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AFI research collection
Reference Type The Argus newspaper
Title Mr. Scullin to speak.
Town Melbourne
State VIC
Country Australia
Publication Date 04-04-1932
Citation Date
Page Number 6
Comments This very brief newspaper advertisement informing the public about a political gathering to be held in the Middle Park Picture Theatre points to a few very interesting facts about the cinema. First, the person who was to speak at this meeting held at the cinema on 4 April 1932 was Mr James Henry Scullin, then the leader of the Federal Labor party, who just three months prior to this meeting had held the office of Prime Minister of Australia (1929-1932). The meeting initiated a very active local branch of the Labor Party who from that moment on held regular meetings at the cinema. According to an article published in The Age on 20 September of the same year (‘Protest meeting at Middle Park’, p. 7), the sheer announcement of the Labor (then the opposition) protest meeting to be held at the cinema was enough for the government of the day to change its attitude in regards to the issue at stake. This just shows the effects these meetings held at the cinema had on the political life of the era.

Another interesting aspect to notice is that this was happening amidst the Great Depression that hit Australia in the early thirties, following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. No doubt, Middle Park then a working class suburb was greatly effected. The increase in unemployment meant that not many people could afford the luxury of watching “flicks” at the local picture theatre. At the same time the membership of the local branch of the Labor Party was increasing in numbers and the meetings held at the Middle Park Picture Theatre were regular happenings often attendant by the prominent figures of the Labor movement of the day (‘Labor Unity’, The Age, 25 January 1934, p. 10). The earnings made through these hires of the hall for political gatherings compensated for the drop in numbers of regular cinemagoers, and that could account for the cinema’s survival through the Great Depression amidst a plenitude of larger purpose built cinemas in the neighbouring suburbs, most notably Kinema (1920-1983) and The Park (1938-1962) in Albert Park, Eclipse (1924-1959) and Port (1913-1952) in Port Melbourne, and Victory (1921-1971) and Palais (1927-1970) in St Kilda.

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Synopsis This very brief newspaper advertisement tells of one other use of the Middle Park Picture Theatre that could account for its long survival as an independent cinema amidst a plenitude of larger purpose build cinemas in the neighbouring suburbs.
tags: Cinema Cinema and Politics Labor Party Melbourne Suburban Cinemas Melbourne Suburban Picture Theatres Middle Park Hall Middle Park Picture Theatre Middle Park Theatre Picture Theatre The Great Depression 
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