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Oscar Deutsch

Oscar Deutsch

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Oscar Deutsch was the founder of the Odeon Cinemas
Odeon Cinemas
Odeon Cinemas is a British chain of cinemas, one of the largest in Europe. It is owned by Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group whose ultimate parent is Terra Firma Capital Partners.-History:Odeon Cinemas was created in 1928 by Oscar Deutsch...

 chain in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


Life and career

Deutsch was born in Balsall Heath
Balsall Heath
Balsall Heath is a working class, inner-city area of Birmingham, England. It is home to a diverse cultural mix of people and the location of the Balti Triangle.-History:...

, Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, the son of Leopold Deutsch, a successful Hungarian
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 Jewish scrap metal merchant. After attending King Edward VI Five Ways
King Edward VI Five Ways
King Edward VI Five Ways is a selective, humanities specialist grammar school located in the Bartley Green area of south Birmingham, England. As of April 2008, the school has a second specialism, a specialist Science College.-Background:...

, he opened his first cinema
Movie theater
A movie theater, cinema, movie house, picture theater, film theater is a venue, usually a building, for viewing motion pictures ....

 in nearby Brierley Hill
Brierley Hill
Brierley Hill is a town and electoral ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, West Midlands, England. It is one of the larger Black Country towns with a population of 9,631 and is heavily industrialised, best known for glass and steel manufacturing, although the industry has declined...

, Dudley
Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands county of England. At the 2001 census , the Dudley Urban Sub Area had a population of 194,919, making it the 26th largest settlement in England, the second largest town in the United Kingdom behind Reading, and the largest settlement in the UK without...

 in 1928. By 1933 he had 26 Odeons and "Odeon" had started to become a household word, used interchangeably with "cinema" in some parts of the UK until after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


By 1937 there were 250 Odeons, including the flagship cinema in Leicester Square
Leicester Square
Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England. The Square lies within an area bound by Lisle Street, to the north; Charing Cross Road, to the east; Orange Street, to the south; and Whitcomb Street, to the west...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, making Odeon one of the three major circuits in the UK. Odeon cinemas were considered more comfortable and respectable for middle-class filmgoers than those of the two other circuits, Associated British Cinemas
Associated British Cinemas
ABC Cinemas was a cinema chain in the United Kingdom. A wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Picture Corporation , it operated between the 1930s and the late 1960s...

 (ABC) and Gaumont-British Cinemas.

After Deutsch died of cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 in 1941, his widow sold the Odeon chain to J. Arthur Rank
J. Arthur Rank
Joseph Arthur Rank, 1st Baron Rank was a British industrialist and film producer, and founder of the Rank Organisation, now known as The Rank Group Plc.- Family business :...

 and it became part of the Rank Organisation
Rank Organisation
The Rank Organisation was a British entertainment company formed during 1937 and absorbed in 1996 by The Rank Group Plc. It was the largest and most vertically-integrated film company in Britain, owning production, distribution and exhibition facilities....

, who also bought, but managed separately, Gaumont-British Cinemas.

Origin of "Odeon"

The original Odeons
Odeon (building)
Odeon is the name for several ancient Greek and Roman buildings built for singing exercises, musical shows and poetry competitions. They were generally small in size, especially compared with a full-size ancient Greek theatre....

 were the popular amphitheatres of ancient Greece. The name Odeon had been appropriated by cinemas in France and Italy in the 1920s, but Deutsch made it his own in the UK. His publicity team claimed Odeon stood for "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation".

See also

  • Odeon Cinemas
    Odeon Cinemas
    Odeon Cinemas is a British chain of cinemas, one of the largest in Europe. It is owned by Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group whose ultimate parent is Terra Firma Capital Partners.-History:Odeon Cinemas was created in 1928 by Oscar Deutsch...

  • Arnold Deutsch
    Arnold Deutsch
    Dr. Arnold Deutsch , variously described as Austrian, Czech, or Hungarian, was an academic who worked as a Soviet spy, most well known for having recruited Kim Philby. Much of his life remains unknown or disputed.-Early life:...

     - cousin and spy for the Russians who hired the Cambridge ring
  • Art Deco
    Art Deco
    Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

  • Harry Weedon
    Harry Weedon
    Harold William "Harry" Weedon was an English architect. Although he designed a large number of buildings during a long career, he is best known for his role overseeing the Art Deco designs of the Odeon Cinemas for Oscar Deutsch in the 1930s...

Further reading

  • Eyles, Allen Odeon Cinemas - Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation. London: British Film Institute 2001 ISBN 0-85170-813-7

External links