IT WAS a grey Saturday night in the city and the people huddling in the cinema watched the action unfold on the big screen.
But the real life action in the Cameo Cinema was soon to grip the whole nation. Two decent men lay dead from gunshot wounds.
It was 9.30pm on March 19, 1949. Cashier Ellen Jackman had carried £50 in takings up the spiral iron stairway to the office of Leonard Thomas, manager of this picture palace on Webster Road, Wavertree.
Moments later, she was resting in the staff room. Shots rang out. With two colleagues, she ran towards the office.
Someone was rattling the door and then there were more shots. A man burst out and told them get out of his way or he would "blow their heads off".
The man ran down the stairs to the fire exit of the Cameo. There was a short chase, but he vanished into the crowds on Smithdown Road.
Mr Thomas, 39, a father of two, had been shot once through the chest. Bernard Catterall, 30, his newly-married assistant, had been shot four times going to his aid.
Back at police headquarters, in Dale Street, Chief Superintendent Tom Smith, head of Liverpool CID, and Chief Inspector Herbert Balmer, were considering eye-witness reports saying the killer was about 5ft 8ins, between 20 and 30, with prominent eyebrows.
Thus began what was then Britain's biggest murder hunt.
Three months later, police in Wallasey were quizzing Donald Johnson, 23, habitual criminal and a failed suicide, who had been seen outside the cinema at the relevant time.
Although he was being questioned about an unrelated robbery, Johnson, of Hill Street, Liverpool, volunteered a surprisingly detailed knowledge of the Cameo killings.
In one interview, he said that he received a revolver from a man outside the cinema and later threw it into Wavertree Cemetery. It was not found.
Johnson refused to admit to the murders. But the police charged him with being an accessory after the fact.