Hoyts Rialto Kew 218 High Street, Melbourne, VIC - Final days 1982

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The installation of CinemaScope at The Rialto Theatre Kew, Victoria Australia

Hoyts Rialto Kew

Melbourne, AU

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Hoyts Rialto Kew  218 High Street, Melbourne, VIC - Final days 1982

The observations, and opinion of a “Picture Show Man”

In the 1950/60’s, Melbourne came to resemble German cities after the Allied Forces bombing, as “Whelan The Wrecker” went about his business changing the Melbourne skyline. His fame was such a local Rock ‘n’ Roll Band of the time took on his name and became “Whelan & The Wreckers”, recording the title song from the Fox movie “Hound Dog Man” on the iconic Melbourne, Planet Record Label – Here is a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdkLTxC_JNM – Whelan & His Wreckers tore down a lot of the old OZ, and it’s ironic that “Hound Dog Man” starring Fabian, and filmed in CinemaScope, played “The Rialto” prior to it’s closure. Here on this page is a photo supplied, courtesy of the “Kew History Group”, featuring the last days and moments of the “The Rialto Theatre” The ominous sign in the upstairs window reads “Whelan The Wrecker is Here”

After a lifetime in the Cinema / Motion Picture industry I feel qualified to write this next paragraph of opinion..I believe there was a case for the preservation of “The Rialto” in the form of a heritage listing. By the time of it’s closure the “Cinema Industry” had stabilized, and it could be argued that it’s unique, part stadium design, along with it’s capacity and large foyer was more than suitable for twinning. An intimate cinema could have been housed in the upstairs section of the building without affecting the running of the main room. The projection booth was already located on the ground floor. “The Rialto Theatre” was the heart of the community. During it’s period of operation, more people had been to “The Rialto” than any other building In Kew. Solid and well built in the old style, “The Rialto” had stood in High Street for 65 years. The size of “The Rialto” made it suitable for live performances & the screening of movies. Looking back into history “The Rialto” was the center of many heritage events. It’s the place where (local resident) Robert Menzies during the 2nd world war, addressed and rallied the nation to turn – away crowds. It’s the place where the Anzac’s gathered on numerous occasions.

Yes there were countless reasons for considering a heritage listing. I look back with warm appreciation to the Golden Era, and know we have lost something very special with the passing of our “Picture Palaces”, and wonder what might have been. Kew is a poorer place without it. – Contributed by GREG LYNCH –

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