Way back when, Wednesdays

We are not alone

In celebration of 40 years since it first release on 16 November 1977, plans are in motion to remaster the iconic science fiction adventure film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and re-screen it in cinemas. It used to take some months for a film released overseas to reach Australia. Only selected cinemas had the right to show certain films, so audiences flocked to the Hoyts Regent cinemas in the Adelaide Arcade.

On page 16 of the Leader Messenger dated 5 July 1978, Tea Tree Plaza advertised a promotion designed to tie in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To generate interest in the film, Tree Plaza hosted a display about UFOs, which was put together by the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, in conjunction with Hoyts cinemas. This promotion also featured a special event, which was a talk by a member of the Society, with the incentive of winning free passes to see Close Encounters.

Close encounters

At this time, people were receptive to new cinematic science fiction experiences. Steven Spielberg had terrified and thrilled audiences with Jaws in Australia in 1975. Star Wars had been monumental – it had set the bar for special effects and excitement, when it was released in Australia in October 1977. Everybody was waiting for the next blockbuster movie. Sessions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on evenings and weekends would book out in advance.

If you don’t know the story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is focuses on a group of people who experience some sort of paranormal activity associated with alien contact.

Two parallel stories are told. Strange phenomena and sightings of UFOs are happening around the world, which according to a scale devised by UFO researcher Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, is a close encounter of the first kind. A team of scientists and experts including French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter and cartographer David Laughlin, are investigating these related incidents. For example, military planes which disappeared in 1945 have suddenly reappeared in the desert but without their pilots.

In Muncie, Indiana, in the USA, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) refuses to accept conventional explanations for his encounter with an unidentified flying object. After this close encounter of the second kind, he becomes obsessed with pursuing the truth. Single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry have similar experiences.

Integral to the film’s plot is a musical sequence of five tones enabling humans and aliens to communicate. In India witnesses report that UFOs make these distinctive sounds. Both Roy and Jillian have repeated visions of a mountain and the five musical notes run through their minds. When the scientists broadcast the musical notes into space they receive a response, a series of numbers repeated over and over. Cartographer Laughlin, interprets this data as geographical coordinates, for the Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Defying a cover-up and military action by the American government, all of these characters follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact. The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of aliens as peaceful beings who wish to get to know humanity, rather than trying to take over the Earth or eat us. After their cinema experience, people could look up in the sky and think that perhaps we were not alone.

Alien

These were exciting times. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards but the film only won one, for cinematography. It also won several other film industry awards. A disco adaption of the five note sequence charted as high as 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978.

John Williams would write many other beautiful, memorable film soundtracks and be arguably the best known composer of classical music in modern times. Steven Spielberg would direct a trove of acclaimed and popular films, and become the highest grossing director by worldwide box office ($9.246 billion) wikipedia.org. What would be the next science fiction/fantasy blockbuster? Superman released in 1978, which made a star of Christopher Reeves.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Way back when, Wednesdays

Moonlight flicks in the Valley

Do you remember the Valley Line Drive-in? The Advertiser featured a story on closure of the Valleyline Drive-in Theatre on Tolley Road, St. Agnes, on page 111 of the edition dated Saturday 26 April 2003. After servicing the local area since the 1960s, the Valleyline drive-in closed on Sunday 4 May 2003. The final film to be shown was the comedy Anger Management starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. The site was sold to the Stratco hardware chain.

Valleyline closure

If you have never experienced a drive-in theatre, you did not have to buy individual tickets to see a film. Customers just paid for the cost of your car, which was more economical for families. You parked in a designated area within view of the big screen and fitted a speaker to your car. Later, sound streamed through the car radio. In summer, it was pleasant to sit outside. Given that many older cars had a bench seat in the front, rather than two bucket seats, you could fit an extra kid in your vehicle!

What are your special memories of the Valleyline and what films did you go and see there? Members of our library staff remember the drive in as being good fun “I took my wife there on our first date” and “People beeped their horns when something ‘juicy’ came on the screen.” Another staff member recalls her brother hiding friends in the boot, to get them into Valleyline. Then they set up chairs to watch the movie. Or “I took my boys and they would lie on the bonnet of the car where it was warm.”

Valleyline

The Valleyline drive-in theatre

Drive-ins made a lot of money from canteen sales. You could purchase drinks and foods such as hotdogs, fish and chips, and even steaks at some locations. Unhealthy snack foods might seem ordinary nowadays but in the 1950s and 1960s a hotdog was very American and pretty cool. Being a family friendly venue, staff would even heat up your baby’s bottle. The canteens generally faced the big screen and were fitted out with speakers so the customers did not miss out on the film. There were also children’s play areas, such as swings situated under the big screen.

In the United States drive-ins had been in existence since the world’s first Automobile Movie Theatre opened way back on 6 June 1933. It took an act of Parliament to bring the drive-in to South Australia. During the second half of 1954, members of the South Australian Parliament debated the controversial Places of Public Entertainment Act Amendment Bill. In an era where people dressed up to go out, some parliamentarians feared that there would be a decline in the standard of dress.  Dressing casually and comfortably while sitting in your car would appeal to families and it was a major selling point for the drive-in theatre. Then there was the issue of safeguarding the morality of South Australia’s young people. Some feared that young couples would behave inappropriately while alone in a darkened car in a public place.  Future Premier Don Dunstan, who was a young man at the time, spoke in support of the bill.

Adelaide became the second Australian city (after Melbourne) to get a drive-in theatre when the Blueline at West Beach opened on 28 December 1954.  Valleyline commenced business on Friday 3 December, 1965 and it could accommodate 383 cars  http://www.campbelltown.sa.gov.au  Records differ as to how may drive-in we had theatres in South Australia at the height of their popularity. The article from the Advertiser states that South Australia used to have 24 drive-ins. According to http://www.drive-insdownunder.com.au/australian/sa_modbury.htm South Australia used to have 37 drive-ins.  The City of Campbelltown website states that there were 15 suburban drive-ins just in Adelaide.

Today, there are only two drive-in theatres left in Adelaide. Wallis Cinemas still run the Mainline Drive-in at Gepps Cross, even after having to make costly repairs to the main building when it was damaged by fire in March this year.  Cooper Pedy also has a drive-in, which is operated by community volunteers.  It is worth noting that outdoor cinema has made a comeback!  Moonlight cinema in Botanic Park is still popular and suburban councils hold film screenings in local parks during the summer.

So what factors brought about the demise of this cultural icon?  When most people had black and white television, going to see a film in colour was a novelty. By the 1980s people could watch films on video at home.  It became socially acceptable to dress casually when you went to the cinema.  While some drive-ins had two screens, new multiplex cinemas opened in suburban Adelaide, offering patrons a greater choice of films that screened concurrently, from morning to evening.  During daylight saving, movies shown outdoors have to start later, which is inconvenient for families with young children. The quality of the picture and sound of a film shown at a drive-in theatre could not compete with a film projected in a modern cinema. For example, the screen would appear darker at the drive-in. As drive-in theatres aged and ticket sales fell, operators had to make the decision as to whether it was cost effective to upgrade the equipment and facilities.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

 

At the Movies – SA Filmmakers Panel Thurs 16 July

Lights, Camera, Action!

At the Movies

Learn about the how the film industry really works from those who work behind the scenes.

Learn more about the art of film making from South Australians who work in the industry. Discover how many people truly ‘make it’ in movieland. Our special guests will talk about making films and reveal what goes on behind the scenes of film sets.

Featuring:

  • Hugh Sullivan – Writer and Director, most recently for the film The Infinite Man and the short The Art of Darts and Dying
  • Christopher Houghton – Direct, most recently for Sons and Mothers and Touch
  • Anthony Frith – Filmmaker
  • Ben Crisp – Scriptwriter and Actor

Popcorn, wine & cheese supper provided.

Book online or phone 8397 7333 to attend this Red Carpet Event!

Did you know…about Godzilla?

Godzilla_(2014)_posterOn Thursday, Legendary Pictures will be bringing the monster Godzilla back to the big screen in an epic blockbuster that has been more than four years in the making. But what do you actually know about the titular monster?

 

 

 

The original Godzilla from 1954.

The original Godzilla from 1954.

The creation of Godzilla can be attributed to no single person, but rather a collaborative effort between Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, Director Ishiro Honda and special effects genius Eiji Tsubaraya. Inspired by the bombing of Hiroshima , Pacific Nuclear Tests and the incident involving the fishing boat Lucky Dragon 5 in addition films such as King Kong and The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms. These three men bought to life the story of an ancient creature, awakened and irradiated by atomic testing that proceeded to lay waste to Tokyo.

Godzilla as he appeared in 2004s Final Wars.
Godzilla as he appeared in 2004s Final Wars.

A serious film, the creature served as an allegory for nuclear weapons and the devastation they had wrought on Japan. The film was dubbed and re-cut for release in the West in 1956, re-titled as Godzilla – King of the Monsters. A box office smash in Japan and quite successful in the West, Godzilla would go on to star in a multitude of sequels, divided into the Showa (1954-1975), Heisie (1984-1995) and Millennium (1999-2004) series.

The first all-American made film was released 1998 by Sony/TriStar to somewhat mixed reactions. Will the Legendary Pictures effort prove to be more satisfying?

Before seeing the film, why not check out some of the old Japanese movies, or compare it to the TriStar effort, or why not check out some of the great Graphic Novels being produced by IDW Publishing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Are you counting down the number of sleeps until the upcoming epic fantasy film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is released in cinemas? Well, so is the City of Tea Tree Gully Library!

Join us on Monday, 18th July 2011 at Hoyts Cinema-Tea Tree Plaza at 6:30pm for a private showing of the final ‘Harry Potter’ movie, adapted from the book series by author JK Rowling.

“The end begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione go back to Hogwarts to find and destroy Voldemort’s final horcruxes, but when Voldemort finds out about their mission, their biggest battle begins and life as they know it will never be the same again.”

This movie is suitable for ages 12+ years. Parents please note, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

Bookings are essential. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased at the Library Customer Service Desk.

For more information please call us on (08) 8397 7333 or visit the Library and while you’re here, check out our Harry Potter display.

Recent films you might not know were based on books

Have you seen and enjoyed any of these movies from the past two years? Check out the books that inspired them…

The Blind Side – based on the book The Blind Side: evolution of a game by Michael Lewis

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney

Shutter Island – based on the book of the same title by Dennis Lehane

Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’hoole – based on the Guardians of Ga’hoole books by Kathryn Lasky

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – based on the book of the same title by Stieg Larsson (Part 1 of the Millennium Trilogy)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – based on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Dear John – based on the book of the same title by Nicholas Sparks

Eat, Pray, Love – based on the book Eat Pray Love: one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Click the links to place a hold on any of these great titles.

The worst movie ever made?

Michael Adams takes us through a twelve month  journey trolling the DVD and VHS racks to find the worst movie ever made in his new book; Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies: my year long quest to find and watch the worst movie ever made. With a foreword by cult director George A. Romero to add some clout, film professional reviewer Adams shows us modern, classic and just plain forgettable films subjecting them to his hilarious wit and cleverly devised criteria, whilst injecting a fair amount of behind the scenes goings on, providing an entertaining look at those movies that just should not have been made. So what is the worst film ever made? You tell us!