I have posted the same article (Malay Version) in My Pasir Mas but for the benefit of those who don't understand Malay, here is the same post with some pictures.
The first cinema was located at Pengkalan Pasir about 2 kilometers from the Pasir Mas town centre. The cinema was known by the locals as Panggung Buruk (Old Theatre). The name was appropriate as it was really a wooden hall with wooden cinema seats laid on the earthen floor. They were proper chairs not the plank kind often used for wayang kulit shows.
It was at this Panggung Buruk that I saw my first movie in the cinemas of Pasir Mas. My half brother took me there on his bicycle with me sitting on the round top bar of the frame all the way from Kampung Kangkung about 6 miles away. The pain from sitting on the small bar was overshadowed by the exuberance of seeing a movie in town.
The movie was the classic 'Semerah Padi' with the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee and Saadiah playing the leading roles. The show was an afternoon show and I distinctly remember coming out from the theatre at the end of the show not being able to immediately adjust to the bright light outside. The pupils of my eyes were still dilated.
I didn't have the chance to see a second movie at Panggung Buruk as a new and better Panggung Rex was later built right smack in town and Panggung Buruk ceased to function though the builing was still there. On this site now stands a furniture shop owned by my classmate by the name of Lee Kew Pee.
I can't really remember how old I was they came to the school in Kampung Kangkung selling special tickets for school children to see a movie at the Rex Cinema at 20 sen a head. The movie they were showing then was another P Ramlee classic called Pendekar Bujang Lapok. It was free seating and I chose to sit near to the big screen. Later after suffering from a slight neckache I sauntered to the back of the cinema to experience a first class seat. They have the reserve class upstairs above the first calss but the entrance was from the stairs outside near the ticket booth.
The Rex Cinema flourished by showing films produced or distributed by Shaw Brothers. Malay films were made at Jalan Ampas Studio in Singapore. We get to know about the actors and actresses from Jalan Ampas Studio via their monthly magazine Majalah Filem produced in glorious colours even though the films were in black and white. Can you recall the names of directors like L Krishnan and B.N. Rao? Ofcourse you will remember Jamil Sulong and Omar Rojik. The make up artist then was A. V. Bapat. I think he was the only make up artist at the studio then.
Great films that have been screened here were West Side Story starring Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn,George Chakiris and Natalie Wood. Such names may not ring any bells to those of the present generation.
We will always remember Ibu Mertuaku with the late P Ramlee doing almost single handedly by being the director, lead actor, composer, singer but defintely he can't claim to be the cameraman. Anyway Ibu Mertuaku with supporting actors and actresses such as Sarimah, Zaiton, Ahmad Mahmud and Mak Dara certainly made the people came out from Rex Cinema red eyes after wiping all the tears shed.
It was at this cinema that I had many dates with my other half. A few days back my other half had a good laugh when we passed by the place and I told her of our dates at the cinema that was on that site.There is another cinema in town by the name of Panggung Geroda. It was along the same road almost opposite to the railway station. This theatre screened films made and distributed by Cathay Keris Film Productions. Panggung Geroda was owned by prominent business people from Pasir Mas comprising of brothers Wan Yaakob, Wan Ishak and Wan Ibrahim. Ultimately the property was inherited by Wan Ishak who passed it on to his son the late Wan Hamat. Upon his demise the property was inherited by his wife Nik Nadiah. Her son owns the Lamborghini that I featured in Look What I Saw In Pasir Mas.
Unlike Panggung Rex which was demolished, Panggung Geroda still stands with a furniture shop fronting it. The theatre itself was once used as a batik making factory after its closure. Currently the furniture shop is using it as part of its showroom. I managed to view the theater from inside but the furniture shop owner was reluctant to let me take photographs of its inside so you have to make do with views from outside. The main building is still intact and the cubicles where the tickets were sold is still discernible.
Perniagaan Sin Kian Huat is now in front of the theater.
My first experience at this cinema was watching The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as the main actor. It was such a long story that they had to provide and intermission midway. That was when I had my first taste of Coca Cola after seeing it being drunk by some people at the coffee shops in town.
The original coca cola shape.
Later classics such as Ben Hur and the Guns of Navaron were also screened.
If I can remember right the Elvis Pressley’s films came via here too. Remember Blue Hawaii?
The Malay films produced by Cathay Keris featured actors such as the late Nordin Ahmad and Abdullah Chik while the prominent actresses were Roseyatimah and Latfah Omar. Lanchang Kuning was one of the better known titles.
The still standing Panggung Geroda as seen from the back.
This cinema had been the place where the magician John Calvert did a show sponsored by one cigarette brand called Matterhorn. Before the show John Calvert showed hi prowess by driving around the small town with his eyes taped with a thick wad of white material covering it. He drove around by following a police Land Rover weaving flawlessly through every corners of the town. It was a spectacular feat. Later during the show, he mesmerised the audience with his magic shows. Yours truly couldn't afford the entry fee and had to content himself with hearing the loud gasps of the awed crowd and later asked friends who went inside on what transpired. His main feat was sawing a lady in half and finally reuniting the two halves back to her former whole. The climax of the show was when John Calvert threw packets of cigarettes into the audience who were ecstatic to be lucky enough to get one without breaking a limb though they had to jump over seats to get the ciggarettes thrown to them.
When Hindustani films the likes of Sangam and Bobby was played there, it was full house all the way for the number of days they were screened. Such blockbusters will be reserved for special occassions like Hari Raya when all the village folks will converge to town to celebrate. Getting a ticket for a show was a no mean feat. It took brave strong men to push his arm through a small hole to buy the tickets. The ladies will ask the macho males to help buy the tickets for them and a thank you from the ladies was reward enough for these men. Ticket touts will take advantage of the situation by buying them in big numbers and later resold them at an inflated price making a tidy profit for themselves. The ticket seller were in cohoot with them as it made his work easier by selling them in bulk. After the show there will always be a small tip for him. Such tips may help him to offset any mistakes made while giving changes to the customers. I learnt all of this from a former worker of the Geroda Cinema who was also an artist of Panggung Geroda before its closure in 1978 (As told by the artist) ten years after my leaving Pasir Mas to attend college in Serdang. The person I am talking about is no less than Abang Li as he is now popularly known or Ramli Idris as he is named. Tuan Haji Azmy who lives all his life and is still living begs to differ as he said when he got married in 1978 Panggung Geroda was still operating. Perhaps it did close down only a few years later in 1980 or thereabout.
Abang Li make banners and sell his paintings for a living.
The story of Abang Li will be in my future blog. Abang Li or Ramli Idris was the artist at Panggung Geroda. He now paint banners and sceneries for sale at the Mara Arcade in town.
The coming of television brought the death knell to Panggung Geroda. The cinema closed down in after screening the block buster 'Hapuskanlah Air Mata' (wipe away your tears) with the famous late singer Broery Marantika and songstress Sharifah Aini in the lead roles. It was an apt last film to be screened as the cinema had been operating at a loss all the while. After Panggung Geroda closes down Abang Li seeked emplyment at Rex Cinmea which closed down soon after due to the mushrooming of VHS video outlet. People prefer to watch videos in the comfort of their homes than to go to the cinemas.
Both cinemas used to run advertisements in the form of slideshows of their shops. Better establishments like Rado uses short film clips in glorious colors. The sctrachproof Rado Diastar watches has been around since then. Nowadays most fishmongers in Kelantan towsn wear the gold plated Rado Diastar as a symbol of success. I sold my Diastar to prevent my friends from chiding me as being in the fishing industry.
The closure of Rex Theatre happened after 1980 but I can't get any information on the last film screened there. I may get some information after I meet Ah Ho (or Pak Chu as he is affectionately known) the ticket seller who is a very well known figure as he walks around barefooted even to this day.