

  22. thunderchild says:

    terry,
    yes, it’s shen. you can run but you can’t hide. lol.
    fancy meeting you here on this august blog. it looks like we’re both pining for our hometown.

  23. Terry says:

    Hi Ignatius. Yes,I remember the office. Remember spending time in there picking stamps off opened envelopes under my dads desk for my stamps collection. Your recollection of it all certainly surpasses my disappointing memory of that past. Interesting to know our parents know each other. Certainly would like to know more especially of your family. Are you on facebook?. If you like to keep intouch and maybe catch up more on those good ole days……….search and add me , Terry Teh from London. Cheers

  24. Dylan says:

    I was born in the mid 80s but grew up watching movies in these cinema. Thanks for posting all these amazing photos, it brought back so much fond memories although I didn’t get to see these cinemas in their heyday. I particularly miss those stalls that sold fruits and local snacks and I prefer those over popcorn and chili dogs.

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