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The President Cinema

postoer advertising the movie
Poster advertising The Outlaw

Leon's childhood was filled with creative endeavours. He delighted his friends by crafting model theatres from cardboard boxes and piecing together newspaper comic strips to mimic film reels.

His mother was critical of these creations and told him to stop wasting his time and to do something worthwhile. His father agreed.

He used to get so absorbed in watching one movie repeatedly in a cinema called the Capitol Cafe Bio that he'd forget to go home, and his parents would come to drag him out.

His mother treated him twice: once to see Danny Kaye on stage at His Majesty's Theatre in Johannesburg and again to see George Formby. His father took him to the synagogue and taught him how to pray.

These two were his favourite actors. He wrote letters to them and received a signed colour portrait of Danny Kaye, which he had framed and placed on his desk, where it remained throughout his school years.

A picture advertising The Outlaw, a Western film released in 1943 that features Jane Russell as one of its leading actresses, appeared on the glass door of the President cinema.

The one and sixpence change from the half crown his mother had given him to buy a notebook lay in the zipped pouch of his pants, where he kept valuable articles.

The advertisement showed a luscious girl in a tattered dress revealing naked, curvaceous white legs lying on a pile of straw.

That picture stopped him in his tracks. He was 14 years old, and the movie had an age restriction of 18.

Entering, he would miss the afternoon Biblical language instruction session or come late. His father warned him not to be absent; otherwise, this time, he'd carry out his threat to punish the boy severely.

His fingers nervously clutched the coins in his pocket, a physical manifestation of his inner turmoil. The fear of his father's castigation for abandoning the holy lesson and the guilt of wasting his mother's money weighed heavily on him.

He found himself at a crossroads, torn between the allure of the film and the consequences that awaited him. 'Was the cinematic experience worth the retribution?' he pondered. How would he explain the vanished change to his mother?

These questions echoed in his mind, carrying the weight of his conflicting cravings and fears.

Leon was experiencing a deep inner turmoil, a clash of passions and hopes. His mother and father clearly envisioned his future, but he saw a different path leading to the entertainment world.

"The boy was grappling with a deep inner conflict that consumed his thoughts and emotions, leaving him feeling lost and overwhelmed." He tried to reconcile his own wants and his parents' aspirations for him. This struggle was not just external but a part of his very being.

Despite their contradiction, he enjoyed both the tales of holy scriptures and the earthly scenes of human behaviour in movies.

This inner paradox confused him. Studying Scripture might resolve it. The numerous film productions on Biblical themes prove his thinking was correct.

The drawback to following this course was that the Bible is considered the word of God, thereby attributing holiness to it, a religious manifesto with a negative view of earthy scenes portrayed in movies. 

The only place to study this entertaining collection of stories is in an institution that combines the book with Religion.

Since then, he has felt guilty about watching displays of beautiful women in revealing bathing suits.

Leon made a significant decision to attend a seminary for Hebrew teachers. This choice was a delicate balance: it met his parents' insistence on practical studies while allowing him to delve into his passion for literature in Holy Writ.

Later in life, he gave up religion, realizing that one needn't perform cultic practices to acquire knowledge of Bible stories. 

Looking back, he has no regrets about not pursuing a career in the entertainment business. He finds contentment in his current life, enjoying movies and daydreaming about what could have been.

In his eyes, the moguls of the silver screen had deceived him. The poster had promised a provocative experience that the show failed to deliver. It was a deliberate ploy to lure in an audience. This betrayal, a seed planted in his youth, had grown into scepticism of the advertising industry.


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