As part of my list of “Essential” books on historic theaters and theatre preservation, I included “Odeon Cinemas” by Allen Eyles. Mr. Eyles has written volumes on all four of the major chains of British cinemas, something I wish someone would do for the major U.S. Chains: Loew’s, Fox, Paramount-Publix, Warner’s and RKO Theatres. As Mr. Eyles’ volumes are fairly authoritative, I thought it right to list them here:
1. Odeon Cinemas 1: Covers the founding of the Odeon chain to the death of Oscar Deutsch at the start of WWII
2. Odeon Cinemas 2: Covers Arthur Rank’s tenure as head of Odeon to the sale of the chain in 2002.
Both of these books are brilliant and well-documented, covering the change in styles through the decade and emphasizing what has kept the Odeon brand extant through today.
3. ABC Cinemas: the rarest of Eyles’ books covering the largest pre-war chain of cinemas in England.
4. Gaumont British: Gaumont was a mixture of theaters dating back to the music hall and modern theaters (for the 30’s) that had architectural elements bordering on sci-fi. A fascinating volume.
5. Granada Theatres: Granada’s theaters were the closest in appearance to American theaters of the 1920’s. But their flagship theatre at Tooting (today a bingo hall of all things) is indisputably a marvel of architecture in any country.