Page 19 - CR
P. 19

The Herald report of 16th July
          1897, following the show, confirmed
          the popularity of the Cinematographe:
          “… and we are bound to state that in
          the history of the township we have
          never seen two larger audiences in the
            The report went on to detail the
          problems of coping with the
          “clamouring crowd”, detailed the
          program screened and concluded with:
          “By special request it has been
          arranged that another show will be
          given in Narracoorte during the first
          week in August.”
            Like most large country towns,
          Narracoorte played host to many
          travelling picture shows and towards  Above: The Town Hall adjoins the left side of the Mechanics Institute. 1924  R. King
          the end of 1906 there was a great flurry
          of activity. For example, in October the
                                               It appears that regular weekly  equal share basis, but this was only
          town was entertained by J&N Tait’s
                                            shows started when World Pictures,  possible if a new projectionist could be
          “Living London Show”. This included
                                            managed by H. Baldock opened on    found. Mr. A.C. Farmer, a local man,
          a popular film made in 1903 which was
                                            25th April 1913.                   trained and passed his cinema
          very financially rewarding for the Tait
                 (4, 12)                                                       operator’s licence followed by Mr. J.L.
          brothers.  Taits were followed by    This show changed name about a
                                  (5)                                          Thomson, thus enabling Austral
          Dan Barry’s “Wonder Show”  and on  year later to Premier Pictures which
          the 9th and 10th of November, the  seems to have coincided with a move to  Pictures to resume and continue
          famous Corricks with “Leonard’s   the newly built 700-seat Institute Hall  screenings. In 1931, when management
                          (6)                                                  of the Institute Hall was taken over by
          Beautiful Pictures”  brought their  next door which opened on 4th April
          well travelled show to town. This was a  1914. (It was later known as the Town  the Corporation (Town Council), a new
          ten member multi-skilled family from  Hall, management changing from the  partnership enabled continuation of
          New Zealand which toured Australia,  Institute Trustees to the Corporation in  “the pictures” - the Corporation
          India, South East Asia and England. As  1931.)                       providing the hall, and Dugald  (1, 7)
                                                                               installing sound on film equipment.
          well as screening moving pictures, the  Dugald Caldwell started to become
          family performed on the stage. They  involved in movies in Narracoorte at  Austral Pictures converted to sound
          also made their own short films! There  about this time. Caldwell was a very  at the time that the Institute hall was
          were many other shows over the years  interesting man, obviously committed  extensively refurbished as the Town
          making use of the Institute hall in  to the town. His brother, Archibald  Hall in late 1931. Some £3000 was
          Narracoorte.                      Caldwell was the second owner of the  spent on the alterations to the hall
                                            Narracoorte Herald, founded 1875, and  including the installation of sound-on-
                                            when he died Dugald assumed control  film equipment. A week before the
                                            of the paper. Dugald started and   grand opening of the new talkies, a
                                            managed Austral Pictures. He was not  Farewell to the Silent Pictures
                                            the operator; he employed others for  screening was held. Hoot Gibson in
                                            this position’ W. Clarke being his first  Smilin’ Guns suitably saw out the
                                            projectionist. However, he certainly  silents.
                                            contributed in a very practical way by
                                            accompanying the films on the piano!
                                            Austral Pictures opened from 28th
                                            May 1915 on Wednesday nights at the
                                            Institute Hall, as Premier Pictures were
                                            still screening on the Saturday nights.
                                               By October that year, Austral had
                                            secured the hall for Saturday nights
                                            however they were forced to close for
                                            some time because their operator
                                            responded to “the call of his country”
                                                                               Above: The Town Hall with the addition
                                            and enlisted. The Institute encouraged  of a bio-box above the entrance. C.1910.
                                            Dugald to re-start the pictures on an  Left: Naracoorte Herald 2nd Nov. 1906

                                                                                       CINEMARECORD 2010 19
   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24