It was 36 years ago today that Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. I was not one of the 28.4 million people who watched the event on British television, or one of the two million who lined the streets of London to see the happy couple, and nor was my father. Instead we went to a double bill of “dark romances” at the Electric Cinema in Portobello Road, “Double Indemnity” paired with “Sunset Boulevard”. That’s probably the last time we went to the cinema together. It was certainly the only time we went to the Electric together.
I hadn’t seen either movie before but my dad had, and quoted Edward G Robinson’s lines throughout “Double Indemnity”, all about the “little man” in his stomach that tells him something’s not right about a case. I have seen it a few times since (most recently at the NFT on Good Friday 1999) but haven’t seen “Sunset Boulevard” all the way through since then. I have driven down most of the Sunset Boulevard though, when my wife and I visited California in 2002. Memories of that trip prompted last week’s piece about The Formosa Café.
Back in 1981 I was a regular visitor to London’s repertory cinemas, places like the Electric, the Everyman in Hampstead and the Scala, which moved that summer to Kings Cross from its previous home in Charlotte Street. The Charlotte Street building became the headquarters of Channel 4, which began broadcasting the following year. The Scala had a different double bill that day in recognition of the Royal Wedding: “Bride of Frankenstein” and “I Married a Monster from Outer Space”.