Lights, camera, drizzle…or maybe not!

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Stu Comer boarded a bus with a difference and enjoyed his film trivia packed trip…

Earlier this month I turned up at Cornerhouse for the Hollywood of the North coach tour expecting another wet and windy day in Manchester. However it was such a nice day we could have had an open top bus tour. But who in their right mind would have chanced that! After collecting my ticket from Box Office I headed round the corner to be greeted by the bus plus a long line of people waiting to get on. C P Lee, our guide for the trip, was handing out programmes. I didn’t expect it to be this busy.

As the coach weaved its way through the streets of Manchester, Salford, Rusholme and Hulme, C.P. Lee kept everyone’s spirits up with his easy-to-listen-to voice and wealth of Manchester knowledge. Throughout the tour he really captivated us with lots of tit-bits about Manchester past and present, teasing us with several stories some of which he promised to expand upon on a subsequent excursion. I knew historically Manchester was used by many local film makers, but didn’t realise that so many modern American movies were filmed here. For example, C P noted that the streets of the Northern Quarter are often used to replicate the streets of New York as a cheap and viable alternative to the real thing.

The coach took a brief respite in Rusholme outside the building where the Mancunian Film Company was based. C.P. entertained us with a few stories and impersonations of Frank Randall – the company’s biggest star before we set off again to drive past a few locations in Hulme and then back to Cornerhouse for a showing of George Formby’s Boots! Boots! There were a few reasons why this film was chosen to accompany our trip, namely the 50th anniversary of George Formby’s death, the fact it was the Mancunian Film Company’s first film, and it also contained the first screen appearance of the late Betty Driver.

The film itself is based in a hotel with Formby playing the protagonist – John Willie, the hotel’s boot cleaner. To be honest I wasn’t a mssaive fan of the film but it was definately worth a watch if only for Betty Driver’s brief cameo, yodelling nonetheless. The film also did have a few laugh-out-loud moments. By far my favourite bit, and the part that received the biggest laugh from the audience, was when the hotel’s chef threatened to cut George Formby’s face off!

I enjoyed the Hollywood of the North Coach Trip; I’ll resist saying “it’s turned out nice again!”, although I’ve said it now! If you ever get a chance to go on one of C P Lee’s little excursions – take it, it might turn out nice again for you too!