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intention of the management to screen  “On the large pillar outside were the
                                            programmes of a quality to draw     show-cards of present and future
                                            households of patrons nightly, and Sunday  attractions. Beyond the glass barrier of
                                            evenings as well, not only from both local  the front doors, three or four shallow
                                            suburbs, but neighbouring districts also.   steps brought you to the first level of
                                               The Company investment of a very  the foyer. It had pale green walls and
                                            large sum of money in its undertaking is  was on two levels, with wide, curved
                                            most eloquent proof that the enterprising  steps between each. The floor was
                                            policy of the management is to be   swirls of cream, pale pink and pale
                                            enduring. And that policy is this, the best  green terrazo (I can still see the shiny
                                            picture entertainment for South Melbourne  specks in it). My cousin and I would
                                            and Port Melbourne.                 pretend we were Doris Day and Gene
                                               The theatre was opened on Saturday  Nelson and dance across the foyer. To
                                            evening when the commodious building  us it was part of those wonderful sets
                                            was filled with people who were very  from the musicals.
                                            favourably impressed with its handsome  “The ticket box was in the centre of
                                            exterior and interior and the comfortable  the back wall of the foyer and the
                                            furnishings, including luxurious chairs  manager’s office was behind it. The
                                            throughout, while it was seen the   staircase to the circle was on the right
                                            ventilation was on the latest scientific  of the ticket window. Midway where
                                            lines, ensuring pleasantly cool conditions  the stairs turned was an arched window
                                            in the summer season.   Nearly all the  (which can be seen in the drawing.)
                                            Port Melbourne councillors and the     The carpeting across the upstairs
                                            municipal officers had accepted the  foyer and down the stairs was thick, red
                                            company’s invitation to attend the  plush with big gold swirls on it. When I
                                            inaugural performance. In declaring the  went into the theatre I always looked
                                            theatre open the Mayor of Port Melbourne  up, fascinated by the interesting effects
                                            Cr. P.F. Murphy complimented the    seen only in theatres.
                                            company on its enterprise and wished it  “At the Eclipse the ceiling was a
                                            every success.                      little stepped, with lines and ridges. The
                                               The directors expressed great    plaster ‘stripes’ continued along the
                                            pleasure at having secured the service of  walls. I remember the curtains as red,
                                            Mr. O’Neil as manager. He is a gentleman  possibly velvet. On the left hand side
                                            with very high qualifications for the  next to the stage was a piano, which
                                            position.                           eventually disappeared. The seats were
                                               A very attractive picture program was  dark blue leather, changed twice in my
                                            screened to the musical accompaniment  time. The first change was from a
                                            of an excellent orchestra.          heavy furnishing material. When
                                               On Sunday evening the screenings will  Cinemascope came, large sound boxes,
                                            begin at 7.30.                      with a fancy scroll pattern, were fitted
                                                                                to the walls.”
                                               “Mother And The Kids”
                                                                                   The fit-out to wide-screen in Hoyts
                                               By 7.30 a large assemblage had
                                                                                suburban theatres was timed according
                                            gathered outside the building which has
                                                                                to a long established order : first week
                                            accommodation for over 1800 persons.
                                                                                out from city, second week out, etc.
                                            Police Sergeant Mooney took charge of
                                                                                The Eclipse programs were second
                                            the movable grille at the main entrance
                                                                                week out from city, a sequence shared
                                            for regulating the inflow of people. The
           Eclipse Picture Theatre          sergeant insisted on women carrying  with about six other theatres. The
                                                                                technical team apparently couldn’t
                                            babies entering the building first, for the
          Opening of Large Modern Building  purpose of getting them out of the crush  complete the job in time, because the
                                                                                Eclipse missed out on the Thursday
           Commodious, Cool, Comfortable    and out of the possibility of them being
                                            hurt. Incidentally these matrons obtained  start for CinemaScope. Instead, it
                Big Screen Attractions      the best seats in various parts of the  showed three Fox revivals until
                                                                                Saturday, then began The Robe on the
            Erected at a cost of £34,000 the  house for which they purchased tickets
          Eclipse Company’s large modern picture  inside the grille.            Monday night. Either there had been a
                                                                                glitch, or management knew that sword
          theatre, at the corner of Crockford St and  Advertisement (left) and the report of
                                                                                and sandal epics with a biblical overlay,
          Pickles St Port Melbourne will    the opening from The Record, 1
                                                                                did not play well in Port.
          accommodate over 1,800 people in the  November 1924
                                                                                   “The first CinemaScope picture I
          greatest comfort. The theatre is just over
                                                                                saw there was The Robe. I also saw
          the South Melbourne boundary, it is the
                                                                                There’s No Business Like Show
                                                                                Business. They both included a break
                                                                                for interval. What a novelty!
          16  2004 CINEMARECORD
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