Prince Edward Theatre

36-42 Castlereagh Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000

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johngleeson
johngleeson on May 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

VISTAVISION Some clarity from the Widescreen Museum. Curator Martin Hart wrote “the first concept of VistaVision called for standard 35mm prints”. Some films were shown in 8 perf horizontal mode in limited runs. Paramount’s preferred ratio was 1.66:1 but it was possible to make 35mm 4 perf anamorphic prints of 2.00:1 however the vast majority were 35mm prints. Hart says with Technicolor dye prints made from the large Eastman neg, VistaVision provided an extremely sharp image with beautifully saturated colors. Ken is correct about only 35mm prints shown in Sydney, beginning with White Christmas.

Glee
Glee on March 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I am hoping to find any one that has photo’s from 1958 to 1960. I was Usherette, Stand girl,(Dressed in white ball gown Tiara etc) & Cashier. I have lost all my photo’s of the girls & would dearly love to see them again & any with myself in them. Along time ago but wonderful memories. Glee (Glennis)

ColP
ColP on August 25, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Around 1945 – 1947 my mum took me to see my Grandfather, Alfred O'Brien who was the band leader, and my mum’s dad, at the Prince Edward. I was 5 to 7 years old at the time. I guess we saw a movie as well, but whatever it was, I cannot recall. The theatre was amazing to me at that age, with it’s marble circular staircase and the giant chandelier. And when grandpa came into view with the band playing on the elevator floor in front of the stage, I was very excited. I believe that Alfred O'Brien was one of the founding members of the Musician’s Union of Australia, and he was also a very good bike rider. He won a race called the Sydney 1000.Don’t know the year. Believe the prize was a thousand pounds? Would love to hear from anyone who may have known Alfred O'Brien at the Prince Edward.

KenR
KenR on August 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Johngleeson writes about a huge VistaVision Screen being installed into the Prince Edward. My understanding was that all films shot in ‘true VistaVision’ were screened in Australia on 35mm reduction prints with a 1.85 ratio ~ Indeed, the prints we screened in G.U.O. Theatres were all 35mm thick frame line reduction copies. At times, we would get the prints that were screened at The Edward and all were 35mm 1.85 W/S. Nor at any time did I see any ‘true VistaVision’ prints at Paramount Dispatch. Is this a miss-understanding by the comment poster? or for a short time, did The Edward (or any other Australian Theatre ever screen true V/V..?? (maybe a correction needed with this)

KenR
KenR on August 31, 2012 at 4:41 am

While cleaning up today, found an old Theatre Ticket. It was for the final screening at the Prince Edward Thr in Syd, dated Sat 4th December (1965). The film that brought down the final curtain was the disappointing Paramount release of “War and Peace” ~ Great IB Technicolor and Cast, but a rather poor international co-production indeed. I see someone else (Bill C) has posted that it was “Beckett” (a better film to be sure) but, I and a lady friend were there, and it was sadly, “War and Peace” that ended this great Dream Palaces days (perhaps they may have screened several titles over different sessions on that day ~ maybe someone can clarify, and ease the confusion….?)

After the feature there were cheers and tears as a special Thr Tag was screened ~ “Thanking patrons for their years of support” ~ at the same time Streamers (and also Balloons I recall) were dropped from the ceiling.

A sad night for the Grand Days of Cinema. Pity about ‘War and Peace’ ~ maybe the sound vers of “Ten Commandments” could have been a better contender…considering it was the Silent vers that opened this fine Thr 41 yrs earlier,on the 5th of December 1924. But, even so, was good to share in the memory! K…………..

Bill_C
Bill_C on August 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

I was at the last night at The Prince Edward … it was sad … there were rats running all over the floor and the front of the proscenium from the demolition next door … the film was “Beckett” … a return season. This cinema and the St. James were national treasures and should never have been allowed to go.

johngleeson
johngleeson on May 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

The Prince Edward was at 36-42 Castlereagh Street and ran through the block with the back of the building (looking like another front) at 51-53 Elizabeth Street. It was very close to Martin Place and blocks away from the above map which has it on Park Street. In the 50’s the theatre installed a huge curved aluminum VistaVision screen. It was a one piece screen that had to be placed through the roof. Anyone who saw the premiere of Strategic Air Command on this screen will never forget the amazing sharpness and depth – the HD of its day.

Ianinsydney
Ianinsydney on June 18, 2010 at 12:24 am

Many of the light fittings from the Prince Edward are still in situ at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. The organ is preserved at Marrickville Town Hall and it has been there for over 40 years now !
A photograph of the interior of the Prince Edward with the organ being installed in 1924 can be found in the Wurlitzer book. The latter is available through the American Theatre Organ Society

leebee60
leebee60 on February 19, 2009 at 12:31 am

i often wonder about the girls my friend was june davidson and the 2 carmels the photos i will have to dig out and then scan them and email if you like i will let u know on here when thats done

leebee60
leebee60 on February 19, 2009 at 12:26 am

hi paul yes it was dallas and hudson rings a bell with me dallas was tall and had red hair.
hi david yes there was one married to les mcgrath she had left just before i started i wasnt there when you left i went on to work at the st james theatre oh what a let down lol oh and sandshoe sam mmmm i used to wonder if he was a flasher lol gosh this is so great finding out about the pe if we didnt want to go out the front because there was a guy we didnt want to see we would go up through the organ into the theatre and out the back way the people in the front row used to get a shock lol

davidbuckley
davidbuckley on February 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Hi leebee60, I am afraid I cannot recall the names of any of the usherettes, but i think one of them was married to the band leader. Was that Dallas? I do recall my last night at the PE when the girls surprised me with a farewell gift, I think it was a smart mauve shirt and a tie,accompanied with lots of hugs and tears, very sad. So much water under the bridge since then.I would love to see your pics, it may just jolt the old memory banks into action. Perhaps we could arrange an e.mail exchange sometime.What a revelation about Mr Gatwood, at least he didnt ask to see my legs, but he had no trouble ticking me off if I was late in bringing his dinner tray up from the restaurant next door and downstairs, was that Romanos? I remember the girls on the upper level foyer entry were often plagued by a weird guy they called “Sandshoe Sam”. He used to wear a cloth hat, dark glasses, an overcoat and sandshoes, and used to peer at them from behind the billboards.Happy Days long gone.

paullewis
paullewis on February 18, 2009 at 2:42 am

leebee60, can you remember the name of the head usherette? Was it by any chance Dallas Hudson?

leebee60
leebee60 on February 18, 2009 at 2:27 am

i remember you david i was one of the usherettes and worked on all those movies and more dallas was the head usherette and she looked after us like we were family i was only 16 yes i lied about my age loli was also on the stand in the foyer for a dean martin and jerry lewis film in a white satin dress, mr gatwood gave me the job but only after i had to show him my legs lol he did that to every one ihave 2 old pics of us girls in our summer uniform i was so sad to see it go it really was the theatre beautiful the only one of its kind in australia. its good to see we have a web page for the PE
leebee60@bigpond .net.au

davidbuckley
davidbuckley on January 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm

At age 14, I was a Page Boy at the Prince Edward Theatre, in the mid 50’s. I vividly remember the opulence of the theatre, and some names still ring a bell. I believe the alternating managers were a, Mr Gatwood and a Mr Garth, both of whom were always resplendent in dinner suits. The similarly imposing Commissionaire was a Greek named Tony who had a penchant for weightlifting and smelled of apples and oranges, his staple diet. The usherettes took great delight at my embarrassment, when I was summoned by buzzer to their dressing room, only to find most of them in various stages of undress. I soon became accustomed to it, and actually looked forward to the buzzer. I recall the live performances, the organ and also an orchestra which may have been Les McGrath and his orchestra of renown. Some of the movies played during my time were, The Man Who Knew Too Much…The Trouble With Harry…Anything Goes… Wer'e No Angels…South Pacific…The Court Jester, and possibly more I can’t remember. What I do recall is having to clean out those large silver bowl ashtrays, on ornate stands in the lounge areas of the foyer, and topping them up with water to extinguish the glowing stogies. More than half a century on at age 66, whenever I hear or see the name of an actor or film of the era, I immediately drift back to those halcyon days of the theatre when people dressed for the occasion and behaved like true Ladies and Gentlemen and partook of their entertainment in sumptious and regal surroundings, and I recall how, albeit in a small way, I was part of that.

paullewis
paullewis on August 16, 2007 at 9:58 pm

I have a somewhat vague memory of seeing a film at the Prince Edward when I was very young, not long before it closed. The film has long been forgotten but the organist and the sound of that great instrument remains quite vivid in my mind after all these years!
The demolition of the theatre and subsequent loss of the wonderful Hotel Australia nearby changed the centre of Sydney forever – glad I was able to see these landmarks before being swept away for non entities.
Paul Lewis

LesWilliams40
LesWilliams40 on April 20, 2007 at 12:33 pm

I was asst projectionist at the PE from 1957 to 1961. The chief projectionist was Burt Cusack and the projectionist was Adrian Morris.

The session opened with the organist, Noreen Hennessey, then into a live on stage show, intermission was the organ and then the main feature, Them were the days. However a greedy developer changed this palace into a insurance building.

Les Williams
Melbourne Australia

npalmer
npalmer on July 26, 2006 at 12:53 am

The Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ from the Prince Edward was purchased by the Theatre Organ Society of Australia (NSW Div)Inc. who installed it in Marrickville Town Hall, Sydney. TOSA continues to own and care for the instrument.

Lady Fairfax had the main auditorium chandelier modified to fit in her New York apartment. I believe the apartment was eventually sold. When it was on the market, it made it into the one of the Sydney papers only because of the chandelier’s history!

The plaster cameo of Prince Edward that used to hang in the foyer is with the organ but alas not on display.

I think the final screening was actually War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn.

pookie
pookie on June 6, 2005 at 4:18 pm

Could anyone point to any sources of documentation and photographs of the organist Noreen Hennessey, who played at the Prince Edward theatre in Sydney, possibly up to the 1960’s.

Cheers,

Chris McElhinney
Melbourne.

PAULB
PAULB on January 4, 2004 at 6:04 pm

I have the newsreel of the Bob hope visit. I have saved it for 30 years as I found it in the rubbish and screened it at my own cinema on special nights. I saw a films there was when I was 8 like HATARI. It mostly ran Paramount and Allied Artist films in the 50s/60s. All the Elvis and Jerry Lewis pix too. I think the management hated those and really preferred more “Audrey” sophisticated fare.
The PE was all blue and gold and right up till the last days had a theatre organ played by Noreen hennessy. She would lurch forward and announce “My song for you this session is…..etc” She was lovely and looked like someone’s Aunty – which no doubt she really was. He most infamous claim to fame was the first night of BILLY BUDD and poor young Billy was swinging from the yard arm…as the credits rolled, Noreen erupted loudly with ANCHORS AWEIGH, in an apparent attempt to be nautical and cheer us all up.
The crying premiere audience collapsed with laughter and Noreen made the news. The PE was the first of the major cinema demiolitions and really let us know that if it could come down then anything could. And of course did. The last film was BECKETT but not before a repeat season of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS. All very Prince Edward. Now of couse, we have more shops and offices.