The Last Picture Show


Years ago, during the sixties, we lived in Oak Flats, a township whose layout was designed by Walter Burley Griffin, the American architect. This fact is not known to the outside world.

Oak Flats was known to Sydney siders during the twenties and thirties of the last century as a  place where they  went for the weekend and family holidays and it developed only very slowly. After the war migrants started to settle there among some older Australian families. Especially Germans, and among them, as a big proportion, Berliners could be found.

We did not have a TV in our early days in Australia, but we had a Community Hall in Oak Flats in which on Saturday nights movies were shown to an eager population.

Often the hall was full. We liked going there as it was cheap entertainment for us. In those days they always showed two movies. During the break I ran home and checked on the well being of our children who slept well in their cots unaware of their parents having fun without them. We lived with friends  in the same building and they would have been there in an emergency.

The proprietor of the cinema knew us well and as a gesture of gratitude gave us some complementary tickets. That was really nice of him.

But as the years passed and TV ownership increased people stayed away from the picture show. One day, they had a World War II drama advertised and I did not want to miss it. I can’t help it as this war was my greatest life experience and I’m interested in its causes and how people coped under the condition of war, be it as soldiers or as civilians. My wife, Uta, is the opposite. She, generally dislikes war movies, especially if they involve lots of fighting. She declined to go with me on this occasion and I decided to make use of a complementary ticket.

I have forgotten what movie it actually was and wanted to see only the first feature so Uta would not be too long on her own with the sleeping children. It was getting late after our dinner, which Australians call ‘tea’, and I had to rush in the dark to the community hall. The session had started already and I found a gloomy looking man behind the ticket window. His face became even longer when, instead of money, I offered him one of the complementary tickets. He told me, that I was the only patron and if nobody else would turn up he would only play the first reel. That is what happened. I was the only one and he stopped the movie. I went home disappointed.

But the owner of the cinema was even more disappointed and closed the picture show  after this bad evening; never to be opened again!

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7 thoughts on “The Last Picture Show

  1. Fortunately not all cinemas closed down. We still love to see a good movie in a cinema rather than on the TV screen. But I know a lot of cinema proprietors struggle to always attract a sufficient number of patrons to their picture shows.
    Am I right in assuming that the last picture show in Oak Flats was shown sometime in the 1960s? Wow, this goes back then for nearly fifty years! So we have plans to see another good movie in a cinema in Sydney. Always, looking forward to go to a picture show, especially with you, Berlioz!
    Love, Uta.

  2. those days!

    I remember that happening once in our town, there were not enough public so they changed the movie after running it for one day, and we went, bought ticket without checking and ended up watching a horrible movie!

    • Sorry, but my brain is blank at the moment. Good to remind me. I’m writing a story but in German. I might translate it or rewrite it in English. My wife wants me to write it in English but it is a German story. You can go to my wife’s blog at auntyuta.com and you will see what we are up too. I will write again. I’m not so diligent as you are. Thanks again

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