It’s a rare day that I have a chance for cross-promotion, but today is such a day. My other blog is called Movies in Other Movies, and each post is about a scene in a movie or TV show in which the characters are watching a movie or TV show. There are a surprisingly high number of such scenes; I’ve been doing the blog for two and half years and new examples keep coming up.

The latest post is about Charlie Chaplin’s 1957 film A King in New York. Here are two notable facts about the movie:

  • It’s set in New York (as the title suggests) and much of it is a satire on current American culture.
  • Chaplin had been out of the United States in a semi-voluntary exile since 1952, and shot the film in his native England.

At one point, Chaplin’s character — a king who has been kicked out of his country by a revolution — goes to see a movie, and before we see him watching three coming attractions (the subject of my blog post), he witnesses the tail-end of a rock and roll show.

Screen Shot 2020-08-12 at 3.55.10 PM

Behind him, on the theater doors, you can clearly see the work “STALLS.” Now, “Stalls” is the British term for what Americans would call the Orchestra. (I have never encountered “Stalls” here.) The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) offers conflicting information on where this scene was shot, either the Odeon Cinema or the Warner Theatre, both on Leicester Square in London. But whichever it was, Chaplin and his crew neglected to erase a telltale word.


19 thoughts on ““Stalls”

  1. Interestingly the seats in the body of the Royal Opera House are called the “Orchestra Stalls”, and I suspect that this was the original name for this part of the theatre (cf Greek amphitheatres) – and was subsequently abbreviated to “stalls” in the UK and to “orchestra” in the US.

  2. That may be Australian Rhyming Slang, Peter, but in the UK the traditional rhyming slang for testicles is ‘cobbler’s awls’ – balls.
    ‘Cobbler’ is serendipitously similar to ‘clobber’ which Ben dealt with a couple of posts ago. They’re ‘better than anagrams’ – is there a word, I wonder, for ‘better than anagrams but unrelated’?

    1. Hence calling something ‘a loads of cobblers’, or, as in a previous recent post here, a load of bollocks.

      I have a theory that every single word or phrase in the English language can be used to mean either drunk, a load of rubbish, fighting or having sex.

    2. “in the UK the traditional rhyming slang for testicles is ‘cobbler’s awls’ – while “cobblers” is certainly the more common rhyming slang term for tecticles, there are plenty of examples of the use of “orchestras” in British English, and Julian Franklyn in his Dictionary of Rhyming Slang (1961) gives no indication that “orchestras” is solely Australian.

    1. … well the Warner was in Leicester Sq – only its facade remains, the body of the cinema was gutted a few years ago, and it is now a Vue multiplex. And if I was going to be really picky, it was never “in” Leicester Sq, it was in Cranbourn St, close to Leicester Sq.

      The Odeon is the last surviving 1930s art deco cinema in the area.

      1. Drifting OT, but did anyone see the recent episode of QI where they mentioned the hidden gem of architecture just off Leicester Sq. ?


        It’s a MASSIVE circular building originally intended to display panoramas. Now a church, so not open to the public.

        look it up on Google Earth. It will astound you that it’s hidden.

  3. “But whichever it was, Chaplin and his crew neglected to erase a telltale word.”

    It’s interesting to speculate that had he known Chaplin would have been furious. Even at 100 years plus, his perfectionist nature is legendary.

  4. I’m reminded that as a number of US TV shows are filmed in Canada, you sometimes see Canadian spellings on buildings. I remember an episode of Supergirl where an amusement arcade had a sign outside saying “Fun Centre”.

      1. OK not noticed that, but I’m in the UK and only really familiar with our road signs (and a non-driver to boot).

  5. Doesn’t “orchestra” get confused with “orchestra pit”?

    I didn’t know about your Movies Within Movies blog, so I will go and look at it. But while I am here, I will mention that at least twice I have been in cinemas (to reference the previous post) in London (to reference this one) watching films in which the cinema I am actually in makes an appearance. I can’t remember if we saw any movie within the movie, but I was in The Screen On The Green (Islington) watching the Tall Guy in which there is a scene with Jeff Goldblum waiting outside for Emma Thomson to come out of The Screen On the Green. And at the end of David Mamet’s Spartan Val Kilmer is mooching about disconsolately, as I remember, outside the Trocadero at Piccadilly, and I was watching the film inside the UGC Trocadero (I told the guy sitting next to me that they shot a different ending for every cinema the film is in – it’s a paranoid conspiracy thriller, so that observation fitted the story… we know where you are!).

  6. Of course “movies” in the UK were always “films” although Isuspect movies has gained in poularity here now

  7. The stalls in a cinema was the seating area on the same level as the ticket office. As opposed to the circle – an upper floor of seats that started above the back row of the stalls and extended back to the outer building wall, usually the circle just covered the entry foyer. At least in London when I was growing up in 1960s-70s.

    1. Sorry Laura to disagree. And I have two disagreements. First theatres don’t have a ticket office. They have a box office (and there is an interesting history behind that term – but not for here). Secondly, the stalls aren’t necessarily at the same level as the box office. Many West End theatres are either on steeply sloping sites (such as the Savoy) or constructed underground (such as the Criterion), and you go down many flights of stairs to reach the stalls. The stalls are the lowest level of seating.

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