The influence of cinema on Jamaican music.
I n the present age of cheap TV and a plentiful supply of films on video and DVD, it’s not always easy to recall the importance of the cinema in the far off days of the 1960s, especially in poorer countries such as Jamaica where televisions were often an unaffordable luxury for the average household and youngsters would walk miles to watch Bonanza through a more affluent neighbour’s window.
The local picture houses offered cheap entertainment and a means of escape from the harsh realities of life, if only for a few hours. The thriving and competitive circuit ensured that all the latest films were shown, often alongside films that were still doing the rounds years (if not decades) after their original release. It wasn’t unusual for films to be shown for only one or two days, thus ensuring an even faster turnaround of programmes for the action-hungry movie fans.
Newspapers from the 1950s and 60s testify to the popularity of the cinema in Jamaica, with films both old and new covering almost every imaginable genre being advertised by the leading picture-houses. A 1959 edition of The Star shows ads from Kingston’s Palace, Carib, Odeon (Half Way Tree) and Globe cinemas, as well as the Tropical, Majestic, State and Queens. At least 15 different …
by Chris Lane
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