Looking Back - 1939 to 2011 - the Autobiography of Robert V. J. Padula, OAM

1946 - Going to the Pictures

1941 - Bikes and Cars
1943 - Hiking - Hills and Coasts
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 1
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 2
1944 - Growing up in the War Years - Part 3
1945 - Auburn schooldays - Part One
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Two
1945 - Auburn Schooldays - Part Three
1945 - Upwey and the Puffing Billy
1945 - Gramaphones and Record Players
1946 - Flinders St Station
1946 - Astronomy
1946 - Beach and Swimming Adventures
1946 - Going to the Pictures
1947 - Adventures at the Altona Bungalow
1947 -The Listener-In Magazine
1947 - Balwyn WIldlife Sanctuary
1948 - Fishermen's Bend Aerodrome
1948 - Radio Australia QSL cards
1948 - Excursions
1949 - Australian Rules Football
1949 - Radio Monitoring at Auburn
1950 -Trains and Ships
1950 - Radios for Communications
1950 - Radio Listening Clubs in Australia
1950 - World Radio TV Handbook
1950 - Shortwave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Medium Wave Radio Propagation Research
1950 - Radio and Hobbies Magazines
1950 - Discovering shortwave radio at Auburn
1951 - Photography
1951 - Competitions on local radio stations
1952 - Camp Buxton - YMCA Shoreham
1952 Tennis and Ten Pin Bowling
1953 - Stamp Collectiong
1953 Camberwell High School
1954 - Royal Visit to Melbourne
1954 - Shortwave Radio reception at Auburn
1956 - Melbourne's Olympic Games
1956 - Trainee Telecommunications' Technician
1957 - Trainee Technician - field work
1957 - National Service Registration
1958 - Laverton Air Show
1958 - MOOMBA Parade
1958 - Trainee Technician - field work
1959 - The move to Mont Albert
1960 - Working at Deepdene Telephone Exchange
1963 - Trade Unions, Staff Associations, Industrial Relations
1964 - Senior Technician work in the Melbourne CBD
1964 - Project support for Radio Australia
1964 - Amateur Radio
1964 - Media Writing
1964 -Travels
1964 - Engineering Support for International Broadcasters
1965 - Professional Employment with PMG/Telstra
1967 - Professional Qualifications - Institution of Engineers Australia
1967 - Australian Radio DX Club Photo Gallery (to 1979)
1972 - Wireless Institute of Australia
1972 - Natural disasters in Melbourne
1980 - Australian Radio DX Club Gallery (to 1995)
1981 - Award of the Medal of the Order of Australia
1995 - Padula Books
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Oldtime Australian Radio Drama from the 1930s
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Radio Monitoring Clubs in Australia - 1920 to 1949
SPECIAL CHAPTER - Melbourne Picture Theatres - History - 1906 to 1970

1945 Song of South poster

Click the link (below) to hear the main song from Song of the South, a brilliant film from Walt Disney which I saw in 1947!


Palace Theatre, Glenferrie, in 1940s


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 – the Glen
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 complex. .


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 the like!


These serials always ended at very exiciting points, so we all had to come back the following week to see what happened!


Television 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.


In attempts 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 aspect ratio).


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.


After 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!..


In 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


In 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.


In 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 equipment..


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, Australia Cinema
1947 Blue Skies (State)
1947 OSS, Feb, Park (Albert Park)
1947 The Overlanders, June, Majestic
1947 OliverTwist
1947 The Yearling, January, Rivoli (Camberwell)
1947 Song of the South, December, Esquire
1949 Hills 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,
1950 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, Plaza
1952 Singin' in the Rain
1952 Bwana Devil, natural vision 3D, May, Esquire
1953 Greatest Show on Earth State, February, State
1953 The Wages of Fear, Savoy
1953 Metroscopix, 3D, April, re-release, Metro Malvern
1953 Shane, December,
1953 The Robe, Regent
1953 Stalag 17
1953 The Beast from 20000 Fathoms
1954 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 Kismet
1955 Underwater, Capitol
1955 Oklahoma
1955 The Racers, Broadway (Camberwell)
1956 The King and I, GALA WORLD PREMIERE, June 28, Victory (St Kilda)
1956 Smiley
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)
1973 Pappilon
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 (Me
tro Malvern)
1982 Gallipoli
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 (Forest Hill)
2011 Then Three Musketeers (3D) (Forest Hill)

1930s - the Glen Theatre

Actor Tommy Rettig and Lassie, TV series 1955

Cast of Lassie TV series, 1955

1953 - 5000 Fingers of Dr T

1946 - Son of Lassie

1956 - Smiley

1954 - White Christmas

1952 - Cinerama

1974 - Earthquake

19347 - The Overlanders

1963 - Around the World in 80 Days

1947 - Song of the South poster

1940s - Broadway Camberwell

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