238 Pitt Street,
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The Variety Theatre was a storefont theatre in centre city Sydney that opened on 28th September 1934. The program was a selection of short films running continuously from 10am to 11pm. The Variety Theatre billed itself as “Sydney’s Most Modern Theatrette”. Programmes of shorts proved difficult to compete with the star laden features in the area so in 1935 the Variety Theatre switched to features, now billing itself as “Sydney’s Home Of The Best And Most Unusual Films”. Typical programs were double bills of Warner Bros. and MGM classics with an occasional first run.
In the postwar years foreign films were being imported and many did very good business. The Variety Theatre now ran art films such as Moira Shearer in “The Red Shoes” and foreign classics like Rossellini’s “Open City”. In December 1954 the programme was “Secret Conclave; the story of Pope Pius X”, plus Doc Sternberg’s “Theatre In Australia”. At 2pm fire broke out behind the stage and the theatre was quickly evacuated. The projectionist ran into the street with his clothes on fire and was the only casualty. Theatre owner Bert Goldsmid had other businesses above the theatre including industrial appliances and commercial cleaning. Stored chemicals exploded and it became a major fire that destroyed the building.
In later years that section of Pitt Street including the Liberty Theatre and Gala Theatres was demolished.
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The Sydney Morning Herald reported that police were considering arson as another fire broke out across Pitt Street in the Royal Arcade, full of small shops. This was all on Christmas eve so the street and stores were crowded.