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    Adelaide - Entertainment and the Arts

    Picture Theatres

    Also see South Australia - Moving Pictures & Television

    An Essay on the Lantern Operator

    (Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience)

    I asked our local lantern operator how long he had been at the job and he entered into an interesting discourse on the profession and the latest form of public entertainment, the cinematograph: 'Oh, since I was at school. After seeing one of the crude instruments of my early days exhibited at a Band of Hope meeting I procured materials and directions and made a magic lantern and began to experiment with it with a two-wick oil lamp. The views which had particularly struck my fancy were gaily coloured slides depicting people in action. This business is constantly growing in importance.

    'No university, college, or public school even, is complete without its lantern outfit and shutters to darken its lecture room at midday for demonstration purposes; and it is beginning to be recognised that education through the eye to the mind is quicker and more permanent than the tedious drumming in of abstract information.

    'I expect to see the day when many costly chemical and other experiments will be adequately illustrated in progress to our State school students by means of the cinematograph. There are some funny incidents occasionally when lantern slides get out of order. At a missionary lecture the announcement: "The next picture will show you one of our best-loved teachers surrounded by his domestic circle" was followed by the appearance of a burly cannibal and his 15 wives!

    'The common house fly has several times bothered me exceedingly. In the summer evenings these pests often get on the slide and are projected on to the sheet enormously magnified. In one instance when a lady vocalist was engaged on an illustrated song, and had come to the death bed scene, her equanimity was completely upset by a tittering audience, which, as she had her back to the screen, was totally inexplicable.

    'A fly had settled on the lens, and appeared as a fearful monster two feet long, tickling an angel's foot. The lantern was never more popular than it is today. The favourite subject here for lecture purposes appear to be first-rate views of Australian scenery.

    'The cinematograph' Well, it is a great institution, and can be made a powerful factor in public instruction and entertainment, but a high grade of pictures must be insisted upon. I shall never forget the thrill that went through me when I first saw an exhibition of the triumph of science represented in the realm of animated pictures. Before they are safe for indiscriminate use some less combustible material must be invented for the films.'

    General Notes

    Early "panoramas" and picture shows are discussed in the Register,
    22 September 1923, page 13c.

    A performance of a cinematographe at the Theatre Royal is described in the Observer,
    9 January 1897, page 35a.

    "Picture Prosperity - Rise and Progress of West's" is in the Register,
    19 August 1909, page 7e;
    "A New Picture Theatre - West's Big Scheme" is in the Register,
    22 July 1911, page 17g,
    information on the Olympia Theatre (West's) is in The Mail,
    17 January 1914, page 20c.
    7 March 1929, page 23a.

    "Sunday Shows Held" is in the Observer,
    25 February 1911, page 41c,
    11 and 18 March 1911, pages 17b and 47d.

    "A New Picture Theatre - West's Big Scheme" is in the Register,
    22 July 1911, page 17g.

    Information on West's Theatre in Rundle Street is in the Register,
    29 July 1912, page 7d.

    "Picture Shows - Their Great Popularity" is in the Register,
    14 November 1911, page 10f.

    "Adelaide's New Theatre - The Pavilion Picture Palace" is in the Advertiser,
    21 June 1912, page 12d.
    a photograph is in The Critic,
    18 September 1912, page 6.

    Information on the Wondergraph Theatre is in the Register,
    28 September 1912, page 18c;
    its opening is reported in the Register,
    5 September 1913, page 15c,
    5 September 1913, page 19d; also see
    9 April 1920, page 27,
    31 May 1920, page 6 (sketch).

    A photograph of the Central Picture Theatre in Wakefield Street is in The Critic,
    14 August 1912, page 12.

    Information on the new Majestic Theatre is in the Express,
    4 February 1916, page 3f,
    22 May 1916, page 4e,
    5 June 1916, page 7d and
    its history on
    19 May 1928, page 15f; also see
    14 and 20 June 1928, pages 14a and 11c.

    "New Picture Theatre [in Rundle Street contiguous to the Norfolk Arms Hotel]" is in the Register,
    15 March 1916, page 4e,
    30 November 1916, page 4e; also see
    5 June 1918, page 9e.

    The proposed "The Grand" theatre is discussed in The Mail,
    15 July 1916, page 11c,
    25 November 1916, page 6e,
    17 July 1916, page 4d;
    its opening on
    1 December 1916, page 7h.
    Information on the Victoria Theatre and Theatre Royal appears on
    16 December 1916, page 5d.

    "Conduct in Theatres" is in the Register,
    23 July 1918, page 7f.

    "Gigantic Picture Theatre for Adelaide" is in the Advertiser,
    14 April 1920, page 12.
    9 April 1920, page 7b,
    17 April 1920, page 13c.

    The opening of the York Theatre is reported in the Register,
    31 October 1921, page 9,
    2 November 1921, page 8b; also see
    5 November 1925, page 11c,
    17 June 1929, page 6g.
    A photograph is in the Observer,
    15 September 1921, page 25.

    An obituary of Fred Coombs is in the Observer,
    22 April 1922, page 34c.

    Information on Ozone Theatres is in The News,
    22 and 23 March 1928, pages 19e and 6e.

    Information on the Regent Theatre is in the Register,
    16 May 1928, page 10h,
    25 and 31 May 1928, pages 15e and 11c,
    29 June 1928, pages 15, 16, 17 and 18,
    25 May 1928, page 18g,
    9 and 29 June 1928, pages 18a and 8 (opening);
    information on its Wurlitzer organ is in the Register,
    22 and 24 September 1928, page 6d.
    "Art Treasures" purchased by the Regent are discussed in The Mail,
    14 July 1928, page 14g.

    "Adelaide's Picture Theatres - Planning Ahead" is in the Advertiser,
    14 July 1928, page 19e.

    "Amusement Tax Rises Kills State Theatre Project" is in the Observer,
    31 August 1929, page 53b,
    7 September 1929, pages 10e-40a.

    "Story of Adelaide's Theatres" is in The Mail,
    9 January 1937, page 20.

    The opening of the Roxy Theatre on the bay Road is reported in The Mail,
    2 October 1937, page 10c.

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