GOING TO THE PICTURES! On
February 6, 1952, HM King George 6 passed away.
That night I
was in the New Glen Cinema, Glenferrie Rd, Glenferrie, with my father,
watching the movie "Showboat", when the film was interrupted for an announcement
of the death of the King.
I had always been interested in the “pictures” – now known as the “cinema”!
My earliest cinema memories go back to 1945, when we lived in Auburn, an
era when going to the pictures was very popular, and the very first film I saw in a theatre was "Son of Lasssie" in that year.
There were four theatres near to our Auburn home, all within easy walking distance,:
Glenferrie Rd, Glenferrie –
Opened in 1917 as the Glenferrie Theatre became the Palais de Danse in 1927, then the
New Glen Theatre in 1930. It was converted for widescreen (CinemaScope) in 1955. It closed in
1956. The building still stands and is now the Glen Shopping Arcade.
Glenferrie Rd, Glenferrie, the Palace, about 50 metres from the Glen!
Opened in 1916, closed in 1956 and demolished to make way for a Woolworths supermarket.
Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, the Rivoli (still operating as a multi-screen complex!)
Built on 1940, this theatre had a large Wurlitzer
Organ, which rose slowly out of the floor in front of the stage.
Bourke Rd, Camberwell, the Broadway
No early history available, and closed down in the early 1960s. This theatre was run by Hoyts, and showed first release
films simultaneously with other selected theatres in the ciry and suburbs.The building still stands, and is now a shopping
These theatres had Saturday afternoon Matinees, for kids, and they were full houses.
The programs would start at around 1pm, and would include the feature film, an episode from a serial, newsreels, featurettes,
cartoons, and other offerings.
At intermission, a man would appear on the stage with a microphone and would conduct a session for us kids, talking
about next week's program, upcoming films, and run competitions.
The serials included such delights as King of the Mounted Police, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Superman, Tom Mix and
serials always ended at very exiciting points, so we all had to come back the following week to see what happened!
hit very hard in 1956, Melbourne's Olympic Games year. In that year, there were 124 suburban theatres operating - by 1961,
that figure had shrunk to 50. Many of those theatres were demolished - others were converted into Ten Pin Bowling
alleys, squash courts, warehouses - some became shopping arcades.
to bring back the droves of people who had forsaken the theatres, film companies introduced new ways of production. Much of
this surrounded the introduction of widescreen formats, stereophonic sound, beginning in 1953 with CInemaScope (35 mm 2.55:1
Other new formats
included VistaVision 1954, Panavision 1955 (70 mm film I.66:1 aspect), Todd-AO 70 mm 1958, Cinerama 1952 (three projectors with huge curved screen), Sensurround 1974.
the Glenferrie Theatres were closed down, I used to go to the Broadway in Camberwell. One film that I particularly enjoyed
was "The 5000 Fingers of Dr T", about a teenage boy (played by Tommy
Rettig) who fell sleep whilst practising the piano and was transported into a fantasy world. I was of a similar age to
this child actor, and I was also keen on the piano! I saw that film on September 11, 1954, in the school holidays, during
an afternoon session. The film is currently available on DVD and has an excellent storyline,excellent family entertainment
despite it being made nearly 60 years ago!..
later years, this young actor played the lead role in the "Lassie" TV
series, which were shown here in black/white format in the years 1957-1959. He also was in other films such as The Egyptian, and the River of No Return.
Sadly, he passed away in the 1996 at the age of 54
the years 1956 to 1958, I went to the Broadway every Friday night with a mate who was also doing the Trainee Technician
course. We had permanent bookings in seats F9 and F10, in the Stalls. In those years, it was almost a necessity to book in
advance for fiest release films in suburban picture theatres.
In early 1959
my mate unexepectedly decided to transfer permanently to his home town at Cohuna, in Northern Victoria, and disappointingly,
I never saw him again.
When we shifted
house to Mont Albert late in 1959, I started going to the Regent and Rialto theatres in our adjacent
suburb of Box Hill.
Both of these
theatres were built around 1936, and also fell victim to the inroads of TV, and had closed down by the early 1970s. The last
film I saw at the Rialto was "South Pacific" in 1959.
the years 1952 to 1960, I saw almost every widescreen film which was relesed in Melbourne, and I did a lot of research at
the time into the the technical features of the new formats, mainly studying audio systems, film production and projection
Here is a listing
of some of the films which I liked, showing the year and month I saw them imn the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and the names
of the theatres, where known!. Unless stated otherwise, the theatres were in central Melbourne. Yes, the year of 1945 seems
a long time ago!
1945 Son of Lassie, November, St. James (later became the Metro)
1945 Anchors Aweigh, December, St. James
1946 Smithy, July, State
1946 Fantasia re-release, June,
1947 Blue Skies (State)
1947 OSS, Feb, Park (Albert Park)
1947 The Overlanders, June, Majestic
1947 The Yearling, January, Rivoli (Camberwell)
1947 Song of the South, December, Esquire
of Home (Lassie series), June
1945 Lassie Come Home, January
1946 Road to Morocco
1946 Great Expectations
1948 Road to Rio, Rivoli
1949 Scott of the Antarctic, June, Savoy
1949 Red Shoes
1949 Gone With the Wind, re-release, December, Metro Collins St
1949 The Wizard of Oz, re-release, December, St. James
1950 Annie Get your Gun, April
When Worlds Collide
1950 Destination Moon
1950 Take Me Out to then Ballgame, St. James
1950 So Dear to my Heart, May, Plaza
1951 Quo Vadis
1952 This is Cinerama,
1952 Singin' in the Rain
1952 Bwana Devil,
natural vision 3D, May, Esquire
1953 Greatest Show on Earth State, February,
1953 The Wages of Fear, Savoy
1953 Metroscopix, 3D, April, re-release,
1953 Shane, December,
1953 The Robe, Regent
1953 Stalag 17
1953 The Beast from 20000 Fathoms
20000 Leagues Under the Sea, August, Barkly (Footscray)
1954 5000 Fingers of Dr T, September, Broadway (Camberwell)
1954 Brigadoon, December, Metro Collins St
1954 White Christmas, VistaVision, December, Kings (later became the Barclay)
1955 Far Horizons,
VistaVision, June, Kings
1955 Underwater, Capitol
1955 The Racers, Broadway (Camberwell)
1956 The King and I,
GALA WORLD PREMIERE, June 28, Victory (St Kilda)
1957 Bridge on the River Kwai
1959 South Pacific, Regent (Box Hill)
1961 101 Dalmations
1962 The Music Man
From 1970 onwards, my interest in the cinema dropped right away, due to the impact of TV, and the closure
of all of the theatres in my neighborhood.
I saw a few films in the 1970s to the present, mainly the big extravaganzas, to check out new projection
and production techniques. They included:
1970 2001 a Space Odyssey, Souh Yarra)
1972 The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (Majestic)
1974 Towering Inferno
1974 Earthquake (Sensurround) (St. James)
1976 The Sunshine Boys, January (Radio
City Music Hall, New York!)
1977 Starwars (Launceston, Tasmania)
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 Chariots of Fire
1982 Ghandi (Metro Malvern)
1983 Mad Max 2 (Metro Bourke St)
1997 Titanic (watched in Thai Airwys Jumbo Jet, between Melbourne and Bangkok!)
2002 The Space Station - iMax (Vancouver, Canada)
2004 Lord of the Rings - Return of the King (Wanaka, New Zealand,
in the Paradiso Theatre)
2011 The Lion King (3D), (Forest Hill)
2011 The Zookeeper
2011 Then Three Musketeers (3D) (Forest Hill)