THE YEAR 1939 was a good one for film.

Classic movies The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind were released that year, while Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights and Goodbye Mr Chips also made it to the screen.

For Glasgow film fans, however, 1939 marks the moment one of the city’s favourite picture houses opened its doors.

Eighty years ago, the Cosmo on Rose Street became the last cinema to be built in Glasgow before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Evening Times and Herald archives record many memorable moments in the life of the Cosmo, which was renamed Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) in 1974.

It was a popular spot in 1959, when Jazz On A Summer’s Day was shown – often, queues stretched all the way down Rose Street.

In 1967, workers making alterations to the cinema discovered a German incendiary bomb, dropped on the city in 1942. It had lain submerged in a water tank for 25 years.

Those alterations meant that when it opened, the Cosmo would have a liquor licence, reported the Evening Times that same year.

“The ABC-2 in Sauchiehall Street and the Coliseum in Eglinton Street already have licences,” said the report. “Glasgow Licensing Court yesterday granted a certificate for the Cosmo on condition that drink is served only for half an hour before the programme and, for half an hour at the intermission.”

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There was controversy too, over the years – in 1967, the Herald reported:

“Glasgow magistrates yesterday decided not to give a certificate for public showing to the film Ulysses, which was refused a certificate by the British Board of Film Censors.

“An application to allow public showing was made by Singleton Cinemas, Ltd., owners of the Cosmo Cinema, where the magistrates attended a private showing last Saturday.

“Bailie Donnelly said:-“While the language used in the commentary may be heard in some parts of the city, in my view this is not entertainment nor is it educational.””

The GFT was renovated in 2016 to improve accessibility to its three screens which show around 700 different titles a year from more than 60 countries, including many non-mainstream and classic titles not screened at any other cinema in Glasgow.

A registered charity, GFT was a pioneer of autism-friendly and audio-described screenings and is home to Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow Short Film Festival and Glasgow Youth Film Festival, the first film festival in Europe curated by 15 to 19-year-olds.

In fact, the Cosmo was the UK’s first purpose built art-house cinema outside London.

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When it opened, Glaswegians were the UK’s biggest cinema-goers – they went to the pictures an average of 51 times a year, compared to 35 times for the rest of Scotland and 21 in England.

At the opening, pioneering documentary filmmaker John Grierson said he believed it would contribute “not just to cultural vigour, but also the city’s democratic and social life.”

Falling audiences meant that in the 70s, its future became uncertain but thanks to a timely intervention by the Scottish Film Council, which was looking for a venue to create Scotland’s first ‘Regional Film Theatre’ , the GFT was born and it has become a much-loved part of the city’s cultural scene.

Many stars have wandered through its lovely art deco interiors, including Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Quentin Tarantino, Tilda Swinton and the cast of Game of Thrones.

What are your memories of the Cosmo and the GFT? Did you work there? What films and stars did you see there? Email your stories and photos to

Alternatively, write to Ann Fotheringham, Evening Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.