The Victory Opens (1921)


Melbourne’s second largest picture theatre, The Victory, opened on 18 April, 1921. The original design by architect Cecil Keeley included a crush hall and roof gardens. The first film screened was Conrad in Quest of His Youth, starring Thomas Meighan and directed by William C. de Mille, the lesser-known brother of Cecil B. Demille and father of American dancer and choreographer Agnes Demille.

Two articles from The Argus tell the story.

The Argus April 19, 1921 p8

Although St. Kilda had already two picture theatres, it was resolved some time ago to build a third theatre, designed on modern principles, and last night this new theatre – The Victory – was opened.

With a holding capacity of 3000 people, it is, with one exception, the largest picture-house in Melbourne and suburbs. From every set there is an admirable view of the screen. Moreover, the acoustic properties are excellent, and this is an important consideration, as enjoyment in a picture programme is to a great extent dependent upon the orchestral accompaniment…

The Argus April 21, 1921 p8

“…The new Victory Theatre at St. Kilda, which was open on Monday evening, denotes a great advance in the architecture of suburban houses. …Simplicity is the leading note in the design. Being lofty there should be no difficulty in keeping the theatre cool even in the height of summer, and in the ventilating plant that has been installed the most modern principles have been combined. Comfortable armchairs are provided in every part of the house, and a perfect view of the screen is obtainable from everywhere. The expenditure on the seating alone would in the early days of the cinema have been almost sufficient for a complete installation of the ‘silent drama’. The acoustic properties of the new theatre are excellent. Every word spoken from the stage by one of the directors on Monday was distinctly audible at the back of the circle. With the Victory Theatre there are now four picture houses in St. Kilda, while dotted around and in close proximity there are many others. Prahan (sic) has three, Elwood one, and within the past few weeks a big theatre was also opened in Brighton…