"before they went to the Rhodopis, the great cinema in Westminster"
The Dalston Rio, Hackney
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Dalston Rio, Hackney - Credit: Fin Fahey, Wikimedia Commons

Cold Comfort Farm includes many references to the cinema. For example, Seth Starkadder is addicted to ‘the talkies’, the colloquial term for sound cinema, which had only replaced silent films a few years before the publication of Cold Comfort Farm.

These references reflect the increasing importance during the 1930s of the cinema as a leisure activity where the masses could indulge their passion for adventure and romantic fantasies in surroundings that were opulent and luxurious (often in Art Deco style). This opulence was reflected in the type of names chosen for cinemas. Three examples in Cold Comfort Farm are Rhodopis, Majestic and Orpheum.

Rhodopis is the name of a 6th-century Greek hetaera (courtesan or prostitute), as well as an ancient version of the Cinderella story.  As far as we know, there has never actually been a Rhodopis cinema! 

Another feature of Cold Comfort Farm is the contrasting of commercially-driven Hollywood cinema, represented by the film director Earl P. Neck, with 'alternative' avant-garde cinema, represented by the 'broad-minded' intellectual Mr. Mybug. Whilst both types of cinema are lampooned by Stella Gibbons, it is perhaps the second that is most mercilessly satirised.


Carlton Cinema, Islington (now a Bingo Hall)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCarlton Cinema, Islington (now a Bingo Hall) - Credit: Fin Fahey, Wikimedia Commons