VistaVision comes to Perth’s Piccadilly Theatre

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Uploaded on: February 5, 2018

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VistaVision comes to Perth’s Piccadilly Theatre

Greg Lynch says – VistaVision comes to Perth’s Piccadilly Theatre – During 1954 management installed new lenses, a large seamless screen, and made major alterations in preparation for Paramount’s “White Christmas” which was to be presented in vistaVision (Motion Picture High Fidelity). Yes the Piccadilly was getting ready to give “The Ambassadors” located further up Hay Street, who were playing big screen CinemaScope a run for their money..The proscenium was widened, almost wall to wall. Ron Mudge (A legendary industry identity) who had a lifetime association with Perth cinema tells me that the two front exits got in the way and had to be dropped down level with the stage. This meant going down below floor level with a three stair step down, and the added introduction of hand rails. Then it was discovered that when the curtains were fully opened they were gathering on the sides, and reducing the size of the screen, and thus it was decided to install drop down curtains. So there it was at great expense – a wall to wall screen with magnificent gold curtain drapes, plus new lenses & apertures and the installation was complete. The sound was mono. White Christmas in VistaVision was a major presentation at the Piccadilly, and during 1954 I was lucky enough to catch an intermediate session, and was very impressed with the new big screen and the increased definition of the large negative process. VistaVision was also installed at the sister venue “The Princess Theatre, Fremantle”. In my opinion these two locations were the only optimum installation of VistaVision ever made in Western Australia. I suspect that the VistaVision four sprocket, single frame compromise playing at the Piccadilly & The Princess was appreciated more by those within the industry, rather than the general picture going public who had no access or understanding of the original double frame horizontal format. Make up your own mind, here is the 1954 publicity blurb from Paramount directed at Exhibitors – Quote “ VistaVision release prints will play in any theater anywhere in the world with an improvement in picture quality. Some improvement will be apparent even on the old “postage stamp” screens in theaters where not one cent has been spent to improve the presentation. Theaters that have large seamless screens and good projection equipment will gain full advantage of VistaVision without further change or expenditure.“ end quote. During that same period I can recall extended seasons at the Piccadilly for Rock Hudson’s “Magnificent Obsession” and it’s sequel “All That Heaven Allows” also “The Glenn Miller Story'” all from Universal Pictures, and all were boxoffice bonanzas for The Piccadilly..So here we are in 2018 and Perth’s, Piccadilly Theatre, the much celebrated Art Deco Picture Palace, continues to sit dark in Hay Street..They saved The Regent in Collins St, Melbourne didn’t they ?. What will it take ? – The Piccadilly VistaVision installation details courtesy of Ron Mudge…

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