Remembering the Mini Cine One

Star Wars: The Force Awakens title card

Last year we went out to the movies a total of eight times.

Other film viewings were via DVD, the web, VHS rips and downloads from the Internet Archive per USB, or whatever was showing on satellite TV — quite in stark contrast to how we watched movies back when I grew up: There was obviously no such thing as streaming; even VHS was still a few years off for us.

If you wanted to see a movie you would go to a bioscope cinema. Early-eighties Johannesburg offered several, and many were well within walking distance or along the bus route back after school.

One of these was the Mini Cine One in Hillbrow.

It was located at 49 Pretoria Street, above the Hillbrow Flea Market, and known as a “cult cinema” because it screened so-called “banned movies” that the Ster Kinekor or Nu Metro franchises wouldn’t. A Clockwork Orange, Pink Floyd: The Wall and Rocky Horror Picture Show were regular features.

Although the Mini Cine One may have been old, full of smokers and sometimes dirty, that didn’t matter much to us kids as we piled in to exceed seating capacity and take advantage of the 50c Saturday morning shows, often preceded by Looney Tunes / Merry Melodies, Hanna-Barbera or Disney cartoons and the awful Skippy the Kangaroo TV series.

School holidays were the best, with 50 cent shows every morning except Sundays.

Here’s the program schedule for the July/August 1983 holiday period.

Mini Cine One special morning shows

Of those listed above I went to see 1941, Caveman, Dumbo, Flash Gordon, The Fox And The Hound, Jaws 2, Mad Max II: The Road Warrior, The Party, The Pirate Movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Time After Time.

Further viewings at the Mine Cine One (as well as other cinemas) during the year include Battle Beyond The Stars, Blade Runner (again), Blue Thunder, The Cannonball Run, The Dark Crystal (twice), Flatfoot In Egypt, Flying High, Funny People II, The Great Muppet Caper, Heavy Metal, High Road To China, Jaws 3D, Mother, Jugs & Speed, Never Say Never Again, Octopussy, Popeye, Raiders Of The Lost Ark (for the 3rd  time), Rocky III, Sahara, Silent Movie, Silver Streak, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Stir Crazy, Superman III, Tootsie, Tron, and Yog, Monster from Space!

Also viewed again on the big screen was a double-feature of Star Wars + The Empire Strikes Back, in preparation for Revenge Return Of The Jedi which would come out later in the year.

Come to think of it, 1983 was a great year for movies and possibly the first one in which I saw a movie more than once while it was still on the cinema circuit. Ghostbusters, The Matrix and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were others I can recall offhand.

And it is here where our nostalgic circle closes.

Images and scans via LucasFilm,,

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