A look at the John Schlesinger film set in Richard Gere’s favourite town
Before we begin…
Shortly after Richard Gere’s interview was shown on BBC One’s Breakfast programme, the Stalybridge Town Cinema will be showing his 1979 film, Yanks this Tuesday [22 March]. The film, directed by John Schlesinger, is set in Stalybridge, the Saddleworth villages, Stockport and Hyde.
Starring Vanessa Redgrave and Lisa Eichhorn (as well as our Richard), the film sees American GIs setting up a temporary base in Millbrook. The film begins in 1942, when over a million GIs set up camp in Great Britain. Soon, we find that our corner of North East Cheshire has an encampment. Their stint is during the build-up of Operation Overlord.
Throughout Yanks, we see three romances. Matt Dyson (Richard Gere) falls for Jean Moreton (Lisa Eichhorn) while out to the cinema. Matt is accepted by Jean’s relatives and get engaged. Helen (played by Vanessa Redgrave) falls for Captain John (William Devane) with the captain a regular visitor to her home.
Ultimately, we see how the small town gets along with the troops, widely deemed as “overpaid and over there”. We also see how ordering 36 lots of chips – in wartime Britain – could make you the most unpopular man in the chippy queue.
Yanks was filmed in and around Stalybridge during the summer of 1978. In the film we see the GIs leave via Dobcross and Uppermill prior to meeting the train at Keighley station. This is the linchpin of Saddleworth’s annual Yanks weekend with the motorcade reenacted on Sunday afternoons. Other locations include Stockport Parish Church, Hyde Town Hall, and Happy Valley Road in Llandudno. The cinema scenes were shot at the Rainbow Theatre, in that part of eastern Cheshire known as London.
So far, ticket sales for Tuesday’s presentation have been buoyant, with more cinemagoers choosing to book earlier than normal. The timing of BBC’s interview – and the Stalybridge question asked by Louise Minchin couldn’t have come at a better time.
Next month at the Stalybridge Town Cinema
The American theme continues, this time with 1980’s classic film The Blues Brothers. Jake (John Belushi) is seen leaving prison after service a three-year sentence for armed robbery. He is picked up by brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in a battered ex-police car. On “a mission from God”, they find out through Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman), that their orphanage is threatened with closure. They are in debt to the tune of $5,000 in property taxes.
On visiting a nearby Baptist Church, Jake and Elwood hit upon a brainwave. They decide to re-form their Rhythm and Blues band. Known as The Blues Brothers Band, they track down members of the group, and raise more than enough money to pay off the tax bill. Just as things were looking up for the group, comes another twist.
The Chicago-set film is a cult classic that spun off from a musical sketch on Saturday Night Live. It is noted for its soundtrack as well as comedy value. Besides its best known tune (Everybody Needs Somebody to Love), other gems include the Peter Gunn Theme (popularised by Duane Eddy) and the theme from Rawhide.
Next month’s presentation will take place at the usual time on the 19 April. This, alas, clashes with Stalybridge Celtic’s rearranged home match against Alfreton Town.
Tickets are priced at £5.00 for all classes. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
Stalybridge Town Cinema:
8 Corporation Street, Stalybridge, Cheshire, SK15 2BN.
- Buses: most services stop at Armentieres Square nearby. 408 service (peak hours, all day Sundays and Bank Holidays and evenings only) terminates at bus station (5 – 7 minutes walk along Market Street, Melbourne Street and Corporation Street). No journeys on the 236, 387, 353 and 354 services after 1900 hours;
- Trains: Stalybridge railway station is 10 – 12 minutes walk (Market Street, Melbourne Street and Corporation Street);
- Taxis: Swift Radio Cars is the nearest taxi office to Judge’s Bar.
The Stalybridge Town Cinema have revamped their website. On a subdomain of the Stalybridge Town website, it is slicker and more accessible than the previous version. The web address is stalybridgetown.wix.com/cinema-project.
For subsequent screenings, Stalybridge Town Cinema is open to suggestions for future films. Feel free to give Chris Caton-Greasley a shout at Judge’s Bar on Tuesday, or call in to The Music Corner on Melbourne Street. So long as the film is available for public exhibition in the UK, any suitable ideas will be considered.
S.V., 18 March 2016.