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Charles Bremer: I'm only half a man.

Lisa: It's the right half.

     Man of Flowers (1983)
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January Issue

Classic Film

Celebrating Australian Film

As we do each year, we are opening our screening season with a great Australian film. So with that tradition in mind we are focusing on Australian film (in a broad sense) in our eZine. So we'll be taking a look at one of the great supporting actresses of Australian film - Robyn Nevin, at a great old Australian independent cinema... The Center Cinema in Canberra, and at Australia's contribution to a once  essential part of the cinema-going experience... the newsreel.

We appreciate that the long wait for our next screening has likely driven you a little mad (though not as mad as Chopper), so a taster of what we hope is a great year in film...  check out more about our first screening for the year by scrolling down to the bottom of the eZine.

We hope this issue has something of interest for you, and we hope we'll see you at many of our screenings over the course of the year
Classic Film Actresses
Robyn Nevin
Robyn Nevin was born on the 25th of September 1942, in Melbourne, to William George Nevin and Josephine Pauline Casey. She was educated at Genazzano Convent until the age of 11, when she moved with her family to Hobart and was enrolled at the Fahan School, a non-denominational school for girls. While there, she played the lead in the school's production of Snow White at the Theatre Royal. Her parents were conservative and conventional, her father being the managing director of Dunlop Australia, and her mother being a housewife. Her interest and her subsequent move into acting was not likely among the hopes of plans that William and Josephine had for their daughter but once the decision was made Robyn was fully supported by her parents
Robyn entered the National Institute Of Dramatic Art (NIDA) at age 16 in the very first intake in 1959. On graduating she went through what she called 'a little temperamental huff' with the theatre and took a job with the ABC in Tasmania. She cut her teeth in a variety of roles in radio and television, including current affairs, music, chat shows and childrens' shows throughout the early 1960s. She found she disliked being a television 'personality' and gravitated back to theatre where she has been a constant presence for the last 40 years. Although theatre has been her home ground she has also been a reliable talent in Australian films and mini-series, landing many credits for strong supporting roles. She made one foray into directing in the little noticed The More Things Change... (1986).
In the 1990s, after being in a number of productions that she found unsatisfactory from the actor's point of view she found she wanted more control over what she was doing. She expanded from being just an actor to directing and managing, ultimately becoming Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company. She is a doyenne of Australian theatre and has been awarded the Order Of Australia for her artistic contributions.
Over the years Robyn has appeared in many familiar Australian film and TV productions. It is a feature of Australian films that many of them feature both talented and recognisable ensemble casts, and Robyn's face would be familiar to many cinema goers.

Robyn has appeared in a number of films that have been screened by Classic films, these include: Careful, he might hear you, Caddie, and Goodbye Paradise. She also appeared in The Irishman, a film that was shot in Charters Towers in the late 1970's

Click on this link to listen to Robyn talk to Phillip Adams about her views on Australian film, TV and theatre and the pay discrepencies for females she has experienced. 
The Center Cinema
words by Andrew Pike... manager of the Center Cinema 1973-4, co-director of Ronin cinemas, operator of Cenetr cinema from 26th of April 1997 - 1st of June 2003.
The Center Cinema opened on 4th of October 1966 when Canberra was bereft of easy access to quality cinema, with the two Greater Union cinemas offering only mainstream product and the Canberra film society only offering irregular screenings. In this environment, the Center Cinema arrived with the tremendous promise of an adventurous programming policy.

Quality films were suddenly available on a regular weekly basis, and there was a management that knew well the finer names of European cinema. The vision of Darrel Killen and Enrico Taglietti promised to provide not just a quality cinema for Canberra, but one of the finest cinemas in the country.
The opening film was Dr Zhivago, but the very first week included the Canberra premiere of Jules Dassin's He Who Must Die, a French-Italian production complete with Melina Mercouri and subtitles.

Esoteric programming continued and included Satyajit Ray's Charulata, a sell-out midnight to dawn screening of the complete Russian production of War and Peace and the premiere of Kubrick's 2001 preceded by a space age ballet choreographed by Glynn Braddy.

The long running series of Sunday classics included samplings of films by the famous and great - Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni and more sat alongside the Late Shows that offered seemingly endless repeats of Alice's Restaurant, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Blues Brothers

Another highlight of the first decade of operation were the retrospective seasons of films by Alain Resnais (in 1967) and Francois Truffaut (in 1969). These seasons were bold exercises for a commercial cinema, and provided unprecedented opportunities to explore in depth the work of two key figures of the French New Wave.

 
There were 20 years or so of Chinese late shows on Sunday nights, which offered the chance to see the latest in Taiwanese and Hong Kong cinema.

My two years as manager in the early 70's was a baptism by fire for a naive young film enthusiasist straight from university. There are some nightmare memories from those two years - the launch of that ingenious horror classic, Count Yorga Vampire when the crowds were so huge and unruly that we had to call the police to restore order; the never-ending success of one of the world's worst films (the musical Lost Horizon) which as cinema manager I was forced to endure night after night after night, the bomb threat against the cinema by a fundamentalist crackpot during the season of Passolini's Decameron, not to mention the thunderstorm that began to flood the cinemas durring a presitgious black tie premiere.

And there were the great times - the local premiere of the first Barry McKenzie film in 1973 brought Barry Humphries and Bruce Beresford to town, and our admittedly crude campaign brought some pretty wild audiences. Night after night numerous patrons arrived quite drunk and attmepted to smuggle beer into the film so they could enjoy a coldie with Bazza.
Even though quality films have become so much more readily available, the center cinema always remained my favourite cinema in which to watch any film: that bright light on the huge screen, and the sweet stereo sound from that wonderful valve amplifier couldn't be beaten. While the building still stands, the cinema is effectively gone now, and cinema lovers everywhere are poorer for that fact.

A great film experience was never just about what was on the screen, the picture paolaces in which those films were screened was a big part of the enjoyment also. They don't make films like they used to and they certainly don't build picture palaces anymore... sadly.
The Newsreel

Before 1956, the news was read in newspapers, heard on ABC radio or seen on the screen during weekly (or more frequent) visits to the local movie theatre. The newsreels were an essential part of cinema programmes in Australia for over four decades and only started their decline, as in other countries, after the advent of television.

Australian newsreels were mostly issued weekly and reached the screen a few days to a week after the events they were protraying. If they lacked immediacy, they still enabled the public to feel some of the excitement of the events that they had read about a few days earlier.

The cinema programme of the 1930s and 1940s commonly consisted of two features (shorter than today's films), one or two newsreels, a cartoon and one or two trailers. One of the newsreels would usually be either Cinesound Review or Australian Movietone News, and the other, a so-called 'International Edition' of an American or British newsreel. These included the US. based Paramount, Metro, Universal and Movietone and from the UK., British Movietone and Gaumont British. 

There are few records of early newsreel production in Australia, but by the 1920s, it was thriving. There was the Australiasian Gazette, Pathe's Animated Gazette and Paramount Gazette as well as numerous local and regional newsreels. By late 1926, Australiasian had reached issue No. 820, and Paramount No. 490. Australian newsreel producers of the time apparently had little archival sense and, unlike their contemporaries in other countries, and almost nothing of their pre-1930 output survives.

The coming of sound meant the end of the smaller, independent newsreel producers. The equipment needed was much more expensive, higher quality film processing was essential, and the producers lacked the access to the larger market required to cover the higher production costs. By 1929, Fox was distributing their International Movietone News in Australia and incorporating an occasional local item. The first of these was an interview with Prime Minister Scullin and the second, perhaps not surprisingly, the 1929 Melbourne Cup.

From January 1931, the Australian Edition of Fox Movietone News began as a weekly newsreel. Also in 1931, the Melbourne Herald newspaper joined with Herschell's Films to introduce The Herald Newsreel, the first edition appearing on September 21. Union Theatres, not to be outdone, rushed their Cinesound Review into production and it was ready in time to include the Melbourne Cup in its first issue. Apparently, there wasn't room for three sound newsreels in Australia and Cinesound absorbed The Herald Newsreel late in 1932. From that time on, Australian newsreel production was based in Sydney. 

Around this time Rupert Kathner began producing his newsreel... Australia Today. It focused on less palatable and more sensational stories that included the real effects of poverty and the depression as well as the infamous Pajama girl murder. You can watch a really engaging Australian film called Hunt Angels (for free) that covers the exploits of Rupert Kathner on the Townsville Library's website by
following this link and entering your library card number.

And you can get a taste of Kathner's newsreel by clicking on the image below

Click on the above image to watch an excerpt from an Australia Today newsreel, courtesy of the NFSA

Cinesound was staunchly Australian, styling itself as 'The Voice of Australia'. Its managing editor for twenty five years, Ken Hall boasted that Cinesound was the 'all-Australian newsreel - we never used a foreign story except during the war and all those war stories involved Australian servicemen and were made by Australian cameramen'. Its competitor couldn't claim to be all Australian and simply used the title 'Fox Movietone News - Australian Edition'. Movietone had established a vast newsreel empire, with production centres established in London, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Prague and Tokyo as well as Sydney. The international edition was released in forty seven countries, in more than a dozen languages and was reputed to be seen by more than two hundred million people each week!

By 1956, the golden age of the newsreel in Australia was over. Television had arrived and by the 1960s both Cinesound and Movietone were under pressure. First the length of the reels began to shrink from the customary ten or eleven minutes to six, and then in 1970, the two companies merged, bringing to an end almost forty years of continuous production, to be replaced by Australian Movie Magazine which was a bold venture when newsreels had been closing throughout the world. Five years later, on November 27 1975, the last issue of Movie Magazine appeared. What is surprising is that the Cinema Newsreel lasted so long in Australia.

In the US. Warner Pathe News had closed in 1956, Paramount in 1957, Movietone in 1963, Metro News of the Day in 1967 and finally, Universal on December 26, the same year. British Movietone lasted until 1979.

Screening at Cafe Nova

Sunday, 29th of January

7.00pm start

Man of Flowers (1983)

An eccentric elderly man tries to enjoy the three things in life that he considers real beauty: collecting art, collecting flowers, and watching pretty women undress.

Drama     Rated: M      91 min
 
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