Page 13 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 13

The Regent South Yarra (above and opposite page, top left), the prototype for a family of theatres.
          The exterior is c.1925, pre neon sign. All South Yarra pics are from the Brian Pearson Collection.

          It was a very grand theatre.                                         Presentation was very important
            Oh yes, any Regent built for Hoyts  “… it’s a feeling I            wasn’t it?
          was a grand theatre. And talking about                                  Well, it was instilled in you. Put
          grand theatres, a vacancy came up at the  think a lot of good        yourself in the place of someone sitting
          Grand in Coburg and I was sent there as                              in the theatre. You would always time
          an assistant projectionist. I walked into  projectionists have,      your records to finish as the lights
          this tiny little pokey room that could                               dimmed - the old 78s they were in
          hardly fit a projector, let alone a                                  those days - and go from there. Not like
          projectionist and an assistant, and there  that they’ve              at the Cinema Richmond when I was a
          were these two drive gears sitting on top                            boy. Well, the Cinema was front stalls
          of RCA sound heads. I’d never seen  entertained a lot of             for sixpence of a Friday night and
          Powers projectors, but you could always                              Saturday afternoon to see the serials,
          recognize a projectionist who had   people with their                and when the show started everything
          worked with them for quite a while,                                  would just go black and there was a
          because they always had one finger                                   picture there in front of you - there
          missing. Those projectors were notorious  skills.”                   were no dimmers.
          for catching fingers in the gears.                                      But the National up the hill was a
                                                                               more... (sophisticated?) Yeah, more
          Who was  projectionist at the Grand
                                                                               sophisticated, a more comfortable
          when you were there?
                                                                               theatre. It wasn’t a big barn like the
            Charlie Bird, a very cluey person, a
                                                                               Cinema, holding 2,000 people.
          very, very quiet man, never talked, you
                                                                                  My family had permanent seats
          could never really get him to talk about
                                                                               booked at the National on Saturday
                                                                               night - L6, L7 and L8 - downstairs in
            But it was at South Yarra that I had
                                                                               the stalls. I sat on the aisle and took it
          the grandmaster of all projectionists in
                                                                               all in.
          my mind in Frank Krautel. He wouldn’t
          let you do things by halves - everything                             After the Grand, what were some of
          was to be done properly. His motto was                               the other cinemas you worked in?
          “When you do something check it, then                                   Well, while at the Grand I was
          check it again, and then for the third                               called out to other theatres a few times
          time make sure it’s right, check it                                  - to the Windsor and the Regent in
          again,” and that was the way I went  The rare photo (above right)    Fitzroy - when someone was away.
          through my whole life in the projection  shows the murals by Portia     I stayed at the Grand about nine
          room - check, check, check. And OK,  Geach, who later held an        months I think. The assistant
          we all make mistakes and have little  exhibition in Paris.           projectionist from the Padua
          blackouts here and there, but I would  Illuminated aisle markers     Brunswick had a daytime job as well
          say for the majority of my career I went  were typical of the        as his cinema work, and he wanted
          through without any great and dismal  craftsmanship in this          more time off during the day.
          failures.                         flagship theatre.

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