Page 15 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2003 #41
P. 15

Who was projectionist at the Padua?
            Ron Alexander I remember. Ron
          was great, he was another phase of my
          education. Of course at the Padua we
          had a second assistant - we were
          always training up second assistants.
            Come Saturday afternoon Ron
          Alexander - well I can speak about this
          now I suppose - he enjoyed a drink, and
          for the quarter to two show on Saturday
          the second assistant and I would make
          up the film and get it all ready. Ron
          wouldn’t be there, so we’d start the
          matinee and about half an hour later the
          lights would come on in the stairwell
          and you’d walk over and look down
          and you’d see Ron’s head sticking
                                                                                    Hoyts’ former work -rooms, Little
          through the door at the bottom saying,
                                                                                    Bourke Street, at the rear of what
          “Everything right up there fellas?”
                                                                                    was the Esquire/De Luxe, remain
             “Yes Ron, it's all running well.”                                      almost unchanged from when they
          “OK, I’ll see you in about an hour,” and                                  were built in 1915.
          off he’d go back to the pub. But that
          was good experience.
                                            drop it in, pick up the B-feature and  With the wooden box cases we looked
          Those were the years when not every  bring it back to the Padua, and then go  like business executives I’m sure.
          theatre had its own copy of a film.  home again for the rest of the day.   Then I met a young gentleman just
            At the Regent South Yarra we       That was quite a chore actually.  arrived out from England, James White.
          used to switch with the Regent Fitzroy  Quite regularly the tram conductor  He had been in the film industry there
          of all places, which was several suburbs  would say “What’s in the bag son?”  and I palled up with Jim who was
          away. Sometimes if they were close  “Film Mr. Conductor.” “Well, you  working at the Barkly in Footscray.
          switches the film would be coming over  know you’re not supposed to carry film  I’d been at the Padua for about 18
          spool by spool, carried by two people  on trams.” That was because film was  months at this time and it had become a
          on motor bikes. If the film was running  highly flammable in those days, there  bit of a chore to me mostly because of
          short at the Regent South Yarra, Frank  was no safety film.          the day switching of the films.
          Krautel had a knack of holding the                                      I heard of a vacancy at the
                                            Were you one of the assistants who
          motor and let the belt slip slightly to                              Trocadero Footscray and applied for a
                                            every week used to take in advertising
          slow the projector down. He’d get the                                transfer. It was a second or third release
                                            slides and records to be swapped over?
          broom handle and lever it under the                                  house, and they rarely had to switch
                                               Yes, it was quite a social event
          motor so that it lifted the motor, which                             their films. This meant we had all the
                                            really. In the offices behind the Esquire
          was hinged, and take some tension off                                film made up on the change day and we
                                            in Bourke Street (the back of the
          the belts, and you’d hear the sound                                  kept that film without it going out of
                                            theatre faced on to Little Bourke
          come down a tone or two.                                             the projection room, which was a nice
                                            Street), Harry Gratton a projectionist at
            The Padua used to switch with the                                  change, not worrying about switching
                                            Essendon - either the Circle or Plaza,
          Grand because they were only about                                   films with other people.
                                            and another manager arranged the
          two or three km. apart.                                                 Alec Boyce was projectionist at the
          And films arrived tail out didn't they?   You would carry a little square  Trocadero, and I got on well with him.
            Yes, it was up to the theatre   wooden case, quite narrow, to take  He told me where to go downstairs
          receiving to rewind them.         about eight or ten records, all in their  when the phone rang, where to go to
                                                                               get coffee for him and once he told me
                                            cardboard folders, and each week you’d
          That would need some fast rewinding                                  that he always revelled in the fact that
                                            go in there and give them to Harry who
          in some cases.                                                       he had the best assistant projectionist
                                            would give you back another case.
            Oh, it wasn’t so bad at the Padua                                  on the circuit because I never missed
                                            You would check the records, give
          and Grand. The only thing was, the                                   out on getting his coffee for him.
                                            them a quick clean and put them back
          Padua - because of its superiority on                                   Alec was a great punter and all
                                            in your case.
          the circuit - always ran the main feature                            Saturday afternoon he would have his
                                               You would also bring back your
          after interval, so the assistant or the                              cupboard open over in the side of the
                                            used ads for that week and hed give
          second assistant had to do the swap                                  projection room with his little portable
                                            you the new ones for the following
          during the day. I used to come out from                              radio in it. It was taboo in those days to
                                            week. That was on the change day - it
          Richmond to Brunswick by tram, pick                                  have portable radios in projection
                                            might have been a Friday then, I’m not
          up the film at the Padua, get on                                     rooms, but he’d tie up the phone lines
                                            sure - Thursday or Friday.
          another tram and take it down in a                                   for most of the day to his bookmaker. I
          canvas bag down to the Grand,                                        don’t think he won a lot of money.
                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2008 15
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