By Anthony Buckley
Tony Buckley is easily put to take us behind the curtain to monitor via his eyes the attention-grabbing progress of Australian film-making. protecting an enormous interval of our sleek historical past, he introduces us to the characters he has met: actors, stars, manufacturers, technicians - sharing his interesting tales and insights.
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Additional resources for Behind a Velvet Light Trap: From Cinesound to Cannes - A Filmmaker's Journey
I have spoken to many locals and old timers who remember it vividly. An old acquaintance, Bill Turnbull remembered it as being very salubrious. ’ Whilst some remembered it as very comfortable and the audiences well behaved, Mrs Whitlam of Crows Nest remembered the ‘loud shrieking audiences’ at the matinees. ‘They used to open the back doors and we would sneak our friends in. It was a big old barn of a place and it didn’t have foyers. ’ My favourite anecdote comes from Ted Davidson of Killara. He and his mates used to go barefoot to the Queens.
But this was not Longford’s first involvement with filmmaking. In 1908 he had worked on Cozen Spencer’s feature-length documentary, The Burns Johnson Fight at the old Rushcutters Bay Stadium. Some footage still survives. So when Alfred Rolfe left Spencer’s Pictures, Longford was put in charge of production and made his directing debut with The Fatal Wedding in 1911. Longford and Lyell toured the play in New Zealand, playing the leading roles, and it was a logical transition to move the play to a motion picture.
If it was the Prince Edward I knew it would be light refreshments at Romanos. My first encounter with a city matinee was at the State Theatre in Market Street and the first film I was to see in this Picture Palace was Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I can’t remember the film but I’ll never forget the main titles. I was fascinated as to how barrels of oil being tipped from the top of the screen were washing away the titles for the following title to be seen. No doubt it must look very corny now but in 1944 in a 2,000-seat picture palace I was awestruck.