The rise and fall of Guyana’s cinemas – Godfrey Chin

The rise and fall of Guyana’s cinemas

By Godfrey Chin

Nostalgia 456

As a nostalgia buff languishing in reminisces of our wonderful yesteryears – before Independence – the current demise of our cinemas is a total shock and a tragic disappointment.  Most of us were ardent movie fans, and cinemas played a major role in our maturation then. One must only wonder whether the demise of cinemas in Guyana has in some way resulted in the decay today of the current moral fibre of the nation.

Before the advent of talking pictures 1927 (Jazz Singer) and the first Academy Awards 1929, British Guiana had a prestigious movie palace called the Gaiety, at Brickdam and Camp Street, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1926. By 1930 the London Cinema on Camp Street had installed sound, and another cinema was in place in New Amsterdam. The Metro on Middle Street changed its name to the Empire to accommodate the Metropole, which opened with The Merry Widow (Maurice Chevalier/Jeannette McDonald, 1934). Empire’s first movie was the Prisoner of Zenda with Ronald Coleman. I was born that year, but gleaned that ‘nylon’ subsequently from my fabulous pamphlet collection. If I had brought them up to the States when I ‘exiled,’ man, I could have retired rich.    [Read more]

— Post #1420

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  • Cyril Balkaran  On May 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Mr. Chin has lamented the fact that he missed being a millionaire if he had followed carefully the cinema business, but this Cinema Industry’s rise and fall had a lot to do with great cinema magnates as Robert Sookraj and family who dominated this cinema Industry single handedly. He created personal wealth by the ownership and conglomeration of those cinemas throughout Guyana. In Berbice, Essequibo and Georgetown every cinema belonged to the powerful business Tycoon. At one stage he partnered with the Teelucksinghs of Trinidad and when LFSB impounded hid Stretch Limousines, he fled to Trinidad. Here he attempted to monopolise but due to the unseen fear of Conglomeration, the Government of T&T was forced to rush through the parliament the Alien’s land holding act. This put a hold on Robert Sookraj who was not daunted. His pioneering spirit allowed him to open the first Drive in Cinema called the KAY DONNA drive in Cinema in Curepe Trinidad. This was along the lines of the Starlite Drive in at Better hope. Such was the power of another business tycoon and Cinema magnate of Guyana! Where is the entrepreneurship in any industry in Guyana today? Its only hald a century of migration and more migration! Think about our worthwile sons and daughters of Guyanese Ancestry! Have a great day!

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