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RITZY, Brixton
Brixton Oval, London SW9

This is my favourite picture-house of all, for it was here as a teenager in the 1950s that I completed my cinematic education. Up until then the only foreign movies I had seen were 16mm film society presentations in dreary provincial halls and public libraries. At this cinema I saw for the first time classics like Citizen Kane, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday and Battleship Potemkin; a whole series of Italian neo-realist films including Bicycle Thieves, Rome Open City and La Strada; French films of the Thirties, including the complete Marcel Pagnol trilogy and a seemingly endless series of frothy Italian comedies with titles like Bread, Love and Dreams.

The cinema was built as the 750-seat Electric Pavilion, designed by E.C. Homer and Lucas for Israel Davis, owner of a large chain of London cinemas. It opened on 11th March 1911, making it contemporary with the Electric, Portobello Road, and carried on for 65 years, changing its name after refurbishment in 1954 to the Pullman and later to the Classic. In 1976 it closed down and was threatened with demolition but reopened in 1978 as "Little Bit Ritzy", now simplified to "Ritzy". In 1994 the Ritzy was bought by Oasis Cinemas, who added four screens, a bar and a cafe. It is claimed to be the largest independent specialist cinema in the country. Long may it continue to thrive.

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