I remember it like yesterday – Christmas 1963 was the first time I was allowed to go to the movies with friends. Even though we lived in Seaford, on the eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay, our family spent every holiday of a week or more in Bundaberg with my mother’s parents. It was one of the best times of my life.
Bundy, despite being one of the larger towns on the coast of Queensland, had a real village mentality – and I mean that in the best possible way. It was as safe as houses for children to play almost anywhere. Everyone in town looked out for you. My parents never had to worry about me. Grandpa was an electrician – the first in Bundy I was told. He had the first radio and the first TV in town – more than a hundred people would sit on the footpath to listen to the radio broadcasts in the evenings. An imposition for him, but he was a very generous man.
It was like being royalty – Ga-ga (Grandpa) owned the bottling rights to Coca Cola back then… it’s amazing that I still have my own teeth! I’m not sure whether Coke back then was really ‘CocaineCola’…but, boy did it taste good?! I’ve never had a soft drink since than that was soooo bubbly or tasty. Ga-ga used to take fresh mandarin juice to the factory, aerate and bottle it and bring it home as a treat for his two girls (my auntie and my mum) and one boy (my uncle).
Well, back to the story. There was only one cinema in town, ‘The Wintergarden Picture Palace’, and for sixpence (5 cents in today’s money…REALLY!) you got to see two late-release movies on the one bill. The downside was a bottle Fanta cost about 8 pence, and a box or packet of lollies was about sixpence too – and it wasn’t small. Dentists must have made a killing back then.
As I went for the first time without parents or an older brother, I went with my girl (YUCK) cousin, and I had to watch a girlie movie (usually an Elvis movie if she was coming) – the first one was It Happened at the World’s Fair. Naturally, I wanted to see the macho stuff like Jason and the Argonauts (see link at the end of the story).
Wow, I remember, so vividly, seeing Goldfinger in 1964 – it was the catalyst for me to become a secret agent in later life. HAH! I almost thought I was Bond until I turned 17. I didn’t take a girl to the movies, I took a women to expensive restaurants. Man, I was cool back then… although I never saved any money from my incredibly dangerous holiday job at the local quarry.
I believe that canvas bench seats are the most comfortable furniture ever invented. Well, I did back then. I was far too young to make out with a girl back then… not to mention I had no girlfriend (YUCK!) either.
Jaffas were the lolly of choice as they not only tasted good, but had wonderful acoustic qualities on wooden floors in large buildings. I’m convinced that modern theatres are carpeted to lessen the effect of mobile orange foodstuffs. Hmm… Jaffas and Fanta – what is it about the colour orange? Having said that, I have to say Fantales were the ultimate sweet – rich chocolate coating over hard caramel…in fact, they’re still my favourite sweet… I want some now!
It was an amazingly cathartic feeling being able to walk across town to the movies, play up something fierce in the cinema (well, we thought we did – I guess rolling a few orange balls along the floor wasn’t worth a night in the slammer). I guess we had more manners than kids do today. Besides, you didn’t want to waste too many of those yummy lollies.
I forgot to mention it, but if you wanted to watch the same bill again, no one cared. That definitely isn’t the case today.
Writing about this really takes me back – the smells, the sounds and the ambience you can’t replicate now. Even the terribly echo-y acoustics of the Wintergarden cinema added to the mystique of the occasion. This was my strongest feeling of freedom to date, and I felt so empowered my imagination ran away with, amongst others, Jason, his argonauts, James… James Bond, Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars), Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes), Steve McQueen (The Great Escape); and for my cousin it was too many Elvis films (31 at last count – see link at end of story), Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady), Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), Spencer Tracy (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)… and the list goes on.
Imagination, freedom, excitement – it all added up to a wonderful and endearing time for children…and I still love taking my girl to the cinema!
Watch clips from some of the best 60s movies below and tell us, what 60s movies did you love? What do you still love watching? Share your memories in the comments below…
A Fist full of Dollars, 1964
My Fair Lady, 1964
Mary Poppins, 1964