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Not only was the slide screened at the Late
              Show, but after the trailer at the normal
              evening program, something that involved
              a trick called ‘snatching the arc’.  It was
              a skill that only South  Yarra assistant
              projectionists needed to master.

              Thacker also inserted the Late Show   He was possibly the best manager Hoyts
              attractions into the Hoyts block   had at the time, but as a non-conformist
              advertisements in the newspapers, and a   his talents went unrecognised. He
              large banner over the theatre’s entrance   kept the Late Show going despite
              showed the title of the next Late Show   indifference, if not opposition, and in
              program. All of these hand-painted signs   doing so made a significant contribution
              were carefully stored and re-used when   to Melbourne’s cultural life.
              necessary.  The supper show largely
              sold itself. Only towards the end of the   Thacker himself refused to acknowledge
              theatre’s life did it begin to struggle.  that the theatre was closing until he
                                                 stuck the “Theatre closed” posters
              Eric  Thacker was an extraordinary   on thedoors as we locked up for the
              fellow and the best stories about him   last time. He did not linger, just went
              are largely unprintable. He was a   straight to his car and was off.
              tall, well spoken and imposing man,                                   The manager of Hoyts Malvern (two
              with a formidable manner. He was an   He then retired from the industry and   stations down the train line) tried to
              event unto himself, a phenomenon, a   concentrated on his music.  At the   continue the tradition of Friday Late
              happening. He could be appallingly   Conservatorium his students knew him   Shows. It did not work out.
              rude and coarse, even to customers!  as Professor Thacker.
                                                                                    Similarly, late shows were exhibited at
              Two favourite Thackerisms were “Metro  Postscript                     Hoyts  Athenaeum in central Melbourne,
              going mouldy” (MGM) and “the worn-                                    until it too ceased showing films in the mid-
              out brothers” (Warner Bros.) He did not                               1970s. Hoyts even installed an up-market
              mind insults directed at himself - as long   The Regent had a one-year life as a   Philips 16mm projector for the purpose. +
              as they were good ones. If someone had   live-performance rock-and–roll venue.
              a complaint he would say, “Joe Walker’s   It burned down under questionable
              the name.  Tell him about it. I couldn’t   circumstances.             Eric  White worked at the South  Yarra
              care less.” (Circuit Supervisor Joe Walker                            Regent as an assistant projectionist for the
              could match Thacker for rudeness.)  About a year before it closed as a   last two and a half years of its existence.
                                                 cinema the Trak Cinema was established
                                                 further east on Toorak Road. The Trak
              On the other hand,  Thacker was
              well-educated, well connected and   remained viable for a further 25 years,   Photographs and ads from the collections of:
              cultivated. He taught part-time in the   demonstrating that there was still money   Eric White, Brian Pearson and Kevin Adams.
              music department at the University    in cinema in the area for a company with
              of Melbourne.                      some get up and go.                Below: Ad for the last Late Show.

                                                                                       CINEMAREC ORD  2012       17
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