Dyer, Frederick Simpson: A trip to the cinema

Dyer, Frederick Simpson: A trip to the cinema
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In a burst of colour, eight children of various ages happily stream out of a suburban house and pile (miraculously) into a car waiting outside. The film then cuts to the children getting out of the other side of the car and running across the street. An exterior of a Hoyts cinema reveals their destination, and a title card with the double bill matinee Pack Up Your Troubles indicates the 2pm screening.

On entering the cinema, the footage switches to black and white, which reveals the rows of chairs, and the stage in the front. The cinema screen fills with the picture. We then cut to inside the projection booth and watch the projectionists hard at work. From inside the projection booth, we can see the screen.

Outside the cinema the children climb back into the car. A point-of-view shot of the car driving down the street shows it pass by a tram down a suburban street. The car pulls up before cutting to the final shot of the children (almost 18 of them now) spilling from the car, back home after their day's outing. Summary by Poppy De Souza

This affectionate sequence has been shot and edited together beautifully. Dyer’s children and their friends happily play to the camera, adding the comic bookends to the sequence where they pile unselfconsciously in and out of the family car.

The scenes in the bio box (or projection booth) indicate Dyer’s interest in the behind-the-scenes workings of the cinema and he must have arranged with the theatre to be able to film inside it. The scenes of the projectionists winding the films, lacing up the projectors and the view of the screen from the projection booth are valuable because they provide an insight into the technical workings of an experience which is now taken for granted – seeing a movie.

The matinee screening that the children go to see included the feature-length English wartime comedy Pack Up Your Troubles, made in 1940.

Title Synopsis

An outing to the Saturday matinee screening of Pack Up Your Troubles (1940) at a local cinema is captured in black-and-white and colour by amateur movie maker Frederick Simpson Dyer.

Title Curator's Notes

Amateur movie maker Frederick Simpson Dyer made a number of 16mm film home movies covering the years 1936–1943 and recorded family events such as holidays, birthdays, and family outings. This self-contained sequence is one of the highlights of his footage. Edited together chronologically, and at times incredibly comic, it reveals the excitement of going to the cinema at a time when the moving image was not all pervasive, as it is today.

Notes by Poppy De Souza