Art & Design

   

The Astor Turns 75

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Melbourne’s grandest cinema turns 75 this weekend, and is celebrating with champagne, music, dancing and King Kong. We talk to Tara Judah from The Astor about choc ices, making those iconic posters and the cinema’s resident cat.

What makes The Astor different from other cinemas?
From the hand-made choc ices to the interior design to the programming of cult, classic and mainstream films, we try to provide a special atmosphere to view films. We’re the only single screen cinema left in Melbourne and one of only two cinemas in Australia to have a 70mm projector, which means we can show classics like 2001 and Ben Hur the way they were meant to be seen. And of course Marzipan helps, too.

Tell us about Marzipan, The Astor Cat.
Marzipan was found cowering under a truck on Chapel Street 19 years ago, and has been with us ever since. She lives at the cinema, and everyone who works here has cat feeding duties built into their roster. We have as many people come to do stories on Marzipan as on the cinema itself, but as a very independent cat we can’t guarantee she’ll turn up for the photo shoot. Marzipan once scared an audience half to death by running across the upstairs balustrade during a particularly tense seen in Poltergeist.

What goes into making The Astor’s famous posters?
It takes a lot of effort, and we try to find a balance in the programming. Monday nights are normally cult movies, we’re closed on Tuesdays, Thursdays to Saturdays tend to be more recent releases, and Sundays are classics. There are some films like Grindhouse and Rocky Horror that appear on every calender. George Florence, the owner, has always put together the poster, though all the staff have input and we also accept suggestions from the public. While we’d love to screen all the requests there are some we just can’t secure the rights to. Don’t expect to see Star Wars at The Astor anytime soon.

What can people expect at the 75th Anniversary this Sunday?
We’re really exciting about the evening, with doors opening at 6pm and champagne on arrival. They’ll be a big band playing, dancing and finger food in the foyer. We’ll be screening a few (secret) shorts before King Kong, and after the feature The Jazz Cats will be playing and people are welcome to stay and socialise.

Why King Kong?
The Astor’s gone through many changes over the years, starting out as livery stables, becoming a hard top cinema known as The Diamond and then The Rex before opening as The Astor in 1936. After being saved from demolition in the 60’s The Astor became a Greek language theatre in the 70’s before briefly closing. When George took over and re-opened The Astor in 1982, King Kong was the film screened at the premier. It seems fitting to use it on our 75th Birthday. We’ll be making extra quantities of banana choc tops.

The Astor’s 75th Anniversary is Sunday 3rd April from 6.00PM.
For more information and to book visit: www.astor-theatre.com.

To win a double pass to see Some Like It Hot and The Party double feature on Monday April 4th email events@milkbarmag.com.


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