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When in at the Museum of Performing Arts at His Majesty’s Theatre a couple of weeks back, archivist Ivan King showed me the interior shots he has of the Plaza. They are wonderful – and thank heavens high resolution images still exist. They haven’t been scanned unfortunately but I’m hoping I can get Ivan to scan them for me so I can upload here.
Back in July 2005, I partly quoted Ross Thorne’s commentary on Perth’s Capitol from PICTURE PALACE ARCHITURE IN AUSTRALIA (Sun Books, 1976). Here is Thorne’s full assessment: “The Capitol Theatre in Perth was an intriguing and distinctive cinema designed by architects Poole and Mouritzen. It followed the classical line with an extremely late art nouveau overlay. Unencumbered by the design policies of the big exhibitor companies, they achieved a most remarkable design that should never been allowed to disappear. Whereas most of the popular, voluptuously vulgar Spanish and atmospheric cinemas of the time can only be termed pop art, the decoration of this one contained the essence of real art. The auditorium was a noble space, and the foyers and lounge lobbies were ingenious in decoration. Instead of moulded plaster, the architects decided to use paint. The flat wall, square column faces and ceiling panels were vividly decorated in patterns, panels and leafy murals. The lounge foyer displays curvilinear patterns and stylized plant forms in an art nouveau style still struggling to escape from Victorian clutter.” (p. 23).
The Piccadilly’s interior was genuinely classic Art Deco-cum-Moderne architecture and the detailing was of a very high quality. Most remains but it is really in desperate need of a fairy godmother to wave the proverbial and return it to its glorious original state. It’s not too late but the political will is waning. But I live in hope.
Regrettably, it seems the Piccadilly is now mothballed indefinitely with the recent decision by the City of Perth not to approve heritage restoration funds towards a new incarnation as a live music venue. Sigh.
The demolition of the Kings Marrickville was one of the earliest of the many crimes committed in the soulless 1970s …
This section of Perth’s CBD was essentially devoted to banking and the professions, with the big boulevard running through the left of the image being St George’s Terrace. The Capitol is at the Swan River end of William Street, and is the only theatre to have ever been built in this section of the city. Indeed, its location away from the commercial and retail streets where all the other CBD theatres were (Ambassadors, Royal, Plaza, Piccadilly, Metro, Grand, His Majesty’s) put it at something of a trading disadvantage as it did not enjoy a large volume of passing pedestrian traffic. It ultimately primarily became a live performance venue, being the home, until its demolition, of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
This is a VERY INTERESTING advertisement in that it reveals that “on Thursday evening” three radio stations (6WN, 6WA, 6GF) would be broadcasting the AUDIO of Mrs Miniver “in its entirety” as it was being screened ‘live’ to an audience at Perth’s Metro Theatre. Now, this has to be a rare occurrence!
When I posted this ad, I said c.1936 but it must have been 1938 as this was when THE HURRICANE was released in Australia.
Of VICTORIA THE GREAT, Variety wrote, “Not cloak-and-cocked-hat historical tedium of pageantry and fancy dramatics, Victoria the Great travels a long way toward a full and clarified explanation of the most popular ruler England ever had…Anna Neagle, in the title role, gives an unwavering performance throughout. Anton Walbrook as Albert, the Prince Consort, is superb…The film wisely puts its prime focus on the private life of Victoria, her romance, marriage, and personal characteristics. Backgrounded is her public life, and her gradual rise to such high estimation of her people. Victoria the Great is done with a lavish hand … ”
One of the most successful Australian films of the era, the critic from the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that “there have been some good Australian films before this one, but Forty Thousand Horsemen has every right to be regarded as the first really great Australian picture.”
It was a massive success at the box office, and it was seen by 287,000 in Sydney alone during a ten-week run on first release. Its Perth season at the Plaza also attracted huge crowds.
The hurricane sequence in THE HURRICANE (1937) drew this fabulous response from Frank S. Nugent in the New York Times: “It is a hurricane to blast you from the orchestra pit to the first mezzanine. It is a hurricane to fill your eyes with spin-drift, to beat at your ears with its thunder, to clutch at your heart and send your diaphragm vaulting over your floating rib into the region just south of your tonsils.”
Not remembered today as much as it should be, IN WHICH WE SERVE was cited by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures as the Best English Language Film of the Year. It was also nominated in the 1943 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay (losing out to Casablanca and Princess O'Rourke respectively). However Coward was presented with an Academy Honorary Award for “his outstanding production achievement.”
In Which We Serve also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (beating Casablanca) and the Argentine Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Film in 1943.
The Royal was indeed a great place to see films in 70mm, screening the likes of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This photo is exactly how I remember it in the 1960s and early 70s. Films I saw there include FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and PAINT YOUR WAGON.
This 1939 ad placed by the Regal Theatre management implores film-goers to SHOP FOR YOUR PICTURES! This meant choosing the Regal because clearly it offered better PICTURES, LIGHT, SOUND, SEATING, VENTILATION and SERVICE … So, there you have it!
This large display ad (bottom half)appeared in the Perth Sunday Times’s annual Movie Supplement published on 13th August 1939.
This large display ad (top half)appeared in the Perth Sunday Times’s annual Movie Supplement published on 13th August 1939.
Of CAPTAIN FURY, Brian Aherne wrote that “[it] seemed like such a farrago of nonsense to me that I was very happy to know that Juarez would rescue me by coming out at about the same time. Well, Juarez turned out to be a highly respected box-office flop while Captain Fury cleaned up and went on playing all over the world for many years with countless television runs.”
Nice! Mega thanks for posting Tim.
Why are there no auditorium photographs posted? I’m keen to see what the interior was like.
Perth audiences – indeed audiences across Australia – flocked to the three rival films dealing with the Queen’s 1954 Australian tour. The Ambassadors had THE ROYAL TOUR OF OUR QUEEN, while the officially-sanctioned film was THE QUEEN IN AUSTRALIA which was screening at Perth’s Piccadilly Theatre. At the same time, the Metro was screening WELCOME THE QUEEN! Meanwhile, the newsreel house, the Mayfair Theatrette was also featuring a lot of tour content. These ‘Royal Tour’ films were some of the highest grossing films in Australia in 1954.
I saw THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the Royal in 1966.
A former newsreel theatrette located in a basement, when the Mayfair become the Capri, a coffee shop was created in the lobby and, like the Liberty been in the 1950s, it was initially a continental/art house cinema before moving to more mainstream programming due to limited audiences.
What a MAJOR CRIME this fabulous theatre’s destruction was!
The neo-classical building with the Corinthian columns to the left is the Theatre Royal. The red brick Medieval Gothic Revival style tower belongs to the Perth Town Hall.