Seeing in the Dark

Source: Ivor Cutler, in Ian Breakwell and Paul Hammond (eds.), Seeing in the Dark: A Compendium of Cinemagoing (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1990), p. 18

Text: Mosspark Picture House. 1927. Saturday matinee. Age four. A gothic thriller. The tall lantern jawed villain in top hat and tails plays an organ. I am terrified and run home as fast as I can. Years of nightmare. Age thirty-four. I buy a harmonium – nearly an organ – and spent the rest of my life playing it, thickened with doleful dirges, vainly trying to lay the trauma, my only satisfaction the ashen faced, staring eyed audiences, staggering out at the end of the performances, primed, and ready to carry on the good work.

Comment: Ivor Cutler (1923-2006) was a Scottish poet, author, musician and humourist, whose doleful works were often accompanied by the harmonium. The film he recalls is presumably The Phantom of the Opera (USA 1925), starring Lon Chaney. Mosspark is an area of Glasgow. Seeing in the Dark is a collection of commissioned reminiscences of cinemagoing.


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