The cinema was situated in the inner west suburb of Five Dock.
Originally known as the Victory Theatre, it opened on December 9, 1925, with around 1200 seats.
The Victory closed in 1959, a dwindling leftover from the pre-TV days, which began broadcasting in 1956.
A lot of suburban cinemas in Sydney were closing at this time.
More and more punters were staying home to watch TV instead of taking themselves to the big screen.
In this competitive environment, the Ca’d’Or suburban cinema prevailed, but not before it underwent a stint as an Italian wedding reception centre.
Domenico bought the Victory building in 1959, and subsequently converted it for weddings.
It was named Ca’d’Or (Golden House) after the famed palace in Venice.
Ca’d’Or opened with a grand ball, setting the precedent for the massive Italian weddings and dances to come, which were often packed with up to 500 people.
The reception centre was big within the Italian community and beyond.
“There’s an awful lot of people who went to a wedding there,” Zappia said.
“It was quite a significant thing for the Italian community.”
Zappia provided a beautiful photograph of his father Domenico, shaking hands with disappeared former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.
Another photo depicts the wedding of Zappia’s aunt, with Ca’d’Or co-owner Frances walking behind, escorted by her father.
Ca’d’Or ceased to be a wedding centre in 1975, when the Zappia family leased the building to Franco Zeccola, who ran it as a hugely popular Italian movie theatre.
When Zeccola “shot through” in 1979, Ca’d’Or cinema became the Zappia family business.
With capacity to seat around 950 people, Domenico, Frances and Joe ran the show, with Domenico managing, Frances in the ticket office and 20-something Joe as usher.
“All of us took turns in the candy bar,” Zappia remembered.
“There was an old man who kept the projection machines running.
“It was an old tech cinema, with movie reels and projectors, and carbon rods.
“You burnt a rod of chemicals to make the light projections."
The cinema projected popular and mainstream films, with Italian films on Sundays only.
“We’d do double features, with a twenty minute break between the films,” Zappia said.
“So they were big events!
“The popularity varied depending on the film.
“Some nights there’d be hundreds of people, some nights just a handful.
“The Italian film peak was in the years before us, when it was huge.
“When Zeccola ran the cinema it was Italian films only.
“By the time it was our turn, the Italian film supply had dried up, and interest waned.
“But if there was a recent film from Italy it was still very popular.”
Zappia also worked at the bar, which was run with an Italian ticket system in place.
“We used to get people lining up for coffees,” he said.
Zappia would pick up the reels from the film distributor, plan the screening times and take the copy out before deadline to get the sessions listed in the local paper.
His famed film poster collection is a gorgeous memento from the era.
The posters are in pristine condition, having been held in storage for many years.
Although Zappia’s collection is largely circumstantial, he says there are a lot of die-hard collectors out there and it’s interesting to see which posters are sought after.
Zappia’s collection includes blockbusters such as Mad Max, superhero films like Batman and Spiderman, Italian horror classics by Dario Argento, the ever-popular Jaws and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The Ca’d’Or cinema shut in 1983, with Sophie’s Choice being the last film it ever screened.
A photograph depicts Joe placing the final letters above the door on Sunday, November 13, 1983: closing night.
Reasons for the closure were varied.
“There were a lot of factors at play which made it quite a difficult business to run,” Zappia said.
“We were competing with video.
“And the young people preferred to go into the city to see films, to the multiplexes.”
The age of suburban cinema was coming to an end.
Today, Randwick Ritz and the Cremorne Orpheum theatres are two of the few remaining exemplars of suburban cinematic magic.
Both these facilities are art-deco in style, with striking line work and symmetries incorporated into the facade, as was typical of 1930s fashion architecture.
The Ca’d’Or cinema was less grandiose in its exterior, but nonetheless maintained an awe-inspiring ambience.
Following closure, Zappia’s father returned to work in various wedding reception centres.
He concluded his career by opening a cafe in Strathfield, which went by the same name: Ca’d’Or, the house of gold.
The Zappia family legacy lives on in Joe’s famed vintage poster collection.
These images throwback to the early nostalgic days of cinema: the colour, the lights, mystery and magic, alive and brewing in a building in Sydney suburbia.