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                 ProJife Of 5\ Patron                           Cinema :J{istory N077

                                                               MURRUMBEENA PUBIC HALL  Argosy/Capri!Rex:
                   FRANK VANSTRATEN OAM
                                                                In 1924 we came to live in Murrumbeena, our local church
          Frank Van Straten inherited his passion for the performing   was the Methodist,  this happened to be right next door to the
          arts from his parents. His father,  Leon, was a professional   Public Hall, so my memories of  the hall are very easy  to
          musician.  Frank starred  collecting  books,  recordings  and   remember.
          theatrical memorabilia in his early teens.           My first recollections of activity in the hall was of dances
                                                               which were held once a  week, and musical plays,  such as
          After a career in advertising, marketing and record distribu-  ''NO NO NANETTE""MAID OF THE MOUNTAINS", etc
          tion, Frank joined the Victorian Arts Centre as archivist of   these productions were top drawer,as they were produced by
          the newly-established Performing Arts Museum. He became   professionals.
          its  director  in  1984.  The  Museum  now  has  the  largest
          collection of theatrical memorabilia  in Australia and is  of   The hall was very well suited to these shows, as the dimen-
          world significance. Among the exhibitions presented at the   sions would have been approximately I 00' to the stage and
          Museum during Frank's time there were: Bourke Street On   60 odd feet wide.
          Saturday Night, 1983; Her Majesty's Theatre 50th Birthday   It had an excellent stage, and a good sized orchestra pit, plus
          Celebration,  1984; Pin-Up,  1984; The Great Days of Aus-  dressing rooms. The construction was of brick, and included
          tralian  Vaudeville,  1985;  Thanks  For  Listening  (Radio],   was a generous projection room.
          1986;  Silent  Smiles  [Silent  Films],  1987;  The Mo  show   The year was 1935 when Talkies arrived at the ball. I recall
          1988; Hooray For Hollywood!  [Movie Posters], 1989; En-  the  day so well, it was a Friday when the projectors were
          tertaining  Melbourne,  1992;  Stars  In  Your  Eyes,  Movie   hauled up in the box, to be ready for the first night show, all
          Stills], 1991. Frank retired as director in  1993. Working on   other  equipment  being  in  place,  the  show  for  that  first
          a  freelance basis,  Frank curated  the Performing  Arts  Mu-  screening was "VIVA VILLA"
          seum's 1996 exhibition celebrating the history of the Tivoli
          Theatre.                                             The sign  outside the projection box simply said,
          Frank has  presented ABC Radio's  weekly Nostalgia Pro-  It didn't take me long to get friendly with the owner whose
          gramme  since  1986.  He provides  Programme notes  for  a   name was Les Crossling, he and his wife ran the show, she
          wide  variety  of theatrical  and  other presentations.  These   in  the  ticket  box  and  Les  doing  the  projection  with  an
          have  included  the  Victorian  Arts  Centre's  1 00  Years  of   assistant, as that was the requirement in those days of nitrate
          Cinema  Series,  1995,  and  The  Regent  Gala Re-opening   film.  I used to help with the rewinding, I always remember
          Concert  in  1996. His first  book, National  Treasure  - The   we never kept the film on the spools when it came off the
          Story  of Gertrude  Johnson and the National Theatre,  was   machines,  we  wound  it  off on to  a  stripping  plate  then
          published by Victoria Press in 1994. His most recent book   placed  it back in its can, these were on 1000' spools, which
          is The Regent Theatre: Melbourne's Palace of Dreams. This   meant 11  minutes running time, we really moved in those
          was  published  by  ELM  to  mark  the  re-opening  of the   days,  hand feeding  arcs,  threading  the  next machine  and
          beloved Collins  Street landmark.  Frank recorded a talking   rewinding, the rewind room was always separate.
          book version of this in 1997. He is currently working on a
         major history of the Tivoli Circuit                   The  projectors  we  used  had  come  from  the  "CAPITOL
                                                               THEATRE" Melbourne and were a pair of SIMPLEX with
         Frank is a member of the board of the National Theatre, the   RA  YCOPHONE sound heads, the two machines were sit-
         executive  of the  Green  Room  Awards  Association,  the   ting on about 1" cork so as to deaden any vibration through
         Grainger  Museum  advisory  committee  and  the  Victoria   the floor.
         Theatres Trust. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of   There were two non-sync turntables, with a pair of oil filled
         Australia in the 1999 Australia Day Honours.          Western  Electric  pick-ups,  and  were  they  heavy,  it's  a
                                                               wonder the records lasted as long as they did, I can under-
           •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••     stand  the  weight  when  used  on the  Vitaphone  16"  discs,
                                                               because once they were in the groove they would stand up to
                                                               a fair amount of VIbration.
                      NO GRA/J1f                               At the stage end was the usual  exponential hom with a  6'
                        ..vo FVZZ/tVESS                        mouth and driver unit at the throat end, rear of the screen
                                                               covered in underfelt to reduce any bounce off the rear wall.
                           lfiO P/STOJI?T/ON                   Seats were the early tip-up type, and  mounted on battens so
                       VJ~I!Vt$!QN                             as they could be moved to the side for dances.

                                                               The projection end wall  as was the custom had underfelt
                                                               over it  to stop reverberation.

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