With seating for 488, the Prince Charles cinema, Leicester Place, WC2, is not too big, not too small; somewhere between popcorn palace and arthouse intimate. It's a happy oddity, right down to its staff, each and every one a budding stand-up comic or ripe eccentric - rush now and listen to the cinema's answerphone: 071-437 8181.

The Prince Charles is truly a hybrid. The programming has a repertory directness (it shows four to five films a day) at better than repertory prices (usually pounds 1.99 for evening screenings, pounds 1.50 for afternoon delights). But the films are usually - not always - commerical fare that has finished its first run in the capital's ruinously expensive multiplexes. The Prince Charles stops them on their way to video to give cineastes and the lazy a chance to catch up. It's a sort of bargain basement for epics as diverse as Striking Distance (another Bruce Willis turkey), Mon Pere Ce Heros (the French original of My Father the Hero), Naked (Mike Leigh gets glum about Britain -again) and Mrs Doubtfire (Robin Williams proves he's a tit man).

Every week is an invigorating lucky dip. For instance, next Wednesday you could sit through Beyond Bedlam, Thelma and Louise, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Kalifornia without having to feel like a pariah for enjoying the collective body-count. Indeed, the folks in the row behind you will understand and cheerfully debate the merits of the Bad Lieutenant, falling politely silent the moment the lights dim - examples of erudition and good manners that make the PC the oasis that it is.

(Photograph omitted)

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