New Mentone Theatre, c1928.
The gala opening of the New Mentone Theatre, on the corner of Balcombe Road and Point Nepean Road, on Saturday 5 May 1928 was a glamorous affair according to contemporary press reports.
The new theatre provided "guests and patrons with the ultimate in comfort and beauty". Built by A E Lydford &Sons it boasted seating for over 800 patrons. A spacious foyer led to a wide stairway with brass rails, above which was a sumptuous lounge and dress circle for the patron who insisted on great comfort while at the movies. Down stairs in the auditorium were the front and back stalls.
It was the new theatre because this theatre was replacing the old skating rink in Brindisi Street which had served Mentone cinema patrons during the silent era. By 1928 the talkies had arrived and local people flocked to their fine theatre for over thirty years. Three different programs were provided each week with the same two features being shown on Friday and Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday. They were advertised in the local press and by eight foot posters pasted on the theatre wall facing Point Nepean Road.
Advertisment from Mordialloc News.
The Saturday matinees with their serials and the big weekend feature films were part of life for many locals in the thirties and forties when this cinema had its heyday. Many families had permanent seat bookings. Young men liked to take their girl friends to the back row of the stalls where they could cuddle and hold hands without people behind them being distracted from the movie.
At interval time there was usually a hurried exist of many patrons to the three milk bars established close by the theatre. There people would buy drinks, ice-cream and lollies. For people remaining within the theatre there was a kiosk both downstairs and upstairs where similar purchases could be made and in the auditorium itself a more limited stock of sweets and ice-cream were available from the lolly boys who carried a tray of items suspended by a strap around their necks. Other people took the opportunity provided by the pause between the films to stretch their legs outside the theatre, have a cigarette or to meet friends and chat.
After the advent of TV in 1956 attendances declined. The theatre was closed on September 25, 1961 and demolished the following year.
- Photograph of New Mentone Theatre courtesy of the Mordialloc Historical Society.
Article Cat. Historical Features
Article Ref. 54