The Whitley Bay Film Festival – seaside cinema

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Seaside screening

The Whitley Bay Film Festival is here again! In a town without a cinema, a plucky band of film lovers set up the festival in 2010, with a mission to stage something extraordinary in this North East seaside destination. 
From the humble origins of organising a screening of Jaws on the local beach, the Festival has gone from strength-to-strength and now delivers an annual programme of seminal films in unique settings with a imaginative twist.

A first bite for the festival

The Patron of the festival is super successful film and screen writer Ian La Frenais, a local lad, most famous for penning The Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Weidersehen Pet. The festival team have shown The Fog in St Mary’s Lighthouse, The Dawn of the Dead at the shopping centre, used the Spanish City Dome as a pop up cinema and even welcomed Roger Daltry to the town for a special 40th anniversary screening of Tommy.

The Rendez vous cafe

This year we went  along to the iconic Whitley Bay Rendezvous cafe on the edge of the sea, which retains its 1930’s decor and has been in the same family for six decades. The screening that night was the 1957 film noir movie ‘The Sweet Smell of Success’ starring Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster. Apparently the film was hated by the critics at the time is was first shown, as it showed these two movie heartthrobs playing dark and unpleasant characters, very different from their usual heroic roles. It also spelled the end of the career of its director Alexander Macendrick, but it was undoubtedly ahead of its time and has a sharp and witty script with enough one liners to fill an exercise book.

You may like – ‘It’s a dirty job, but I pay clean money for it’ or perhaps ‘You’re like a cookie full of arsenic.’ The amusing insults come thick and fast from our protagonists, language is used as a weapon in a way which is long forgotten in any Hollywood film I’ve seen recently. It has a very cool soundtrack featuring a great orchestral jazz score by Elmer Bernstein and the music of Chico Hamilton. New York in black and white looks dirty, busy and exciting as newspaper man JJ Hunsecker recruits sleazy press agent Sidney Falco in this swipe at the underbelly of late 50s journalism. Fake news is nothing new, that’s for sure.

Movie monsters Tony and Burt

J.J. Hunsecker, a powerful New York newspaper columnist, is dead set against his sister’s marrying a jazz musician and recruits the oleaginous Sidney Falco to try and smear the young man and break up the relationship. Sidney is a totally amoral character who will do anything to get publicity for his clients and progress his own career and he proceeds to do his Machiavellian worst. Then it all starts to go horribly wrong…

It was described by one writer as one of the most lacerating and vicious visions of the predatory urban world in the American cinema. It also gets 98% on Rotten Tomatoes!
There’s still lots more to come at the festival check out the rest of the programme here – Whitley Bay Film Festival