Thomas McGoran (TM-92-009)

‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ (T McGoran)

In 1992, former cinema projectionist Thomas McGoran read Annette Kuhn’s article about 1930s popular cinema in The Glaswegian, and wrote to her offering information (see link below). He was among the earliest Cinema Culture in 1930s Britain interviewees and one of the project’s seventeen Glasgow-based core informants. He was interviewed at his home on 30 November 1994 and 22 February 1995. One of nine children, Mr McGoran was born in Ayr in 1927 and the family moved to Glasgow in 1930. His father was a labourer, his mother a housewife. He left school at the age of fourteen, and his first job was as a spoolboy (rewinding films after they had been projected) and he later went on to work as a film projectionist. A gifted artist, his paintings have been exhibited in Glasgow and some of them can be viewed at the website. He donated his collection of 35mm film spool offcuts, along with digital versions of his paintings ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ and ‘Matinee Mayhem’. In June 1996, along with several other Glasgow interviewees, Mr McGoran visited CCINTB's exhibition at the Screen Conference at Strathclyde University, and in 2000, he took part in CCINTB's Tarzan questionnaire survey. He remains in contact with the project, and was interviewed again in 2020.

His wide-ranging first interview opens with his earliest memory of being in a cinema, fascinated by the projector beam; and includes a story about a private film show he put on at the age of eight or nine in the shared lavatory of his tenement building. In the course of the interview he mentions close to forty Glasgow cinemas, including particular favourites the Arcadia, where he worked; the Orient, venue of a memorable ninth birthday visit to see his favourite star, Deanna Durbin; and Green’s Playhouse with its various attractions. He goes into the details–duties, working conditions, routines, and vicissitudes–of his work as a projectionist, and compares his duties and the various technicalities with film projection today. He talks about collecting comics and film magazines as a teenager and swapping them with friends, about widescreen and 3D films, British versus American films, the dance halls of Glasgow, and charity Sunday film shows during the war. The interview closes with memories of the thrilling serials screened at children’s matinees, and of anticipating the denouements of the weekly cliffhangers: “Aww, it was marvellous days, marvellous. We didn’t have much but you got a good laugh!”

In his second interview, Mr McGoran talks about the short films and newsreels that featured in the normal/regular cinema programme, and guides the interviewer through the collection of spool offcuts that he subsequently donated to the project.

Documents, Memorabilia and Related Links
Glasgow home page
Scan of letter (TM-92-009PL01) | Transcript
Scan of letter (TM-92-009SL004) | Transcript
Scan of letter (TM-92-009PL002) | Transcript
Scan of letter (TM-92-009PW01) | Transcript
Scan of letter (TS-00-001GL001) | Transcript
Scan of essay (TM-92-009PW02) | Transcript
Scan of Tarzan questionnaire (TM-92-009TQ001)
Paintings ( website)
Arcadia Cinema, Glasgow (cinematreasures website)
Deanna Durbin singing 'Danny Boy', 1945 (YouTube)

Lecture and Publication relating to materials in Mr McGoran's memorabilia:
'Snow White in the 1930s', Raphael Samuel Memorial Lecture, Bishopsgate Institute, London, November 2007. Kuhn, A. (2010). 'Snow White in 1930s Britain', Journal of British Cinema and Television, 7(2).
Snow White in 1930s Britain