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.

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