Page 8 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
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50.  The Star Newsreel Theatrette                    by Edward Lansdowne & Brian Miller

              The Star was opened by Mr. Tom  & Mrs.  Billie Virgona of Sydney,  during  February 1951  in the basement of
              Carlow House at 34 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Mr. Virgona was an experienced Showman and Managing
             Director of the Sydney Globe and World Newsreel Theatrettes, two of the five in that City.  His father and family
             operated the two Orpheums, one in North Sydney, and built and opened the other, the now celebrated property
             at Cremorne. Later interests were the suburban Star cinemas at Panania,  Padstow and Riverwood and  the
             Ascot, a first-run city house, in  Pitt Street.

             The area the Star occupied was previously the Carlow Coffee Lounge and a false wooden floor, sloping at the
              rear was laid over the concrete sub-floor. An  unusual aspect was that the cinema opened with rear screen
             projection. The projection and rewind  rooms were spacious and two "standard" projector heads were angled
              upwards at about 45 degrees, showing through a large glass window to a translucent plastic screen.  It was
             necessary to have a certain amount of waste space between the bio-box window and the rear of the screen and
             this became a storage area.

             The screen and masking were kept as high as possible to avoid the audience staring into the hot-spot on the
             screen created by the lenses. The RCA sound heads were reversed and films were threaded emulsion side out
             to complete the back-to-front image. On the whole it was reasonably effective considering the premises were
             never intended as a cinema. The building supplied forced-air ventilation, not very warm in winter or very cool
             in heat-waves. Air conditioning was still rather rare in that era. Toilets on the first floor reached by a long walk
             upstairs were a disadvantage.

             After several years it was decided to build a conventional and somewhat smaller bio-box at the rear of the stalls
             on the right-hand side. Access was through the Manager's office with an emergency exit into the auditorium.
             Although the projection beam was a side-throw, distortion was almost unnoticeable in such a relatively short
             distance. By demolishing the original bio-box and moving the screen almost to the back wall, seating capacity
             of 238 was retained and the auditorium became L-shaped.

             Not all  film  distributors were  prepared  to  supply programs,  however Paramount news  and  shorts,  Warner
             Brothers, Columbia and RKO radio pictures kept the business going. Columbia had a lot of unreleased 'Three
             Stooges' comedies and these built up a regular following among those who liked basic slapstick humour. At
             least there was no switching of films with  other theatres.  Programs ran  around eighty minutes without any
             advertising breaks which was much better value than sixty minutes elsewhere.
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