Everyman memories, posted by Julia Holland, September 2021
Growing up in Belsize Park and Highgate in the late 60’s and 70’s the Everyman
was a part of our life. My parents were divorced and the Everyman was where I
went with my Dad. I have the dubious distinction to have seen every Orson Welles
film – his particular interest. I think there must have been an Orson Welles season
because we saw many of the films twice.
The Everyman was different from other cinema going because you talked and
argued about the films they showed, usually in the pub afterwards. I remember the
last time I went to Everyman with Dad we saw F for Fake and had a blazing row.
He hated it and I was being a contrary-wise teenager. It generated that kind of
atmosphere – you had to think and respond with the films.
It was a scruffy, slightly seedy place which maybe because it felt above mundane
considerations of cleaning and comfort made you feel that you ought to have an
opinion. A bit like the way a second hand bookshop makes you search out
interesting, different tittles while ignoring the chaos of shelving and dust. You don’t
buy latest best sellers in a second hand bookshop and you didn’t go to Everyman
for latest American releases.
All in black it felt very different and grown up. Very much part of the intellectual,
artistic Hampstead as opposed to the increasingly shopping, frivolous Hampstead.
Situated on its corner it felt quite apart from Heath Street and the clothes shops,
much closer physically and intellectually to some of the remaining scruffy pubs,
bookshops, watchmaker and European tea shops. A Hampstead that was
disappearing fast. The outside of the cinema was dominated by film posters.
Perhaps because it was right on the street or in contrast with the black walls, the
posters seemed to be dominate . I always read and looked at them. In other
cinemas they fade against the walls.
I always went with my Dad or a like minded friend. Charlotte and I were blown
away by the Russian and European films and the Everyman was the local place to
see them. It was not the place you went to with a group of friends or for a date. I’m
not sure why because we would have all enjoyed the films, it was just too cool, too
serious, I’m not sure. As a child it was always Swiss Cottage with its enormous
screen that was chosen for children’s parties and outings. Films like Mary
Poppins, Half a Sixpence etc. Later with friends or for dates we went to the Odeon
South End Green. South End Green really catered for teenagers with ‘All night Dr
Phibes” sessions which included breakfast for the hardy ones who had made it to
the end or were just waking up.
I went back to the Everyman last time I was in London. The outside seemed the
same but inside it was a different place with food, drink and comfortable seats. All
changes that I think are great. The most intriguing change I noticed was a
screening for Mothers with babies one morning a week.. What a brilliant idea.