Tonight at O’Brien’s
Savvy theatre operators were quick to recognise the power of the local when it came to filling the house. Many cinemas employed cameramen to record local events, rapidly processed the films, which were then on the cinema screen within days – and people flocked to see themselves.
In this case O’Brien’s Empire Theatre, Dunedin’s De Luxe Picture House, filmed the 1921 Anzac Day Parade (25 April) and the unveiling of the North East Valley Memorial. By 28 April the Otago Daily Times carried the advertisement “Special Announcement Re Anzac Day. Pictures of the unveiling, the wreaths, the children, the parade of Anzacs, the councillors and the crowds etc would be shown that night at O’Brien’s”.
This was a remarkable achievement when you consider the necessary developing, printing, processing, editing and delivery that had to occur to make these events happen so quickly.
The Diggers’ March in Sydney
In April 1938, several thousand New Zealand “diggers” sailed from Wellington for Sydney, where they reunited with their Australian “cobbers” of 1914 – 1918 in a grand Anzac Day procession through the city.
The huge march from the Cenotaph to the Domain, where a commemoration service was held, was part of Australia’s 150th anniversary celebrations and some 50,000 returned servicemen took part – with an estimated half a million people lining the Sydney streets.
In this live radio broadcast from the Wellington waterfront, Station 2ZB announcers – who were veterans themselves – capture the cheering, bands and excitement on the docks. New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage farewells the old soldiers as they board former World War One troopships – ‘the Monowai’ and ‘the Maunganui’ – for the trip across the Tasman.