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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Actor John Hurt joins Keswick cinema centenary celebrations

Keswick’s Alhambra Cinema received birthday wishes on Wednesday from leading actor John Hurt.

Mr Hurt, who turned 74 on the same day, spoke by phone to a packed audience at the St John’s Street venue.

The Keswick Film Festival regular said: “Happy birthday Alhambra. It’s nice to know that somebody’s got a birthday the same day as me and they’re much older.”

More than 200 people gathered at a free event to celebrate the centenary of the Alhambra’s first screening.

Messages of support were also sent by film director Ken Loach, who has also attended the film festival, and Rod Evans, ex-film festival chairman.

The cinema screened its first film on January 22, 1914, although that showing was abandoned because of technical problems.

As it celebrated its centenary, technical difficulties also cut short Mr Hurt’s phone call but that did nothing to lessen the spirit of the occasion.

The celebration included the screening of a film interview with Nick Simpson, son of Jack Simpson who owned the cinema during the 1940s and 1950s.

Mr Simpson recalled: “It really took over our life. My father saw it as a job but one that he got satisfaction from.

“He was always there in the foyer when people came out at the end. Nothing pleased him more than someone coming out and saying ‘I loved that’.”

He said his father would have been staggered by the centenary celebrations.

Mr Simpson’s interview included recollections of a production of The Clouded Yellow, which was shot in Lakeland in the 1950s with a cast that included famous actress Jean Simmons, and whose crew used the Alhambra to view the rushes. The event ended with a showing of that film.

The anniversary will be celebrated further during the Keswick Film Festival next month.

Films from each of the cinema’s 10 decades will be shown, along with current owner Tom Rennie’s own choice of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Have your say

Happy Birthday and congratulations. Did the Queen send a card? The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a great choice Tom. Send my regards to Nic Simpson and give him my email address. My brother David would like to contact Nic.

Good luck in 2114.

Posted by Peter Wharton on 25 January 2014 at 15:06

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