It’s getting on for half a century since huge queues like the one in the photo above were seen in Southend – and it was all down to a film.

It was July of 1973 and cinema-goers lined up for hours in the High Street, outside the Odeon, to get in to see the latest James Bond blockbuster – Live and Let Die.

The movie was such a draw that 27,000 people watched it in the first three weeks it showed at the Southend Odeon and at times queues stretched for 400 yards (1,200 ft) around the block.

Arthur Levenson, the legendary manager of the Odeon for many years, said at the time that even he was blown away by the film’s success: “I haven’t seen queues like this for 20 years – they are incredible,” he said.

“All of the James Bond films have been big hits but this one has the strongest appeal yet.

“Every age group is queuing to see it – youngsters and senior citizens. James Bond is pure entertainment – escapism at its very best and the public just love it.”

Mr Levenson said he’d had to turn people away from showings as there just weren’t enough seats to cater for demand.

The family pictured in the photo gallery were the first in line for a showing. Peter Mazirel from Burlescombe Crescent, Thorpe Bay and his family had lined up for hours to ensure their seats.

So what was the big attraction? Perhaps it was the fact that Live and Let Die was Roger Moore’s first outing as Bond. Or was it catchy theme tune by Paul McCartney and his group, Wings? Maybe it was Bond’s gadget-tastic magnetic Rolex watch or that iconic crocodile jump escape scene? Whatever it was the film’s box office appeal was a boon to Southend’s cinemas.

Four years later, in 1977, queues like these would be seen again, this time with the release of the original Star Wars film.