Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Bowles, K. 2011, ''The last Bemboka picture show: 16mm cinema as rural community fundraiser in the 1950s'', in D. Biltereyst, R. G. Maltby & P. Meers (eds), Explorations in New Cinema History: Approaches and Case Studies, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA. pp. 310-321.


[extract] As Australian cinema history has become more sensitive to the history of film exhibition, its keynote stories have come under review. The assumed impact of television on theatrical exhibition, after its launch in Sydney and Melbourne in 1956, is one of these stories; related to it is the more long-standing assumption that an exhibition market dominated in the 1950s by Hollywood product was the outcome of coercive business practices that had all but crushed local production. The impression left by this account is that Australian audiences were unwilling accomplices to America's success, and that Australian communities were culturally diminished by this. This larger argument about the effect of media consumption on audience preferences is easy to assert but difficult to prove. As yet, we know relatively little about the social and emotional impact on 1950s audiences of their long-term diet of foreign product, both in theatres and via imported television shows, and a substantial investment in oral history will be needed to address this.