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SAVOY None Perth 


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636 Hay St, Perth IN closed



636 Hay St, Perth

Photograph of cinema

On 23 December 1955, Lionel Hart opened the second of his Perth venues, after the Liberty in 1954. This was a newsreel theatrette, in the basement of Betts and Betts in Hay St, where there had formerly been a billiard saloon. The 300 seat Savoy ran continuous ´hour shows', that is programmes of not less than an hour (though frequently slightly more), starting at 10 a.m. and continuing without a break till approx. 11 p.m., allowing patrons to enter and leave as they pleased, and to stay as long as they wished. Its appeal was particularly to shoppers and others with a short time to kill in the city, so it advertised ´nursery, powder rooms, free cloak and parcel depository' (West Australian, 23 December 1955).

For a while, Perth sustained two such shows - the Mayfair as well as the Savoy, but television brought this to an end, by providing similar programmes free in your own lounge room. So, at the Savoy, continuous programming of re-runs of successful feature films replaced the newsreel format: for instance, in January 1964 seven sessions per day of a ´3 Stooges' film, in January 1965 eight sessions per day of East of Eden. But even this was difficult to sustain, and the cinema drifted more and more into sensational programming, after the success of films such as London in the Raw, presented in June 1965, to which children under 16 were not admitted. By the time of the ´R' certificate legislation in 1972, the Savoy had a reputation for rather risque programmes, and was one of the first to convert to a policy of screening only R-rated movies, a policy with which it was very successful until the early eighties.

It closed briefly in 1983, then reverted to more conventional programming when taken over by John Marsden later that year, re-opening on 17 November 1983. When Marsden had difficulties with film supply, he sold it to Ken Hill who installed video projection and in February 1987 began to run it as a sex cinema, with topless usherettes. In 1991 it was closed temporarily and its equipment moved to Club X Cinema in the basement of the Club Emporium in Barrack St.

In 1997, the building that housed the old Savoy was still there, but the cinema staircase and entrance had been demolished, and shops extended across these gaps: access was still possible from the laneway behind to the derelict interior, as it was with the rest of the Savoy Hotel.

The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate, Macmillan 1989, pp.42-3
Building permit, Battye 1459 (Folio 2)
Max D. Bell, ´Perth Savoy', Kino, no.23, March 1988, pp.14-15
Max D. Bell, Perth: a cinema history, The Book Guild, Lewes, Sussex, 1986, p.92
Film Weekly, 6 July 1961, p.6, 2 December 1965, p.6
Film Weekly Directory, 1958/9 - 1971
Kino, no.20, June 1987, p.23; no.37, September 1991, p.27; no.38, December 1991, p.26
Sunday Times, 26 February 1978
West Australian, 1955 - 1997
1 exterior (Savoy & Paris), colour, 1981 (Bill Turner) Link to image
2 interiors, b&w, 1986 (Kino no.23, p.25)
1 exterior (Savoy Hotel), b&w, n.d., The Heritage of Western Australia: the Illustrated Register of the National Estate, Macmillan 1989, p.42