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               AT THE PICTURES

                                         14-15 MAY 2005

            The location was specific, and the  cleaning up – were well covered.  Plaza was alive again as a cinema,
          photographs were of the theatres of  An illuminated map pin-pointed  dedicated to explaining aspects of the
          Essendon and surrounds, but the event  each cinema location in the suburb. If  history of cinema.
          was equally a re-creation of going to  Essendon and surrounds were typical of  Projectionist Ross King, correctly
          the pictures in any suburb. Tucked in a  the rest of metropolitan Melbourne, the  attired in his dust-coat, ran selections of
          quiet street facing the Essendon railway  number of film venues down the years  newsreels and trailers on his Australian-
          station, and with a tram stop just  has been astonishing. First came the  made 35mm C&W (Cummings and
          behind the theatre, the former Hoyts  open-air picture gardens, followed by  Wilson) projector, with Raycophone
          Plaza, now the Ukrainian Hall, was a  the move indoors to local halls from  sound head. Old films are often the
          reminder of the once important    about 1910, which later gave way to the  trigger for inconsequential but
          relationship between public transport  purpose-built theatres. Display boards  permanent memories.  At one session,
          and a theatre.                    in the centre of the room provided  when the trailer for The Mole People
            Most cinemas had an island ticket  photos and concise histories of each of  flashed the words ‘Starring John Agar’
          box and at the Plaza Edweena Cook, in  the main venues - the Moonee, Moonee  on to the screen, a whisper went
          traditional white blouse and maroon  Ponds, the Southern Cross (later the  around, “Wasn’t he married to Shirley
          skirt, was the introduction to a vanished  Regal), Circle and Plaza theatres of  Temple?”
          time. Taking turns as doormen and  Essendon, the Ascot and Waratah in   Members pitched in to display
          ushers, Rod Cook, John Brown, Brian  Ascot Vale and later additions, the  treasured items. Ever wanted to see for
          Hunt and Peter Wolfenden looked natty  Essendon and Maribyrnong      yourself how an anamorphic lens
          in their Hoyts style maroon jackets and  Drive-Ins.                  expands a ‘squeezed’ image to
          black trousers.                      Films and illustrated talks were  CinemaScope proportions? Well, there
            The auditorium of a theatre is a  scheduled at regular times in a  it was, set above a strip of film for
          large space to fill with exhibits, but  temporary theatre set under the balcony,  exactly that purpose. Nearby was the
          three months of dedicated work by Rod  complete with lounge chairs. In these  most comprehensive collection of film
          and Edweena Cook, Ross King and   sessions Peter Wolfenden demonstrated  gauges ever likely to be seen in one
          Peter Wolfenden ensured that two days  the trick imagery possible with the  place: 8mm, 9.5mm, 16 mm, 17.5mm,
          of inspections were needed to do the  Magic Lantern, while David Kilderry  22mm, 28 mm and upwards; antique
          collection justice. And CATHS     gave a slide-show on the history of  projectors and a set of 1940s glass
          members pitched in heartily to ensure  drive-in theatres in Victoria, including  slides - Coming Attractions – of
          that the complementary, and often  some examples from overseas. Cinema  evocative titles such as Alfred
          unnoticed roles - in refreshments,  slides were shown in a continuous loop  Hitchcock’s Suspicion, Shadow of a
          ambassadors, book sales, security and  on the wall above the exit doors. The  Doubt and Spellbound, all in their bold,

          Image top: The organisers - Peter Wolfenden, Edweena Cook, Ross King and Rod Cook. Edweena made the traditional Hoyts outfits.

                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2005     7
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