The western region of the Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) has had a series of presidents since Daryl Binning decided to concentrate on the role of national president. Photography emporium proprietor Ron Frank kept the seat warm for a short time, followed by television pioneer Ross McDonald. The current president is John Fuhrmann, a man with vast experience in sports administration with an early background as a football umpire, whilst maintaining a long held passion for music as a theatre organist.
John’s background in the cinema industry is as a MGM (Metro Theatre) organist from 1966 to 1973, specialising in music from Broadway shows and the roaring twenties on the WurliTzer pipe organ, which since the demolition of this grand theatre, now resides at the Karrinyup Community Centre. Before that, he played a grand electric organ at the long-gone Ambassador Theatre in Perth City, before moving to the pipe organ at the former Metro Theatre on William Street.
A few years ago, The Western Region of AMMPT installed a theatre organ at the historic Cygnet Theatre in Como to give movie-goers an idea what the cinema experience used to be like, with the melodies of a bygone era kindly provided by John at the keyboard. AMMPT now conduct a regular public fund raising event at this cinema on the third Sunday morning of each month.
This dedicated team of veteran projectionists and cinema enthusiasts congregate to conduct screenings of classic movies from the heyday of Hollywood, with the Cygnet as the nostalgic venue.
The AMMPT stalwarts who make this possible include: Barry Goldman, Graeme Lacey, Peter Foyster, Tony Smith and Gerry Voutsinas with George Robinson and Jillian Carlson selecting the programme for 2013. Meanwhile, former Cygnet employee Val Cope is now acting as the ticket seller and Agnes Foyster does the raffle every month, as well as assisting in the candy bar.
Adding to the charm of the occasion is that the cinema is a fine example of Art Deco style architecture, with the building being nominated by the National Trust in 1995 for the WA Register of Historic Buildings, and then included in the Register of the National Estate in 1997.
The theatre is owned by Colin Stiles of the famed Stiles cinema family, and managed by AMMPT member Graham Kahn.
AMMPT Presents 2013 Classics of the Silver Screen
WA TV History
The Australian Museum of Motion Picture and Television (AMMPT) present a preview of their movie schedule for 2013.
A range of classic motion pictures which will be screened at the heritage listed Cygnet Cinema in Como, Western Australia.
Doors open at 10am and screenings commence at 10:30am.
The program includes nostalgic items and other short films, which will bring back memories of a real “picture show” experience.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) – February 17th
Elements of this film combine with drama, romance, light humour, and finally, tragedy when the Second World War suddenly throws English life into turmoil. The movie deals with what civilians have to go through while the men are off fighting in the war. The rationing and shortages and then the blitz as Germany seeks to terrorise the British people into submission. Stars Greer Garson as Mrs. Kay Miniver, Walter Pidgeon as her husband Clem Miniver, Richard Ney as son Vin Miniver, Teresa Wright as his love interest Carol Beldon, who is the grand daughter of Lady Beldon, played by Dame May Whitty. The movie won 6 Oscars.
A Tale of Two Cities (1935) – March 17th
An adaptation of Dickens’ classic novel, which is set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. Ronald Colman plays lawyer Sydney Carton, who defends emigre Charles Darnay (Donald Woods) from charges of spying against England. He becomes infatuated with Darnay’s fiancée, Lucie Manette (Elizabeth Allan), and agrees to help her save Darnay from the guillotine when he is captured by Revolutionaries in Paris.
Northwest Passage (1940) – April 21st
Set in Colonial American during the French and Indian Wars (1754 – 1763), it recalls the true exploits of a group of Rangers sent up into the French-Canadian woods to destroy the Abenaki red indian village on the St. Francois (Saint-Francis) river in Quebec. It has been the base for raids and attacks on British settlements. Major Robert Rogers (Spencer Tracy) is an officer in the British army who believes that one should be living and thinking like the American Indian in order to fight them. This film also tells the story of two friends, Langdon Towne (Robert Young) and Hunk Marriner (Walter Brennan), who join Rogers’ Rangers, as the legendary elite force engages the enemy. The movie is packed with spectacular battles, heroism, heartbreaking scenes and blood-letting deeds.
Maytime (1937) – May 19th
Maytime is a MGM musical romance starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Based loosely on Sigmund Romberg’s 1917 operetta, with the story also resembling Noël Coward’s operetta Bitter Sweet in which an elderly Miss Morrison recounts her life as Marcia Mornay (Jeanette MacDonald) a once young and beautiful American opera singer in Paris who was guided to success by famed voice teacher Nicolai Nazaroff (John Barrymore). One evening, she encounters an American voice student, Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy) and the two unexpectedly fall in love. Unfortunately for her, she has already accepted the marriage proposal of her mentor, Nicolai, and breaks off her relationship with Paul, to reluctantly marries Nicolai. After seven years of marriage, Nicolai sets up Marcia for an engagement performance in the United States of the opera “Tsaritsa”. Nicolai signs up Paul as her leading partner, not knowing of Marcia and Paul’s past. When he realises what he has done, Nicolai becomes enraged with jealousy. Years later as an elderly woman, who now lives in lonely seclusion, she tells her story to a younger woman in the hopes that is will help her decide between a career and love.
The Great Dictator (1940) – June 16th
A satire on Adolf Hitler against fascism that directly addressed Anti-Semitism and was released in 1940, before the United States entered World War II. The tragedy was that Chaplin made a plea for the madness to end, but it was already too late. The film is set twenty years after the end of World War I in which the nation of Tomainia was on the losing side, Adenoid Hynkel (Charles Chaplin) has risen to power as the ruthless dictator of the country. He believes in a pure Aryan state, and the decimation of the Jews. This situation is unknown to a simple, sweet and innocent Jewish-Tomainian barber (Charles Chaplin) who has since been hospitalized the result of a WWI battle. Upon his release, the barber, who had been suffering from memory loss about the war, is shown the new persecuted life of the Jews by many living in the Jewish ghetto, including a washerwoman named Hannah (Paulette Goddard), with whom he begins a relationship. The barber is ultimately spared such persecution by Commander Schultz (Reginald Gardiner), who he saved in that WWI battle. Jack Oakie as Napaloni, the Dictator of Bacteria (a spoof on Mussolini), appears late in the story and shares with Chaplin some of the brilliant comedic moments. Jack Oakie received a Supporting Role Oscar nomination and Chaplin a Best Actor nomination.
Mildred Pierce (1945) – July 21st
Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) works her way to the top, from waitress in a greasy diner to the wealthy owner of a successful restaurant chain, after husband Bert (Bruce Bennett) finds affection with Maggie Binderhof (Lee Patrick) and leaves Mildred to raise their daughters on her own. Realtor Wally Fay (Jack Carson) advises her while making numerous rebuffed passes and introduces her to Monte Baragon (Zachary Scott) whose property becomes the first of a chain of restaurants. The selfish and money-hungry elder daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) stoops to every level to get what she wants, when she pretends to be pregnant by wealthy Ted Forrester (John Compton) in order to cheat his family out of $10,000. Mildred has an affair with Monte and agrees to marry him in exchange for a third of her businesses. It soon becomes clear that something is going on between Veda and Monte. Meanwhile, Ida Corwin (Eve Arden) provides comedy relief with her sarcastic wit, as her no nonsense gal pal.
The Sundowners (1960) – August 18th
In the Australian Outback in the 1920s, the Carmody family, Paddy (Robert Mitchum), Ida (Deborah Kerr) and their teenage son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to keep moving. His friend Rupert Venneker (Peter Ustinov) is an educated but slightly mysterious Englishman and likable drifter, who is too irresponsible to have a family of his own, and therefore clings to the Carmody family. Mrs. Firth (Glynis Johns) is an awfully pleasant barmaid-innkeeper who loves men’s company and knows how to deal with them. Theres a sheep-shearing contest, the birth of a child, fist-fights, the Aussie’s love of beer, a game of two-up, drinking, gambling and a race horse as the film captures the essence of vagabond life down under whilst showing the exotic wild life in all its beauty and spender.
Broadway Serenade (1939) – September 15th
A singer Mary Hale (Jeanette MacDonald) and pianist/composer Jimmy Seymour (Lew Ayres) are a show biz couple, working the small joints in the Big Apple, hoping for a shot at the spotlights. Coincidentally, they both get a break at the same time; Jimmy earns a chance to pursue his music abroad, while Mary is cast in the road company of a big producer’s new show when wealthy backer Larry Bryant (Ian Hunter) spots Mary and is taken with her beauty and golden voice. Larry persuades Broadway producer Cornelius Collier Jr. (Frank Morgan) to put Mary in his show. By the time Mary returns to New York she’s already a star, while Jimmy’s career has gone nowhere, and he feels threatened by Mary’s success. Harriet Ingalls (Katharine Alexander) the show’s original star is pushed out, so quits promising to seek revenge and accuses Mary and Larry of having an affair. Jimmy’s jealousy over her supposed romance with the producer gets the better of him. This love story is set against a terrific musical score and packed with one hit song after another, makes Broadway Serenade a powerful, triumphant success.
King Kong (1933) – October 20th
Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is a film director full of energy who is famous for shooting animal pictures in remote and exotic locations. He needs to finish his latest movie and has the perfect location; Skull Island where, according to legend, there lives an awesome god-like beast named Kong. But he still needs to find a leading lady. This ’soon-to-be-unfortunate’ soul is an attractive unemployed New York woman, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). Denham’s plan is to shoot a variation of the Beauty and the Beast story, using Ann as his beauty and Kong as his beast. Everyone involved gets more than they bargained for when Ann is kidnapped by the island natives and offered as a sacrifice to Kong. She is kidnapped by the gigantic prehistoric ape and saved only by the courage of the ship’s mate Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), whilst avoiding all sorts of other creatures and beasts. Denham eventually captures Kong and takes the beast back to New York as a show to gratify the public curiosity in a theatre, from which he breaks out to go on a rampage in Manhattan. The suspense, pacing, sensuality and violence all adds up to a blood pumping experience with a climax on the Empire State Building. Though the special effects look primitive compared to today’s cinema technology, this was movie history in the making. For its time, every aspect is innovative. First-of-their-kind special effects, first-of-its-kind plot, famous performances and a final sequence that remains as an eye-popping cinematic experience. Had this never been made, the whole history of films may have taken a different course.
When Comedy was King (1960) – November 17th
A feature-length documentary devoted to the great clowns of silent comedy assembled by producer and film buff Robert Youngson. Hilarious glimpses into the past, giving credit to the great innovators of the slapstick visual comedy era of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Harry Landon, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, and many more. Featuring nostalgic footage from the films of the two major comedy studios of the era, Mack Sennett and Hal Roach, with the Keystone Kops and The Sennett Girls.
Roberta (1935) – December 8th
All-American football player and coach John Kent (Randolph Scot) tags along as Huck Haines (Fred Astaire) and his band, the Wabash Indianians travel to an engagement at Le Havre, in France, for a season in a Russian nightclub. However, there is a misunderstanding and the owner Alexander Petrovitch Moskovich Voyda (Luis Alberni) expects the arrival of an Indian band and he calls off their contract. John and company visit his aunt Aunt Minnie (Helen Westley), a dressmaker who found success in Paris, and the owner of the posh fashion house of Roberta, run by her assistant, Stephanie (Irene Dunne). Actually, she and her doorman cousin Ladislaw (Victor Varooni) are deposed Russian royalty. There they meet the singer Countess Scharwenka (Ginger Rogers) alias Huck’s old girl friend Elizabeth “Lizzie” Gatz, who gets the band a job at the Cafe Russe, an elegant Old Russian restaurant with its frescoes, and fashion show that incorporates Astaire and Rogers dancing. The finale includes a very blonde Lucille Ball as one of the models wearing a fashion gown. Meanwhile, Madame Roberta passes away and leaves the business to John and he goes into partnership with Stephanie, who find they’re interested in one another. But the visitation of Sophie Keel (Claire Dodd), a snobbish girl John once loved, complicates matters between him and Stephanie. The film is filled with not only beautiful music but the fashions of the day in gorgeous art deco settings. The musical program includes: “Let’s Begin” (sung by Fred Astaire and Candy Candido); “Russian Folk Song” (sung by Irene Dunne); “I’ll Be Hard to Handle” (sung by Ginger Rogers/danced by Astaire and Rogers); “Yesterdays” (sung by Irene Dunne); “I Won’t Dance” (sung by Rogers and Astaire with dance solo by Astaire); “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” (sung by Irene Dunne); “Lovely to Look At” (sung by Dunne, later reprised by Astaire and Rogers); “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” (instrumental dance by Astaire and Rogers); and “I Won’t Dance” (finale, danced by Astaire and Rogers).