The Savoy Cinema in Our Rocking Days

Courtesy of Rex Kellar

Savoy was owned by a man named CV De Silva, who is said to have started life providing entertainment for overseas troops stationed here during World War II. It took its name from the more famous Savoy cinema of London.

In the fifties, it was the scene of a commotion never seen in the annals of Sri Lankan cinema when they screened the 1956 musical film Rock Around the Clock, featuring Bill Haley and the Comets, when some Burgher boys attending the evening show got into a frenzy and started dancing inside the cinema. The police had to be brought in to quell the situation as the poor fellows were deemed a nuisance to the rest of the audience. Among the better-known films it showed in the 1960s were Gun Fever, Lady Chatterly’s Lover and The Case Against Brooklyn. They also showed the James Bond Movies Dr.No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball, the first evening screenings of which were given to the Students Wing of the Ceylon Moor Youth League as benefit shows.

Back in the 60s, it had Usherettes, mainly Burgher women, clad in white frocks and red and white dotted cravats with a torch in hand to show cinema-goers their seats, and who in the intervals would make another appearance holding trays filled with sweets and ice chocs. The gallery cost 50 cents, second class 1 Rs, first class 2 Rs and balcony 3 Rs. The Savoy building back then also had a mini bookshop in the foyer that sold a variety of comics, mainly Dell comics, with titles such as Roy Rogers and Lone Ranger. There were also a couple of shops in the building that faced Galle Road, including a clothes shop known as Himalayas run by a Sindhi family, and Savoy Emporium, which dealt in medicines and groceries.



Filed under British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, charitable outreach, cultural transmission, modernity & modernization, performance, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, world events & processes

2 responses to “The Savoy Cinema in Our Rocking Days

  1. Pingback: Redemption Christmas for the Burghers in Sydney This November | Thuppahi's Blog

  2. Michael, Have such fond memories of the Savoy! I was a member of the Saturday Club… every Saturday afternoon… Introduced to such classics as Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Danny Kaye… My fascination and love for the Silver Screen has never diminished! Love

    *Jeni xxx*

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