Muswell Hill Odeon
Muswell Hill has had four cinemas; The Athenaeum, built as a dance hall on what is now the Sainsbury site; The Summerland at the bottom of Summerland Avenue, now a car park; the Ritz, built in 1936 opposite The Green Man, demolished and now offices and flats; and the Odeon, which opened four months before the Ritz. Only the last has survived.
To understand the importance of the Odeon to Muswell Hill we have to go back a number of years. The Athenaeum had been a dance hall and when it became a cinema it was always clear that we were sitting in a converted building with high ceilings and irrelevant decoration. The Summerland was like a theatre at the end of a seaside pier. The Ritz was purpose-built, but was of only minimal interest as a building, but the Odeon was the result of one man's passion for the Cinema. Oscar Deutsch was the centre of a hectic cinema building boom which began in the early nineteen thirties and stopped only with the opening of the Second World War.
Born in 1893 in Birmingham, his parents were Jewish immigrants from Central Europe and his father had been successful as a partner in a scrap metal firm. Oscar Deutsch started in the family firm but was soon attracted to the cinema, so in 1920 he went into partnership with Michael Balcon and Victor Saville to form Victory Motion Pictures Ltd. The other two later created Marlborouh Fihns and became film makers, while Deutsch was more attracted to film distribution. He bought his first cinema at the age of twenty-five and soon bought a number of other small cinemas in side streets. He then decided to become a national distributor and commissioned a number of Midlands architects to build cinemas for him in a variety of styles between 1930 and 1834.