It was destroyed by a fire in October 1950 and a new theatre built within the shell, reopening as the Odeon Theatre in
November 1951. The theatre closed in February 1978.
St James, Bourke St
in 1860, became the Palace, then the Apollo, then the St James, then the Metro (until 1970). After several ownership changes,
it was developed in 2007 using the original name of the Palace. It was equipped to show films produced in Sensurround
in 1974, and I saw, and felt (!) two of these films - Earthquake (1974),
and the Battle of Midway (1976). No further Sensurround films were made
The effects were amazing, with patrons feeling, as well as hearing and seeing the action! The whole theatre
shook and vibrated. Special "horns" and low frequency speakers were installed under the seats. Earthquake rumblings,
aircraft bombing raids, and explosions were hugely realistic.
Lyceum, Bourke St.
Origins unknown, became the Paris,
then disappeared when Tivoli Court was built in the 1970s.
Esquire, Bourke St
Built in 1908, originally known as St George's
Hall, then Hoyts de Luxe, renamed Esquire in 1946, then vanished inside the Target shopping complex in 1976. In 1958,
it installed the new Todd-AO 70 mm projection equipment, showing "Around the World in 80 Days",
which I saw in that year.
Kings, Russell St
In the 1960s, became the Barclay, then absorbed
into a new commrcial development. This was the first theatre in Melbourne Central to jnstall the new VistaVision projection
equipment, screening "White Christmas" which I saw..
Regent/Plaze, Collins St
Regent was almost completely destroyed in the fire of 1945,
but was rebuilt and reopened in 1947. It was closed in 1970 and later redeveloped for musical shows and concerts, in 1996,
until the present. It was the biggest cinemna of the time in Australia.
The Plaza was underneath the Regent, originally a ballroom, then a cinema, closed by 1970. There was an excellent
chocolate shop next door to the Plaza which I liked to visit!
This theatre was the only one in Melbourne which could
show the triple-strip Cinerama films, from 1958 until 1970. It is now a function room for patrons attending the upstairs Regent.
State, Flinders St
Built in 1929, seating a massive 3371 patrons.
The interior was magnificent, with chandeliers columns, and pillars, and the ceiling was black, with myriads of twinkling
lights and moving clouds, representing the stars at night. Had a Wurlitzer organ. Was divided into two theatres in 1963, and
the larger one was known as the Forum.
The King and I - world premiere at Victory Theatre, St KIlda, June 28, 1956.
I attended this screening with two traineee technician mates! This was glitter, colored lights, bands, and many
guests arriving in tuxedos and evening dress! The producers, Rogers and Hamerstein were in the audience and after
every song, the entire theatre rose as one and applauded.
We were only 16 years old, and dresased in our PMG royal blue blazers.
The film ran for over three hours. When it was released for general public viewing, two songs were deleted, to bring back
the duration to something a little more convenient!
I bought vinyl records of most of the big musical films which were released in the 1950s and 1960s and these are safely
Nowadays, there are thousands of movie titles available on DVDs, many being originally released in the
1930s. There are innumerable Web Sites with reviews and DVD pricing!
THE ALTONA THEATRE
When we had the bungalow at Altona, west of
Melbourne, between 1947 and 1959, we went to the Strand Theatre in Pier St on several occasions. This was built in 1926, burned
down in 1954 and was demolished in 1963 for a shopping complex. It was somewhat primitive, being a large shed,
but was equipped for widescreen and multiple speaker sound. It was also used as a meeting hall for community and civic functions.
These began to appear in the mid-1950s. The
first one in Melbourne commenced in 1954 at Burwood, not far from Mont Albert - by 1970 there were 20 operating in Melbourne
and many others in country areas.
TV affected patronage of the drive-ins and by 1980 most had been closed down or converted for other activities,
such as rollerblading or open-air markets..A few still operate today, and they were often known as "places of sin", where
watching the film was secondary to the amorous activities which took place in the cars! I only ever went a Drivein once, and
I can't recall which one it was!
These were scattered around central
Melbourne, and the first appeared in 1932. Most were below street level - some were adfjacwebnt, or integrated with the large
Century (Swanston St)
Built 1940, which became the Swanston, then the Capitol 2, until closure in 1970.
The Albany (Collins St)
Opwned 1936, later became a
sex theatre "The Pussycat", closed 1989
Star (cnr Elizabeth St and Flinders
Opened 1951, became the Crazyhorse Sex Theatre until now!,
Times (Collins St, basement of the former Odeon theatre)
1932, closed 1978
Savoy (Russell St)
Opened 1939, converted to a Continental
sourced films, (ie: sex!) in 1950, closed 1963.
These establishments screened continuous newsreels from Movietone, Pathe and Cinesound, wirth cartoons.
There were no internissions and it was possible to sit there all day!
I went to all
of those theatres.
NEAR OUR HOME IN MONT ALBERT
When we moved
from Auburn to Mont Albert in 1959, TV had become the primary entertainment medium for most of us. I didn't go again
to the theatres in Camberwell after that, as there were two local theatres in Box Hill, our adjacent suburb, where I
saw a few films until they closed down in 1961.
Rialto, Whitehorse Rd
Built in 1883 as the "Recreation Hall", then became the Rialto in 1929, and closed
in 1961. The building is still there and It became a shopping arcade.
Regent, Whitehorse Rd
Not far from the Rialto. Opened in 1920 as the Lyric, then became the "New" Theatre,
then renamed the Regent in 1937. It closed down in 1960, and was demolished for a five story office block/shops. The last
film I saw there was "South Pacific in early 1959.
THEATRE VISITS OUTSIDE OF MELBOURNE
saw films at several theatres away from Melbourne in the years 1976 until 2004.
1976 The Sunshine Boys, January (Radio
City Music Hall, New York!)
1977 Starwars (Launceston, Tasmania)
1997 Titanic (watched in Thai Airways Jumbo Jet, en route between Melbourne
2002 The Space Station - iMax (Vancouver, Canada)
2004 Lord of the Rings - Return of the King (Wanaka, New Zealand,
in the Paradiso Theatre)
Radio City Music Hall experience was certainly very interesting! As well as
the film "The Sumshine Boys", we were entertained by a brilliant stage
performance by the Rockettes dancing girls.
There was once an open-air theatre in the main camping area at Tidal River, Wilson's
Promontory National Park, 150 km SE of Melbourne. I recall seeing a show there on a camping trip in the summer of 1951/1952!