0Cribb Island is one of my most visited blogs. Recently a reader, Barbara Banvill, sent me images of the island’s Bellevue Theatre.
Barbara notes: ‘As unlikely as this may sound my father Joe Salt and a Mr. Turner owned the Bellevue picture theatre on Cribb Island. I have two old photos one of the theatre, a timber building and one of a display of picture posters that were probably showing at the time. One of the movies being The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’ve never been there, although if it is under the runway of the Brisbane Airport, then, in a sense, I have.’
From the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo, the Hunchback of Notre Damehas been filmed several times: In 1939 with Charles Laughton as Quasimodo and Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda. He gives a riveting, haunting performance in this atmospheric, Oscar-nominated version. There had been a silent movie previously shot in 1923 with Lon Chaney and this is the one shown on the Cribb Island poster. In 1957 there was another version with Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida. There was even a Disney cartoon version in 1996.
Unlike today, where movies have a simultaneous release in theatres throughout the world, early films, probably due to limited physical availability, were first distributed to the theatres in major capital cities, then to the smaller suburban theatres. Their popularity determined their length of their run. So, by the time The Hunchback of Notre Damereached the Bellevue Cinema on Cribb Island, it would probably have been in the late 1920s.