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Some of the best shorts and        Another regular was Qua Qua,in  Victorian-era architecture and a Bugs
          cartoons returned time and again.  which a French horn-honking unicyclist  Bunny cartoon as supports; a good
          Greater Union screened films and  entertains the rich in Saint Tropez.   example of the eclectic mix of film.
          shorts from Universal, Paramount,    Blowing Out caught windsurfers at  During this period Hoyts exhibited
          MGM, Disney and BEF - later Greater  sunset in a huge swell that catapulted  films from Fox, Columbia, United
          Union Film Distributors.          them metres into the air.          Artists and Hoyts Distribution.
            Almost every MGM show had a        The Absent Minded Waiter launched  It seemed almost every Columbia
          Tom and Jerry and the Academy Award  Steve Martin’s career and it made more  feature was supported by the Three
          winners in this series returned often.   returns than Nellie Melba.   Stooges. They ran old Curly’s from the
            Disney had the best line-up of     Even new travelogues appeared; A  30s and 40s along with later Shemp
          shorts and cartoons. Audiences would  Toast To Melbourne had several seasons  Howard’s from the 50s up to the last
          thrill when Goofy or Donald Duck hit  at the Rapallo. The Palace Of Dreams  with Joe Besser, often teamed with a
          the screen. Disney’s True-Life    was an interesting short on the history  Mr. Magoo cartoon.
          Adventures in Technicolour seemed  of the GU flagship, the State Sydney.   Columbia, more than most, relied
          ageless, even though some of them                                    on re-issues during this era. Even the
          dated from the 1950s.                                                sci-fi blockbuster Ghostbusters (1984)
            New Disney shorts of this era were                                 was supported by a 1930s Three
          also excellent and often introduced a                                Stooges two-reeler.
          new film-maker. The feature Splash                                      Fox had the Mighty Hero cartoons,
          was upstaged by the brilliant stop-                                  yet I can’t remember any Mighty
          frame animated short Vincent, directed                               Mouse in later years. Fox would also
          by a young Tim Burton and narrated by                                on occasion dig up a classic
          Vincent Price.                                                       CinemaScope title.
            Some shorts were sourced from                                         United Artists probably had the best
          Film Australia, Pyramid Films and                                    late-era cartoons: the Pink Panther, The
          other independents, and sometimes                                    Inspector, Hoot Klute and Tijuana
          blown-up from 16mm to 35mm for                                       Toads.
          theatrical release. The major                                           Later shorts from these distributors
          distributors bought up this product, as it                           varied in quality, but they could always
          was rarely supplied from their own                                   be relied on for a raid of their vaults.
                                                                                  Village had the Warner Bros’
            Standouts included Floating Free -                                 cartoons and these were always
          a slow motion masterpiece of a Frisbee                               favourites. As the years went by, there
          competition in which greyhounds catch                                were fewer good quality prints of the
          frisbees in their mouths mid-air in an                               classics like 1958 Oscar winner
          American Football Stadium!                                           Knightly Knight Bugs or Robin Hood
                                            The Three Stooges were not everyone’s  Daffy. It meant that the best played
                                            cup of tea, but Columbia milked the series  with greater frequency, and often
                                            for all it was worth.              supported Australian featurettes that
                                                                               were a Roadshow specialty. Their logo
                                               The Monty Python crew made many
                                                                               at the time was Roadshow - The
                                            shorts. One screened before the
                                                                               Australian Company.
                                            Python’s The Meaning Of Life even
                                            broke into the feature!               In 1984, with the VCR reaching
                                                                               critical mass, Hoyts and Village
                                               Musical shorts became popular; the
                                                                               decided to drop shorts. City theatres
                                            70mm season of Pink Floyd The Wall,
                                                                               went from running four sessions per
                                            was supported by The Who in a short
                                                                               day to six, and the suburbans went from
                                            about the making of their album Face
                                                                               one to two. With the stroke of a pen,
                                            Dances. A short featuring Dire Straits
                                                                               shorts were rarely seen again at Hoyts
                                            made many returns to the Russell. It
                                                                               or Village.
                                            was a pity that these rock group shorts
                                            often played in mono sound.           Greater Union watched public
                                                                               reaction, then began to remove shorts
                                               Cinema 6 had possibly the best
                                                                               from their programs. By the end of the
                                            sound in Australia (Dolby CP200 six-
                                                                               1980’s, hardly a theatre in Australia
                                            channel stereo) but in some others the
                                                                               was booking shorts. Executives
                                            sound was basic.
                                                                               commented that the “boring old shorts”
                                               Greater Union sometimes ran
                                                                               had had their day.
                                            Warner Bros. product instead of it going
                                                                                  Ten years on Disney and Warner
                                            to Village. This occurred with 70mm
                                                                               Bros. resurrected classic cartoons on
                                            films like Gremlins and Greystoke: The
                                                                               selected features and both produced
                                            Legend Of Tarzan Lord of the Apes or
                                                                               several new cartoons at this time.
                                            revivals like Mad Max 2. Mad Max 2 in
                                            fact had an interesting short on local
                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2006     7
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