The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History

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Updated:  26 February 2013 

The Odeon group had apparently purchased some land in Union Street ready for a new cinema.  The outbreak of the Second World War put a stop to this plan but evidently not to Oscar Deutsch's intentions.

The story goes that Mr Deutsch invited Mr Prance of the Regent Cinema to lunch with him at Exeter and announced his plans for a new major cinema that would put the Regent out of business.  Unless, that is, the owners sold it to him.  This they subsequently did and thus it was that on Monday June 17th 1940 the old Regent Cinema reopened as the Odeon Cinema.

Mr Deutsch himself was at the opening when the film "Contraband" was shown.

The Odeon was forced to close during the height of the Blitz but reopened on Monday May 5th 1941 when "Men Against the Sky" was shown from Midday until 8pm only.

The Odeon Cinema, Plymouth, formerly the Regent Cinema
The Odeon Cinema, Plymouth.
  Western Morning News Company Ltd.
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During the Second World War the Cinema was used by Field-Marshall Montgomery for a briefing session with his officers prior to the D-Day landings.

Major Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF) performed a concert at the Odeon Cinema, Plymouth, on Monday August 28th 1944.  Queues started forming at just after 9pm for the concert at 10.15pm and the police and military police formed cordons to control the crowd.  This was largely because it was announced that Bing Crosby hoped to appear on stage but he was detained elsewhere making recordings.  Only military and naval personnel were admitted to the concert, anyway, and admirals and ratings, generals and privates, sat together to listen to the 52-piece orchestra.  The vocalist was Sergeant Johnny Desmond and the Crew Chiefs were also on stage.  For two of the numbers the drummer, Sergeant Ray McKinley, took over the baton.  Earlier in the day Major Miller was given a hurried tour of the places of interest in the City and was entertained aboard a |British naval vessel prior to the concert.

Being a relatively new building the Odeon survived the Second World War but as the new city centre developed became something of a sore thumb, lying at an angle in what used to be Frankfort Street but was now New George Street.  It not only looked out of place but was unviable given that the Drake was also under Odeon control.

Boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 were to be admitted to special cinema shows on Saturday mornings for a maximum admission price of 6d.  This proposal was adopted by the Plymouth City Council on Monday June 3rd 1946.  Only the Gaumont Palace, Odeon Cinema and Royal Cinema were involved.

The Odeon Cinema closed on September 8th 1962 it closed to be replaced with the New Odeon Cinema in the former Gaumont Palace building in Union Street.

During June and July 1963 the Odeon was demolished and a Littlewood's department store was built on the site.


  Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK

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