A FESTIVAL of classic film evoking the golden age of Hollywood has been launched at one of York’s finest buildings celebrating its former life as a cinema.

1950s glamour and fashion took centre stage at Fairfax House last night for the gala opening of Witness For The Prosecution, which was originally screened at the Castlegate buidling in its former guise as St George’s Cinema.

Visitors to the red carpet evening, themed around Murder And Mystery and inspired by the ’fifties, were invited to dress up as their favourite film character, while local musicians provided period music.

It set the scene for a week promising intrigue, suspense and thrills as part of Silver Screen 2012.

The line-up features cinema’s finest actors, along with thrillers and “whodunnits” from the 1940s and 50s, screened across ten days until Sunday, November 18, featuring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Trevor Howard, Alastair Sim and Barbara Stanwyck.

Screenings will include Laura (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), Gaslight (1944), Green For Danger (1946), and Strangers On A Train (1951).

Hannah Phillip, director of Fairfax House said Silver Screen was now in its third season due to its popularity.

“We are delighted to be able to explore this hidden and unusual aspect of the house’s heritage, and to be opening St. George’s cinema doors once more at Fairfax House.

“The World War Two-themed festival in 2010 was an overwhelming success. Silver Screen cinema-goers loved the atmosphere and experience of stepping back in time to when cinema was at its heights.

“We have a superb line-up of classic films, many of which were actually screened at St George’s cinema. This is a special chance to relive its former days and to experience the house as it has not been seen since the 1960s and before. All the trappings of cinema-going during the 1950s will return – Commissionaire ticket-collecting to greet you at the door, usherettes to show you to your seat, ice-creams at the interval and of course the essential big screen back in place.”

Fairfax House is also running an oral history project to collect memories of St George’s Cinema and record the building’s 20th century history as a cinema and dancehall.