THIS IS THE ELECTRIC!
(From the 10th Anniversary Programme February 1979.)
The Electric Cinema Club is the only survivor of a group of independent, specialist cinemas which sprang up in the late “sixties” to provide a real alternative to the existing forms of cinema exhibition. Starting ten years ago, it first made use of the Imperial cinema, as it was then known, for late night shows that were successful enough for it to become a full-time operation two years later. The fleapit showing Audie Murphy Westerns to small, uninterested audiences had become a highly respected cinema.
From the very beginning to the present day, it has been the diversity of the Electric’s programming that separated it from other London cinemas. The policy, as Time Out has noticed, is “simply to put on anything that’s good of its kind”; to offer as wide a variety of films as possible, from all periods of movie history and all parts of the world. The sole criterion is that of merit. Though unaided by any grants from arts or public bodies, the Electric has consistently avoided the safe, commercial programming usual in other cinemas, and tried, wherever possible, to present films seldom, or in some cases never, seen in London outside of the odd showing at the NFT. In addition to these repertory showings, moreover, the Electric has also presented a number of premieres and rare revivals; included are “A Story of Sin”, “The Wanderer”, “THX 1138”, “F For Fake”, Vampyr”, “Viva La Muerte”, “Spite Marriage”, and many others. And there have been many seasons, built either around directors or actors, such as Hitchcock, Griffith, Vincente Minelli, Kurosawa, Buñuel, Bogart, Eastwood, Dietrich, and Dean, or around national cinemas (German, Japanese, etc.) or wider topics such as Expressionism, Fantasy, RKO Radio Pictures, and Censorship. And hopefully there is something for everyone.
As for the cinema itself, it is in fact the oldest custom-built cinema still in existence in London, probably in England and dates from 1910. The Electric Cinema is the original name, as can be seen from the marble mosaic in the foyer, and the building retains its original structure; it is now listed as an historic building by the Department of the Environment.
Ten years ago, the Imperial was one of the last great London fleapits. With the new name and new management, came a new look. Seats were replaced, central heating installed and other innovations made. Little by little over the decade further
improvements have been made. But now, in order to celebrate our tenth anniversary comfortably, we have completely reseated, recarpeted, installed a new screen and masking, and projection lighting, and generally tried to improve the facilities as much as possible without destroying the particular character of the lovely old building, without becoming as antiseptic and dull as most cinemas these days.
Finally we should like to thank all those who have helped and supported the Electric over the last decade, particularly all our customers, whom we hope enjoy themselves at the Electric as much as we do.