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film commented about Carlton Movie House on Jul 20, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Message to Haydn Keenan

The Exhibitor who ran your 30 minute featurette (One Man Bike) was the late Gordon McClelland. His family ran the Carlton Cinema from 1924. Gordon was a highly respected member of the Cinema Industry & a great supporter of Independent film-making, and a valued friend of this writer – Gordon McClelland, together with the late Baz Brownbill of the Pix Theatre Geelong, pioneered class-room school screenings in Victoria, utilizing 35mm portables – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Globe Theatre on Jul 5, 2019 at 10:12 am

Statement of Significance for The Globe Theatre Winchelsea

The Globe Theatre was built in Winchelsea in 1926-27 as a picture theatre and concert hall. Constructed by the Lawrence family, it provided a venue for the local talent, Marjorie Lawrence, to perform. Lawrence, who became an internationally acclaimed soprano, gave her farewell concert in the building in 1928, prior to studying in Paris, and gave her first return concert there in 1939. The theatre was also used for movie screenings, weddings, dances and horticultural shows. In 1946 the theatre was acquired by the Winchelsea Shire Council and since 1990 has been managed by the local Lions Club.

The simple, hall-like building has a main broad gable roof and a smaller gable to the front, both of which terminate in eaves along the sides of the building. At the front, a bold, bracketed, stepped parapet conceals the building behind. The original skillion veranda across the front facade was replaced by one of similar form in 1992. Paired ventilation stacks dominate the ridge line of the main roof. The original portions of the building are clad with galvanized iron sheeting to dado level, folded to reflect strapped horizontal boards. The upper walls are clad with strapped cement sheets. Double hung, paned windows with segmental arched pediments above, line the sides of the hall, and paned windows and ticket openings flank the central front entrance.

The interior of the main hall has a coved, decorative pressed metal ceiling, with pressed metal ceiling roses and ventilation openings. An original landscape scenery back drop remains in place at the rear of the stage. Interior walls of the foyer and the hall have timber dados, strapped cement sheet wall cladding and pressed metal ceilings. The original dressing rooms at the rear of the building have been replaced by a brick addition.

Why is it significant? The Globe Theatre, Winchelsea is of historical significance for its association with Marjorie Lawrence, who became the leading dramatic soprano for the Paris Opera Company and also triumphed in New York, performing with the Metropolitan Opera.

The Globe Theatre, Winchelsea is of architectural significance as a small, intact example of a theatre built in a Victorian country town. The building retains much of its early form and original decoration, including a rare surviving early scenery backdrop.

The Globe Theatre, Winchelsea is of scientific (technical) significance for its use of galvanised iron folded sheeting as a form of cladding. This form of cladding would appear to be highly unusual – Contributed by Greg Lynch courtesy of Heritage Council Victoria –

film commented about Hoyts Castle Theatre on Jul 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

The Cumberland Argus and Fruit growers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW – Wednesday 17 December 1947, Page 5, writes – NEW THEATRE FOR GRANVILLE

With the gala opening of the new Hoyts Castle Theatre, Granville, on Boxing Day, there will dawn a new trend in Motion Picture Theatre design — Sydney’s first real post-war theatre. Named, as many Granville residents will remember, after the original open-air theatre, which once occupied the site. This palatial edifice will present the most modern overseas methods in theatre construction and yet combine comfort and beauty, together with the high class in programme presentation, always associated with Hoyts Theatres.

Realizing the growing need for a modern theatre in Granville and at the same time, bearing in mind the acute building situation in Australia today, the architect’s pencil has given Granville a concrete construction of everlasting beauty. Its all steel, igloo type roof, single sloping floor, up to the minute- air-cooling and heating plant; its ultra-modern projection equipment and acoustics, make it a theatre as modern as tomorrow, a theatre of good looks, snug comfort and fine appointments. Now that it is a reality, Hoyts will continue their policy built up over years of experience, in the presentation of only the cream in motion picture entertainment – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Newmarket Theatre on Apr 5, 2019 at 6:04 pm

Greg Lynch says – “THE NEWMARKET PICTURE THEATRE was the beginning of The McLeish chain of theatres – Sat, 5 May 1915 and “The Newmarket Picture Theatre is RE-OPENING UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. – Mr. Robert McLeish, well-known for his success at the Northcote Theatre. The Newmarket Picture Theatre will be re-opened on Saturday. The theatre has received a thorough overhaul, being renovated and decorated throughout and has been provided with new seating, floor cloths, and electric lighting.” – The Herald (Melbourne, Vic) Sat, 5 May 1915 said: – Newmarket residents are to be congratulated upon the possession of a picture theatre that will challenge comparison with the very best that any of the Melbourne suburbs can boast. The building is an imposing structure, with outstanding architectural features. Through the enterprise of Mr Robert McLeish, it has been transformed both externally and internally Into a most handsome and up-to-date picture house, and one in which the convenience and comfort of patrons have received special attention. It has been renovated, re-seated, and decorated throughout. The approaches to the dress circle and main hall have been beautified with a tasteful and artistic design of cream colouring, and enhanced with a series of finely executed decorative panels in blue and fawn. For the main hall the colour scheme is a harmonious blending of white and brown, in keeping with the suggestion of light and brightness aimed at in the general design. The Newmarket Theatre is the first of a chain of theatres which it is his intention of running in conjunction with the theatre business he has already established in the suburb of Northcote –

DEATH OF A GREAT SHOWMAN The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) Wed, 7 Oct 1953 – Page 3 By F. KEITH MANZIE – THE Australian film industry suffered an irreparable loss yesterday in the death of veteran showman Robert McLeish. No one in Australia has done more in pioneering and establishing motion pictures and Cinema in this country. THEATRES in the McLeish chain, such as the luxurious Regal, in Hartwell, and Rivoli, in Upper Hawthorn, did much to gain for Melbourne suburban cinemas the reputation of “the best in the world. Mr. McLeish was a tireless worker for Melbourne’s charities and needy film industry employees. He has been President of the famed Green Room Club since 1920, the genial Bob had an international reputation as a host to visitors. And it was Bob’s own money which sustained this theatrical club when it passed through parlous times. ROBERT McLEISH, who was 70, began life in North Melbourne – where another world famous film personality in Al Daft, now chief executive of Universal Pictures in America also had his beginning. It was as a silvery throated baritone that he broke into show business. As a singer of “heart throb” songs – such as “Goodbye, Little Girl, Goodbye,” and “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree” – Mr. McLeish was in great demand at the start of the century at Sunday night open-air concerts, and singing in front of the screen at silent film shows. AFTER appearing in Tivoli Theatre minstrel shows, Mr McLeish went into management for himself, conducting “McLeish’s Weekly Pops” in suburban and country town halls throughout Victoria and Tasmania. Then, sensing the potential growth of screen plays & cinema, he took over managership of the Northcote Theatre in 1912, where he showed complete programmes of pictures, instead of the mixed vaudeville-movie shows previously presented. In 1917 he leased the NEWMARKET THEATRE, and then acquired the Clifton Hill Theatre in 1918; and in 1921 the McLeish “chain” really started to operate with the building of the Rivoli Theatre, in Camberwell.

In 1944 Mr McLeish won the title of “Mr Melbourne” in a competition conducted in aid of the Australian Com- forts Fund. As the Amusement Industries candidate he topped the poll with something like a million and a half votes; which represented the sum of £18,148. – WHEN not working on behalf of the entertainment industry Bob McLeish found time to take a keen interest in horse racing. He was a member of the Victoria Racing Club, the Victorian Amateur Turf Club, the Melbourne Racing Club, and the Moonee Valley Racing Club. Mr McLeish added to an impressive personality a rare flair for story-telling and a rich gift for making speeches, *GREEN ROOM CLUB members gathered yesterday to drink a silent toast to the passing of a loved president and a good friend. Mr McLeish leaves his son, Rob, to carry on for him at the Green Room Club and in the conducting of the affairs of the McLeish Theatre circuit. The funeral service is to be held at St. George’s Church of England, Glenferrie road. (next to the Malvern Town Hall), at 2 p.m. today. It will be conducted by the Rev. Roscoe Wilson. The Funeral will then proceed to Springvale Crematorium. –

film commented about Newmarket Theatre on Apr 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm

GREG LYNCH UPDATE – “THE NEWMARKET THEATRE” – The Flemington Spectator October 30, 1913 (references the opening of The Newmarket Theatre as November 1, 1913.) The Newmarket Theatre was built on a site that was a Hay Store. The Exhibitor is registered as Greater J. D. Williams Amusement Company. The theatre flourished until 1915 when the manager Mr. G. W. Brown made application to The City of Melbourne to pay the theatres rates in installments. Melbourne’s growth rate had stalled and the level of wages remained far lower than it had been in the 1880s. As a result, urban poverty became a feature of city life, and the slum areas of the inner industrial suburbs were spreading. The signs were bad and theatre attendance numbers continued to fluctuate over the years to follow. Then on Thurs 11 Feb, 1915 The Essendon Gazette ran the following extra – ordinary advertisement / article for The Newmarket Theatre …. Quote: “You should not fail to attend the matinee on Saturday next, February 13th at the above well-known theatre, where pictures of only the highest class are screened. We are now in a state of depression, however there is no reason why you should be prevented from having some enjoyment at a moderate cost.

The manager of The Newmarket Theatre has very wisely decided to present at each Saturday matinee such articles as Flour, Sugar and Wood which every householder will find of great' benefit. The prize to be given at next Saturday’s matinee will be One Ton of Wood delivered to your home, wherever you may live.” end quote…. By 1916 the social environment appeared to have improved and on Thurs 1 Jun 1916, The Flemington Spectator ran the following advertisement / article for The Newmarket Theatre – Quote: “ This well-known and favourite theatre is showing some good pictures just now and is drawing splendid houses. ‘The manager, Mr. G. W. Brown, announces that “The Rosary” will be shown this evening and on Friday and Saturday. Then on Monday night, in addition to the pictures, live on stage will be the Kilties’ Band, vocalists, instrumentalists and entertainers. Tuesday will be a Chaplin night, including the most laughable Chaplin comedy, “The Woman,” and this will be shown for the first time in Newmarket.“ end quote…

Thurs 3 May 1917 and The Essendon Gazette announces big changes. Quote: “The Newmarket Picture Theatre is RE-OPENING UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT under the guidance of Mr. Robert McLeish, well-known for his success at the Northcote Theatre. The Newmarket Picture Theatre will be re-opened on Saturday next. The theatre has received a thorough overhaul, being renovated and decorated throughout and has been provided with new seating, floor cloths, and electric lighting, A Simplex Biograph has been installed, which is claimed to be one of the best in the world. The programmes will be accompanied by the capable operatic orchestra under the direction of Mr.Geo. H. Breatnall. For the opening night special attractions have been secured with, Mary Pickford in “Hulda from Holland” supported by Olga Petrova in “The Black Butterfly” end quote – Special note: (The Black Butterfly is a now lost 1916 American silent drama film starring Olga Petrova and released by Metro Pictures. The last known copy was destroyed in the 1967 MGM Vault fire). Mr. Robert McLeish passed away Wed, 7 Oct 1953 at the age of 70, and it is believed that his son Rob carried on with the theatre until the television juggernaut caught up with him in the late 50’s. McLeish closed the theatre on 1st Jan, 1959.

The theatre continued under the exhibitors De S. Petro & S. Fava for a further two years running Italian language films. After this period the premises were rented out as a dance hall, which became famous as the birthplace of a Rock ‘n’ Roll band called The Blue Jays, who were running dances to good crowds twice a week. Marcus Herman legendary founder of Crest Records took the opportunity to record the band at the theatre resulting in a series of singles and EPs. – To quote Milesago: – The Blue Jays were already well established in Melbourne and one of the city’s leading dance groups. They formed in 1959, with the original lineup being Frankie Brent, Doug Stirling, Chris Lawson and Bobby Johnson. They cut a series of swinging instrumental singles and EPs for the Crest label, as well as a 1961 LP, “Twisting With The Blue Jays” and The Arthur Murray Twist Party Featuring The Blue Jays Big Dance Beat. Like so many Aussie bands, there was a regular turnover of personnel, and some of the members who passed through included Laurie Allen (later to be half of pop duo Bobby & Laurie), Johnny Cosgrove, Alan Easterbrook and Ray Houston. – The doors of the “now” NEWMARKET PICTURE THEATRE finally closed sometime during the middle 60’s and was ultimately demolished….Greg Lynch –

film commented about Coliseum Picture Palace on Mar 23, 2019 at 9:02 am

Coliseum Picture Palace Little Bridge Street, Ballarat, VIC

Congratulations Katrina Slater, great photos and a really nice effort. Your efforts are appreciated ! – Greg Lynch –

film commented about Paramount Theatre on Feb 17, 2019 at 7:57 pm

The Paramount Theatre Oakleigh – To complete the story – Ron Kitchen acquired the Paramount in 1946, and ran the theatre until 1966.

Tribute: Ron Kitchen was a builder by trade who came to own a theatre. During his time at the Paramount he installed CinemaScope & VistaVision & was regarded as a switched on Exhibitor & Showman. The Paramount advertised programs under the newspaper banner of “Suburban Theatres Tonight”. Ron’s close personal friends were industry based, such as the late Brian Casey (Universal Pictures) & the late Keith Milroy (British Empire Films), & this writer was very happy to call him friend. Ron had experienced severe personal tragedy, yet was always affable, and in addition, a much respected member of “The Society of Cinema Pioneers”. . “Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures” through Peter Young purchased the building in 1966, and ran as a cinema, showcasing Greek product until 1971. The Paramount stood empty and was shuttered for many years, & then finally demolished in 2015 – VALE RON KITCHEN – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Lakeside Drive-In on Feb 17, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Lakeside Drive-in Theatre, Yarrawonga Opened: Tues March 21, 1961 Location: Murray Valley Hwy, Yarrawonga, Victoria, Australia… Capacity: 380 Cars…… Operators : The Scott Family (David & Murial – owners) managed for the Scott’s by Kevin Harbrow during the 60’s & 70’s. Then Bob Jane & brother during the 80’s …. The operator at closing – Steve McDonnell …. The Lakeside closed: 17th April 1999.

Brief history: Greg Lynch says – The Lakeside Drive-in theatre, Yarrawonga is located near the Victoria/NSW boarder, on the main Hwy running into town. After the Grove Open Air theatre closed in 1964, The Lakeside was the only film venue in town for most of the last 40 years, In the early days the Lakeside traded well. Yarrawonga had the advantage of a large summer influx of water-skiers who would swell the ramps. The Projection room was at the front of the snack bar/toilet building. (refer to the photo) Fenced gardens were in front of the ground floor projection room, to stop little kids and big kids making rabbit ears in the projection beam. The irony is, despite a small population of only 3,500, Yarrawonga had a drive-in theatre that operated until 1999.(the population today is 7057) The reasons for the closure are many. Along with the easy access to video tape movies, drive in theatres just fell out of fashion. The Lakeside Drive – in theatre was owned in the beginning by The Scott Family from Cobram. Muriel Scott ran the Melba Theatre in Cobram, Victoria, while David would ultimately build & operate, The Stargazer Drive in theatre in Albury NSW.. Later years – The Lakeside drive in was resurrected and operated on & off during the summer months, while competing against movies shown at the Town Hall. It’s difficult to operate a venture that only makes money during the warmer months. Today this picture paddock is once again dark. A lot of interest in the town of Yarrawonga has disappeared for an old Picture Show Man like myself. Call me old fashioned, or just someone who liked to relax in his car on a nice summers night & enjoy a movie under the stars. Regretfully the drive-in on the highway is no more, and for industry people the paddock will always remain dark…

film commented about Hoyts Rialto Kew on Feb 13, 2019 at 7:01 pm

For those who believe that old cinemas have souls, you could argue that there is much more to a theatre than just bricks and mortar. Should we consider the personalities of the owners & staff, along with the memories of a passing parade of countless movie fans, who over the years were cocooned in the mysterious darkness of the Rialto Theatre, while enjoying the transported screen images of time and place.

If memory permits the year is 1957 and Ken Neck (Hoyts Chief Engineer) sends this writer to The Rialto Theatre Kew, to take up the position of assistant to Bill Kerr (head projectionist). Up to this point I had been on the relief circuit, working at places such as The Lyceum & Athenaeum theatres in Melbourne City, and later at The Padua & Alhambra theatres in Bell Street Brunswick. The TV juggernaut had begun and Hollywood’s Golden Age was over. Broadcast television was free, except for the required Government TV Licence which was introduced in 1957, costing a whopping five pounds per year. For those in the cinema industry television was the enemy, which was to be bad mouthed at every opportunity, as we watched in desperation as attendance’s slipped away.

Despite the slippery slope we found ourselves travelling, there were many great movies screened at “The Rialto” during the 50’s. It was during this period that Hoyts created “The Regency Release” – This referred to movies screened at The Regent Theatre in the city. There would be a delay of, say two weeks into the season, and then selected suburban theatres like “The Rialto” could participate day & date with the city release. Such an occasion was the Warner Brothers movie “Sayanora” starring Marlon Brando & Red Buttons. A Regency release was a most prestigious engagement and one of the weapons Hoyts were using to entice people back to the cinema.

My arrival at “The Rialto” coincided with the installation of a much needed improved exhaust system in the projection booth, along with “Calder Arcs” to replace the previous generation of antique light sources. The projectors were long working C&W’s. The theatre was an island, a place where the staff existed in mortal fear of a visit from head-office, or even worse a new theatre manager. Such a person was Vernon Rawlings, fresh from the UK, who arrived with many strange ideas on theatre presentation. Traditionally the news-reel opened the show, but no, Mr Rawlings insisted that we run the news straight after the first feature, then close for interval – this caused a lot of anxiety in the projection booth. Managers came and went at “The Rialto” on a regular basic. One that I had a lot of affection for was Stanley (Hamlet) Henry. He came to us from Hoyts “New Theatre Albury”. An older well preserved gentlemen who had a habit of eloquently quoting Shakespeare at the drop of a hankie. Every week we received a screening list from Hoyts Program Director, Lou Somprou . A beautiful man who’s greatest sin was to book Liberace’s “Sincerely Yours” with Rock Around The Clock. This caused a riot at “The Rialto” as the entire theatre gathered in the front foyer during “Sincerely Yours” waiting for “Rock Around The Clock” to start after interval. I was to remind him of this with a smile on my face, many times during his life-time.

As mentioned a visit from head-office was treated with great apprehension. There were two gentlemen who were greatly feared, namely Joe Walker and Alan McDowell. Both were theatre supervisors of extreme efficiency. If you looked sideways you were out the door with a boot up the backside. The only reason I survived is that I answered to Ken Neck (The Chief Engineer) This wonderful man saved me a number of times from the wrath of Joe. For those who don’t know Joe Walker was the father of the late Ron Walker, the former Australian Grand Prix boss and co-founder of Melbourne’s Crown Casino. The cleaning lady at “The Rialto” (for the sake of description) over a long period was Mrs Monks, a hard working woman, whose husband was the manager of the famous Collins Street store of Hillier Chocolates, located inside Hoyts Regent Theatre. The Monks went on to purchase and run an old style double story boarding house in Burnett Street, St Kilda. This writer was their first customer. Bill Kerr the senior projectionist moved on and was replaced by Frank Johnson. Frank was an extremely capable man who was employed by Hoyts in the daytime to strip out doomed theatres, while at night he showed pictures at The Rialto". As the 50’s moved along theatres were closing because of television, almost on a monthly basis. Every week we expected word to arrive of our demise. Many beautiful theatres were closed during that dark period, and usually a petrol station sprung up in it’s place. Frank and myself were an interesting combination, because by this time I was repairing Hoyts Neon signs in the daytime. and assisting nightly in “The Rialto” projection booth.

Over the years many interesting people passed through The Rialto. Roy Ramsey for one. Roy was a re-leaving projectionist who was elevated to Chief Engineer with Hoyts. This position had been previously held by Ken Neck and Syd Emerson. Dingy Bell, (the Hoyts carrier) was a memorable personality whom I had the pleasure of working with on numerous occasions. Dingy was a regular visitor to “The Rialto” delivering cleaning supplies and helping where needed.

Channel Nine celebrity, Philip Brady was a regular picture goer at “The Rialto” One night the theatre staff were agog as Philip walked in with John Landy, and the Bob Dyer quiz king, Barry Jones. From memory they had come to see “The King & I” in CinemaScope 55, and It kept the staff talking for a week. The Rialto theatre survived till 1961, until the lights went out and the theatre fell dark in High Street. For me “The Rialto Theatre Kew” will always be a special place. A place where a young projectionist met, romanced and wedded the girl in the milk bar opposite, 58 years and two daughters past. Ken Neck, always my savior transferred me to Hoyts Palace Theatre Glenferrie, 9 months before the closure of “The Rialto”, and the next stage of a 65 year career in the entertainment business began.

Projectionists are now a dying breed. Digital projection has replaced the screening of film. This means the projectionist of the past is no longer required. Cinema managers are now trained to operate the equipment and program the hard-drives … Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Hoyts Broadway Theatre on Jan 5, 2019 at 9:45 pm

Management (Hoyts) of the Broadway Theatre Camberwell announced on Feb 20, 1930 that the theatre will close for the installation of Talkies, and then re-open on Feb 24 with “The Follies” & Talkie shorts. – Reference “Table Talk” Newspaper – Thurs Feb 20, 1924 … Comment : Ken Lemmon was one of the projectionist’s who worked in The Broadway Bio Box during the introduction of the latest talkie technology – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Rialto Theatre on Dec 27, 2018 at 5:05 pm

BOX HILL PICTURES (1915) At The Recreation hall. Williams' Box Hill Pictures drew one of the best crowds ever in the Recreation hall last Saturday night. A splendid programme was shown, including the 6th series of ‘Lucille Love,’ a 30,000 feet star film that is being shown in sections of 2000 feet each Saturday. Though not as exciting as some other parts, it is a very nice portion, a side-splitting Keystone, ‘Between Showers, and other comedies kept the crowd in good humor, while a topical war-film gave some insight into the happenings in Europe. ‘Bully Boy’ was the idea a sketch artist has of the finish of the ‘War Devil, as he calls him, showing, amongst other interesting sketches, the Kaiser being swallowed up by a British bull dog, and the applause that followed showed that also suited the feelings of local residents. Next Saturday the 6th series of ‘Lucille Love’ is to be shown, along with other dramas, comedies, topical war gazettes, and pictures of interest, and to suit patrons who live up the line a longer programme will be shown, so that those who have to catch the train leaving Box-Hill at 11.05, will not have to wait any time on the station. In future the programme will commence at 8.15 and finish at 10.50PM. – An article featured in the Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic) Sat 16 Jan, 1915 (Page 6) titled BOX HILL PICTURES.

Note: Lucille Love, Girl of Mystery is a 1914 American action film serial directed by Francis Ford. It was the first serial by Universal. It was originally intended to be a short subject. The serial is now considered to be lost with only four episodes surviving. – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Hoyts Broadway Theatre on Dec 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm

Table Talk Newspaper (Melbourne, Vic ) Thu 7, Jul 1921 – Printed on Page 44 – “OUR THEATRE”. On the Crest of Camberwell Hill. Opened June 29, 1921 – The name of the new motion picture theatre at Camberwell, is expressive. (“OUR THEATRE”) It has been built by a company largely composed of local shareholders. The building which stands in Burke-road, Camberwell, just above the railway station. The name Boroondara, which formerly applied to the whole district, signified “out of the darkness into the light,” and there was a feeling in local circles that Camberwell had not emerged sufficiently out of the darkness. Now so far as the picture industry is concerned it is in a flood of light, and from its elevation “Our Theatre” is a conspicuous feature for a long distance around. The directors of the company are Messrs. \V. J. P. Davies (chairman), J.R. Drake, F. F. Fitzroy, and George Veal, the appointed manager being Mr. H. H. Heath. The task of preparing designs was entrusted to Mr. Chris. A. Cowper, architect, of Chancery House, Melbourne, that finally selected being of the French Renaissance period, with a little of the Adams period introduced to give life and lightness to the general effect.

The facade is splendidly illuminated with flood lights. The entrance hall gives direct access to the auditorium on either side of the operator’s cabin. At either end of the hall stairways run up to the foyer—which in this instance will be known as “our cabaret.” This extends the whole width of the building and is handsomely finished and furnished, with large arched windows and lit at night by shaded lights. It possesses a refreshment buffet and a piano, for it is to be used for dancing purposes when the pictures are finished of an evening. Mr. Frusher (formerly a lieutenant in the A.I.F.) is the lessee. Entrance to the balcony is gained through the foyer, and the interior of the building impresses one at once. There is a strong suggestion of the dramatic thea tre in the design. The balcony seats 850 persons and is brought well over the arena below, so that it appears exceptionally close to the stage. It is very roomy and comfortably seated with up-holstered tip-up seats. Altogether there is sitting accommodation for 1800 people in the theatre. The arched ceiling is very fine and is lit by six Perfecta electric lights of 4000 candle power each. The ornate mouldings of the front of the balcony have been carried around the interior walls, forming a waist-line, and the windows above are curtained and decorated so as to give the effect of stage boxes, which is further heightened by the presence of window boxes containing poppies and chrysanthemums, which give a note of color when illuminated by the electric light. Flanking the stage are two large trellis screens for ventilation purposes. The air is drawn from the rear and sprayed through the trellised vents, being ex tracted from above and below the balcony so that there is always a gentle but unobtrusive current of air in the theatre, the method being known ns the “whirl” system, installed by Messrs. Long and Denton. The proscenium, the electrical screen and lighting effects associated with it, which was installed by the Faulkesley Electric Co., is one of the latest innovations in picture theatres. The scene represented is one typical of Australian life, with cultivated farmland, mountain and bush. At the touch of a button in the manager’s office the back picture slides back on either side, disclosing the white curtain, the roadside fences fold over the orchestra, and at the same time the lights in the house are gradually dimmed—like the setting of the sun—so that the audience is not plunged into sudden darkness or subjected to eyestrain when the process Is reversed.

The contractor for the whole building was Mr. George Curry, of Auburn, the total cost being about £30,000. Our Theatre was thrown open for inspection on Tuesday evening to the share holders and invited guests, when there was a large gathering, the balcony being full to overflowing. The theatre was opened to the public on Wednesday evening, June 29, an excellent orchestra, under Mr. C. Taylor, providing the overture and instrumental music. Fox’s world gazette, Louise Lovely in “While the Devil Laughs,” “The World and the Woman,” featuring Geraldine Farrar, and the Sunshine comedy, “Pals and Petticoats,” were the principal items in the program.

NOTE: “The World and Its Woman” is a 1919 American silent drama film produced and distributed by Goldwyn Pictures and directed by Frank Lloyd. Opera singer Geraldine Farrar and her husband Lou Tellegen star. – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Cinema on Dec 15, 2018 at 5:17 pm

GREG LYNCH SAYS…SILENT MOVIES COME TO STUART, NT, AUSTRALIA – Stuart, wide open frontier town, a thousand long miles from Darwin, and Adelaide in the south. Looking for new opportunities, South Australians Joe and Eileen Kilgariff arrived in 1927 with their four children. Joe was a builder by trade with a family background in hotel-keeping and an entrepreneurial passion for showing movies. Previous experience as a projectionist in Barmera SA had told him that movies were a growth business, and to make sure he had brought all his equipment with him. Almost immediately he set up shop and began showing silent movies in an old Iron shed that he called a cinema, located just across the road from “The Stuart Arms”. Meanwhile, Eileen in the months that followed had been studying the comings and goings of the hotel, and a decision was made to take over the lease. History confirms that Leonard Malvern Frances, and Reginald Valentine Naughton transferred the lease of “The Stuart Arms” to Eileen Elizabeth Kilgariff on the 8th November 1927.The Stuart Alms was located on the corner of Todd and Parsons Streets. Joe began to renovate, upgrade and extend the building. In 1929 Steve Kilgariff joined his brother Joe and moved his family to Stuart in an attempt to escape a major slump in the South Australia building industry. The family arrived with great expectations on the new Ghan train. Bernie, Steve’s son was commandeered as a bell ringer to promote Joe’s cinema business. On a Saturday night sometime back in the late 20’s it probably sounded like this, “Tonight, Tonight, Electric Pictures here Tonight” as a young Bernie marched up and down Parsons Street ringing his bell and calling out on the top of his voice. In later life he was to tell stories of how this was his introduction to public speaking, and how he would anxiously wait for the weekly episode of the serial to arrive on the Ghan. Usually made up of 12 episodes, patrons took their serial very seriously. Joe Kilgariff pioneered the exhibition of silent moving pictures in the Alice, and It is assumed that this continued until the arrival of sound three years later. Eileen’s sister, Mona Minahan arrived in 1932 and began working in the family business at the Stuart Arms Hotel. Mona became the Territory’s first bar maid and went on to become a legendary Alice identity. For the Kilgariff family, following the trail of the iron rail to Stuart began the formation of a dynasty that would see them building their way across the length and breadth of the Northern Territory. This was in places as diverse as Daly River, Barrow Creek, Tennant Creek, Winnecke, Aileron and The Granites. It wasn’t until 1 August 1933 that the township and name of Stuart was officially changed and gazetted as Alice Springs.

NB: Contrary to legend there are no records of any cinema screenings at “The Stuart Arms”. There are no known photographs of Joe Kilgariff’s cinema, which was located opposite “The Stuart Arms”. The information in the opening paragraph comes from the published recollections & public interviews of Bernard Francis Kilgariff AM, who was a successful Australian politician and a founding member of the Country Liberal Party. Bernie Kilgariff died at the age of 86, on 13 April 2010 …

film commented about Grove Open Air Theatre on Nov 24, 2018 at 12:01 am

Greg Lynch says – THE GROVE OPEN AIR THEATRE – The Grove Picture Company was the instrument of the Trustees of Alexandra Park, locally known as The Grove and was set up to raise funds for improvement to Alexandra Park. At the time the group were running silent movies at a loss in the New Shire Hall Yarrawonga. A decision was made to investigate talking pictures. Finance was arranged and the necessary equipment was purchased. With sound the venture at The Shire hall became profitable, and in 1935 it was decided to construct a new open-air theatre to run during the summer months. This theatre was established on the site in Belmore Street, which is now Rotary Park and the car parking area in Hume Street. The theatre was named “The Grove Open Air Theatre, Yarrawonga”. Picture shows were run very successfully at this location, providing residents with quality entertainment, while at the same time raising funds for community benefits. For the bulk of the time the theatre was managed by Don Forbes. During the early 60’s, this writer has memories of Don making the journey to Melbourne to book film for The Grove. This was while I was the film booker at Universal Pictures. Don was regarded as an astute programmer. However by 1964 the arrival of the television juggernaut made the picture business unviable, so the Grove Picture Show was forced to close, regretfully forever –

film commented about Port Hedland Picture Gardens on Nov 8, 2018 at 1:25 am

TIME LINE – 1936 – THE OPENING OF THE PORT HEDLAND PICTURE GARDENS on Boxing night (1936) was the main attraction to the town during the holidays and drew a large number of country visitors. In cool open air gardens patrons sat in comfortable deck chairs and enjoyed Port Hedland’s first talkies. Judging by the enthusiasm shown by all, the talkies promise to be a great asset to the town – Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) – Wed 6 Jan 1937

1939 – CHILDREN’S XMAS ENTERTAINMENT at the Port Hedland Picture Gardens by the courtesy of Mr. C. Bayman. who placed bis Picture Garden at the disposal of the Parents and Citizens' ‘Association. The event of the year for the children took place on December 23. when Santa Claus paid his annual visit to Port Hedland. A gaily decorated tree was erected with scores of exciting parcels. About a hundred children were present who each received a gift and were then regaled with cool drinks. The children and general public then enjoyed an excellent program of pictures as the guests of Mr. Bayman. – Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) – Fri 6 Jan 1939

1939 – THE PICTURE GARDENS DEMOLISHED – A DISASTROUS HURRICANE STRUCK THE TOWNSHIP on January ll, 1939 causing damage estimated at over £75,000. No lives were lost as a result of the storm, however three houses and the railway Goods Shed were washed out to sea and a channel was cut by seawater from Airey Point to the back of the Post office. Nineteen kilometers of road and railway, including the causeway, were washed away. Several properties including a store, garage AND THE PICTURE GARDENS WERE DEMOLISHED BY THE WIND, and a number of houses were un-roofed. Western Mail Perth, WA : Thu 26 Jan 1939.

1941 – MR BAYMAN’S PICTURE GARDENS WERE A TOTAL WRECK and flying sheets of iron have done a great deal of damage. Many of the trees that have been struggling for existence since the blow two years ago are up rooted and in every case badly damaged. The rain was terrific, sixteen inches falling during the twenty-four hours, so against the damage done to roads and houses can be set a well replenished water supply. All the tanks overflowing for hours. – Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) – Thu 13 Mar 1941

1952 – FACE LIFT FOR THE PICTURE GARDENS – After what must have seemed a vain quest, the proprietors of the local picture gardens have finally obtained the necessary labour to give the gardens a “face lift.” Judging by the first day’s labour the gardens will soon be about the brightest spot in the town – Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA) – Thus 8 May 1952 – Contributed by Greg Lynch –

film commented about Port Hedland Picture Gardens on Oct 26, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Greg Lynch Says – THE PORT HEDLAND PICTURE GARDENS – Charles Bayman built the Port Hedland Picture Gardens in 1936 – While he was the exhibitor, no child was charged admission. Charlie built the original screen out of timber and sheet iron. A six-foot corrugated iron fence encased the area. In 1946 (because of severe weather conditions) Charlie was forced to build a concrete screen and reinforced fencing, in an effort to withstood the cyclones that frequented the area. In 1950 Fred Hulland arrived with his wife, Port Hedland-born Irene Crameri, and purchased the Picture Gardens from Charlie Bayman. That year Jack and Joyce Glass came to work for the Hulls. Movies were shown every Wednesday & Saturday. In an effort to improve presentation, Fred designed a trumpet-shaped speaker box which distributed a wider frequency sound. In 1957 the Hulls retired to the Perth area. Mr & Mrs Glass operated the Picture gardens for three years. In 1960 Jack & Joyce Glass purchased the Gardens. As the iron ore development grew. films were screened on a nightly basis. Every year the Glass family organised a Christmas Party for the local children. In 1986 because of competing factors, such as rental video & the drive in theatre, the Picture Gardens were forced to close their doors: There were reported sporadic summer screenings during the 90’s, and a special screening was held on 18th October 1996, featuring the John Wayne epic “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" This was to celebrate 100 years of Port Hedland. The site, sadly has since been developed into a car park …

film commented about Starline Drive-In on Aug 15, 2018 at 1:01 am

Greg Lynch says : Alice Springs is a town almost dead center of Australia. Hot with very little rain it was the ideal spot to build a drive in theatre. To tell the story of The Pioneer Drive In Theatre one has to relate the legend of Snow Kenna, Picture Show Man. Leslie Joseph (Snow) Kenna began showing silent movies in the old Welfare Hall during 1934 together with Bill Burton. This continued until well known business identity Ly Underdown recognizing the possibility of this modern entertainment erected his Capitol Open Air Theatre, into which he installed Snow Kenna, Bill Burton and their projection plant. Later Bill Burton was to move on to Tennant Creek and open his own theatre. In 1939 Snow decided to build his own theatre. By now his bank balance was such that he was able to purchase a block of land in Parsons Street, where he was to fulfill the life long dream of running his own cinema. Snow named it “ The Pioneer Open Air Theatre.” The new theatre opened to excellent box office in 1942. Then in 28th January 1965, and with much foresight, Snow opened the Pioneer Drive In Theatre with the Warner Bros production of “The Sundowners”. The drive in theatre was located on a large block south of town on the Stuart Hwy. This had the unfortunate result of reducing attendance’s at his Pioneer open air, as picture goers changed their habits in favor of watching movies in the family car. Seven months after the opening of the drive in, Snow Kenna dies at the age of 68 (husband of Rose & father of John), leaving his family to carry on. In 1974 there was a name change from Pioneer to the Starline Drive In. Come 1983 and Rose Kenna sells both theatres to Greater Union Theatres, who run the open air till 1984, and the drive-in until 1988. On July 15, 2013, David Pearce wrote in The Film Journal retrospectively “On Sunday, Nov. 28, 1988, only two cars turned up for a screening of the double bill “Masquerade” and “A New Life”. The operator sent the two cars home, locked up the site, and closed the drive-in. Greater Union left the theatre as they found it, complete with projection plant rusting in the desert air. That would appear to have been the end of the story, but a local lobby group formed, Citizens for Outdoor Cinema in Alice Springs. They wanted the cinema to re-open. By the year 2000, they had managed to get the property shortlisted for a heritage order and finally earned one in 2005. What was on their side was the screen. This was a rare example of a white painted concrete screen for a drive-in. As weeds grew through the original parking area, the screen remained in pretty good condition. In 2011, the site was delisted as a heritage site and a developer announced plans to demolish the screen. The Citizens for Outdoor Cinema were told that they would have to raise A$60,000 to remove and relocate the old concrete screen. That never happened and in June 2013 (Queens Birthday Weekend) almost 25 years after the last screening, the Pioneer Drive-In finally died as the screen crashed down.“ end quote -The Pioneer Drive-In screen had been the last one standing in the Northern Territory – Leslie Joseph (Snow) Kenna, dedication – He was one of the financiers of the Alice Springs Memorial Club and was a member of the Central Australian Racing Club committee. A park is dedicated to the memory of Snow Kenna at the end of the footbridge where he originally showed films in the old Welfare Hall – Snow Kenna, Picture Show Man. This writer is indebted to local Tennant Creek identity & historian, Pam Hodges for her contribution to this article – Go to – for Tennant Creekers. Acknowledgement: David Pearce of "The Film Journal” –

film commented about Liberty Theatre on May 11, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Reference dickneeds111 comment regarding the Liberty Theatre season for “To Sir With Love”– Greg Lynch says – As a comparison the Odeon Theatre in Bourke St, Melbourne ran “To Sir With Love” from Jan 5, 1968 to Sept 26,1968 – from memory it was locked in by the powers that be for a 2 week season, and then became a real surprise sleeper, running 9 months in total..It’s hard to know exactly how long this title ran at The Liberty, (with what little records that are available) “BUT” it would have been big. Also there is the possibility that the season was extended with limited screenings. Your guess, or does this mean a visit to the records office of the West Australian Newspaper??… “LOVE THIS BUSINESS”

film commented about Old Welfare Hall on May 10, 2018 at 8:55 pm

To answer David Coppocks questions regarding the site of The Welfare Hall & usage – Greg Lynch says: – The Northern Territory was isolated by distance. Quite simply : “The Welfare hall was built for the Welfare of the community”, it was a place for social meetings, with sporting venues nearby. Behind the Welfare Hall, as featured in the panorama picture is the Todd River. Access is usually by formed tracks – The Mail (Adelaide), SA : Saturday 25 April 1936 writes: – “Recreation Reserve For Alice Springs” – Six years ago (1930) a number of Alice Springs citizens formed a welfare association to build a hall and provide a sports grounds for the people. About £800 has been raised in that period, and the association has erected a hall, two tennis courts, and cricket grounds. A difficulty has been that the association has had no fixed tenure of the land or any legal ownership of it. but that has now been remedied to some extent by the Commonwealth Government. The area has been gazetted as a recreation reserve, but the Minister must appoint the trustees. At a public meeting on April 17 the following were recommended for appointment:— Rev. H. Griffiths (Methodist Inland Missioner), Messrs. D. P. Adamson – Postmaster G. Glass (Storekeeper). B. N. Webb – (Solicitor), and P. Windle (Garage proprietor). It has been suggested that the Alice Springs branch of the Returned Soldiers' League, which has no hall of its own, should use the underneath portion of the hall for club rooms…..Acknowledgement Pam Hodges Tennant Creek Historian

film commented about Old Welfare Hall on May 9, 2018 at 8:18 am

David Coppock asks…Is the Welfare Hall still there? – Charlie Poole has posted: “The Welfare hall was moved to Hartley Street in 1939, and set up on the block where the Overlanders Steakhouse currently sits. It was set up without the stilts and operated as a General Store by Akbar Khan who moved from Broken Hill” – The building no longer operates as a hall – if it exists? –

film commented about Old Welfare Hall on May 8, 2018 at 11:56 pm

Historic Meeting at The Welfare Hall in 1937 DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHERN TERRITORY. ALICE SPRINGS A representative gathering in the Welfare Hall, Alice Springs, on Friday night April 30, heard Mr. Mac Alister Blain, Member for the Northern Territory of what has become known as “The Payne Commission”. Mr. Blain informed his audience that Messrs W. L. Payne (chairman), W. M. McLean (Secretary) and J. W. Fletcher hoped to be able to lay down a plan of campaign to be followed in the economical development of the Northern Territory for the next twenty-five or thirty years. Whilst the main purpose of the committee was to give particular attention to pastoral problems and transport difficulties. tbe Speaker pointed out that certain aspects of mineral production will be considered….Townsville Daily Bulletin, Qld – Mon 10 May 1937 –

film commented about Old Welfare Hall on May 8, 2018 at 11:54 pm

“The Welfare Hall”, Alice Springs NT is the building standing on stilts on the far left – Photo (1932) courtesy of J. A. Poole – GREG LYNCH SAYS – : Up till 1935 the social life of Alice Springs was confined to an occasional dance and a concert, everybody attended, and to our unsophisticated minds they were just the thing. Then one day in rolled an old car with two men and equipment to modernize our way back town. Snow Kenna and Bill Burton, the ‘movie men’ had hit the town. They began showing silent movies in the old Welfare Hall. On Thurs, 24 Oct 1935 News Adelaide reported: “Alice Springs is now to have talking pictures, silent films have been shown here for some months, and now the proprietor’s of the Welfare Hall have made arrangements for sound installation”. Well known business identity Ly Underdown saw the possibility of this modern entertainment and erected his “Capitol Open Air Theatre”, into which he installed Snow and his projection plant. Snow ceased screening at “The Welfare Hall” sometime during 1936, while Bill Burton moved on to Tennant Creek to open a show there. Charlie Poole has posted: – “The hall was moved to Hartley Street in 1939, and set up on the block where the Overlanders Steakhouse currently sits. It was set up without the stilts and operated as a General Store by Akbar Khan who moved from Broken Hill” – In 1939 Snow decided to build his own theatre, The Pioneer (Walk In) Open Air Theatre in Parsons Street, with the debut screening in 1942. Neither Snow or Bill could have been aware of the contribution they were to make over the ensuing decades as they pioneered cinema in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. Come 1965 and with much foresight, Snow opened the Pioneer Drive-In Theatre, this had the unfortunate result of reducing attendance’s at the Pioneer Walk-In, as picture goers rapidly changed their habits in favor of watching movies in the family car. Seven months after the opening of the drive-in Snow Kenna died, leaving his family to carry on. In 1983 the Kenna family sold both theatres to Greater Union Theatres, who ran the walk-in till 1984, and the drive-in until 1987. This writer is indebted to local Tennant Creek identity & historian, Pam Hodges for her contribution to the history of The Welfare Hall. – Go to Pam Hodges for Tennant Creekers. – Acknowledgements : J. A . Poole / Shane Leanord for the restoration of the J. A. Poole photo / Charlie Poole / Peter Bassett / Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs, NT.

film commented about Warrego Drive-In on Apr 27, 2018 at 12:51 am

Greg Lynch says – “The Warrego Drive In Theatre” operated between 1979/1984. – In 1979 Bob Burton (owner of The Tennant Drive In) purchased an open-air walk-in theatre built by Jim Hunt on the Warrego mine site. The Warrego Mine (copper-bismuth-gold) is located just off Warrego Road in the centre of the Northern Territory, situated about 840km south-southeast of Darwin). Jim Hunt had built an open-air walk-in theatre on the mine site screening one night a week, but was struggling to make it pay because of the transport costs in freighting film. Bob Burton moved in and developed a 60 car drive-in theatre with individual car window speakers, plus a covered seated area. When able costs were saved by switching films between Tennant Creek and Warrego. As part of the deal Jim Hunt stayed on as projectionist (Fred McKinley later replaced him). The Warrego Drive In was equipped with Cummings and Wilson projectors (C&W), Raycophone (model CP10) soundheads with Westrex carbon-arc lamphouses. Ann Wilson recently published – “Great picture theatre at Warrego. The speakers were originally on the side of the projection box and you could hear most of the movie throughout Warrego. Great news when we actually got the speakers for the cars installed. Sorry to say I was one of the people that forgot to put the speaker back and ripped it out. The night the projection box caught fire was catastrophic, we were out of movies for a few weeks”. During the early 80’s video stores opened nearby in Tennant Creek, this along with television caused a major drop in the available picture going public. The Warrego Drive-In closed in 1984. Video Tape, Television and a changing social environment had reduced attendances dramatically … Bob sold up, along with his drive in theatre at Tennant Creek. (the era had finished and the screens were dark) and he eventually moved to Darwin. The Warrego mine commenced in the late 1950’s and operated as a mine until late 1989. – This writer is indebted to local Tennant Creek identity & historian, Pam Hodges for her contribution to the history of “The Warrego Drive In Theatre” – Visit Pam Hodges C/–

film commented about Ascot Theatre and Gardens on Apr 26, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Greg Lynch SAYS – David Coppock asks – Would the demolition of the theatre building have been because of the widening of Great Eastern Highway after the roadworks…Answer: The new highway has taken part of the car park that existed previously in front of the original building..The theatre building has gone forever and has been replaced with a new office building –

film commented about Capitol Theatre on Apr 23, 2018 at 8:57 pm

The Centralian Advocate Fri 12 Jun 1953, reports “£2,000 CAPITOL THEATRE FIRE” – The projection room at “The Capitol Theatre” was gutted by fire on Wednesday afternoon and the projector and other equipment was ruined. It is estimated that more than £2,000 worth of damage was done before the brigade had the fierce blaze under control