Kuching. Purely upon the basis of my exemplary war service with the fabled Laundry and Bath Unit, I was singled out for advanced training as a cinema projectionist with the AKC, which I think means the Army Kinema Corporation (and confirms their spelling is as bad as mine.) The course involved two weeks at an AKC cinema in Singapore sited over a three lane bowling alley. We were billeted at a Royal Signals depot close by and it was bliss to be out of the Kuching swamps.
After the course we returned to the jungle as skilled projectionists who could splice a film in seconds and troubleshoot their way through any possible problem with the army’s state of the art 16mm film projectors.
So it was that I became responsible for the weekly cinema shows for the Kuching troops. Hundreds of films I must have shown, in an open air “cinema” that seated about six hundred men wearing little else but shorts and swigging on cans of tiger beer.
I recall of particular note a film called, I think, the Collector, or maybe the Butterfly Collector. It’s plot involved some nutter kidnapping a beautiful eighteen year old girl and holding her in his country cottage – her hands bound with rope – wherein he planned to have his evil way with her.
The particular scene, still fresh in my mind after all these years, involved the young succulent prisoner, her hand bound together and dressed in a very flimsy see-through negligee, in front of a roaring log fire. She decides to escape by seducing her captor – she wraps her bound arms lovingly around his neck, and slips onto his knee, the negligee gently pulling off her wonderful firm body, he responding, his hand moving expectantly to her thighs. At this point the film snagged in the projector and all sound and picture was lost.
Instant collapse of 600 hard on’s. The jungle night erupted with the primeval frustration of angry wounded soldiers and the wooden screen was hit with the squelching crack of half empty tiger beer cans. Quick as a flash my advanced AKC projectionist training kicked in and I had the film out and spliced in seconds: seconds I say. But it was no use, the critical scene had been burned out and the spliced repair began the film again after whatever happened had already happened, in fact they were probably having a cigarette by the time the film started flickering back into life.. I never did get to find out what happened and even today I keep an eye on the TV film schedules to see if the film is ever shown on the box.
That night the jungle reverberated to the sound of frustrated soldiers……
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