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MOTORING GEMS FROM THE BFI

The British Film Institute’s database of free online viewing boasts cars to appeal to almost any enthusiast – and some of the most wonderfully bad acting since the last edition of Holby City. Here are just a few suggestions -

1955 – Davy Crockett

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-night-has-eyes-1955-online

This film is, quite simply, a work of genius and one that unconsciously anticipates Monty Python and The Holy Grail by two decades. In the mid-1950s Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett shows were favourites of young viewer on both sides of the Atlantic and so a Humberside police officer dons the famous “Dead Rodent” hat to give instructions on road safety. The sight of “Davy” among Rover P4s and “Phase” Hillman Minxs is one of the most bizarre I have ever witnessed, and that is before you see him riding his horse past Bedford CA ambulances and GPO Morris vans in the centre of Hull. All I can say is – watch and prepare to be amazed.

1955 – The Night Has Eyes

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-the-night-has-eyes-1955-online

A celebration of Percy Shaw’s famous contribution to road safety. The film is a fascinating exploration of how the Cat’s Eye was made and applied to the highway. Trivia fact - their average life-span was five years.

1963 – First for Everything

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-first-for-everything-1963-online

Or, parking meters and self-service garages make their first appearance in South West England. Here, a lady sportingly splendidly 1963-vintage glasses drives her equally magnificent Vauxhall Cresta PB to the new concrete Shell station in Plymouth. Meanwhile, the city’s residents are evidently confused by the new addtions to the street furniture. Yes, 55 years ago, a parking meter really was a talking point

1972 – The 100,000 Reliant

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-100000th-reliant-car-off-tamworth-production-line-1972-online

A 1972 news item that lasts for just a couple of minutes – but better 120 seconds of footage of Reliant celebrating their 100,000th car than 30 minutes of EastEnders. The star of the programme is, of course, the Regal which at that time was a year away from replacement by the Robin. Note also the somewhat patronising tones of the interviewer and the fact that the chassis had to the wheeled across the A5 from one side of the Tamworth plant to another.

1975 - Joe’s Way

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-joes-way-1975-online

This was meant to be a hard-hitting short film about the dangers of teenagers being in too much of a hurry to pay attention to the Green Cross Code. Unfortunately, the main horror now seems to be concerned with our hero’s disastrous fashion sense; at point he appears to be levitating above the pavement, such is the width of his flared trousers. And then he encounters a Renault 12 apparently driven by the runner-up in a “Frank Zappa Look-a-Like” contest…

1977 - Night Call

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-night-call-1977-online

A feature length public safety film that opens with a police Jaguar XJ6 and a GP in a Triumph 2000 Mk. II who is attending a motorway accident. He is then approached by a motoring journalist (the agreeable B-film leading man Barrie Ingham) who tells a tale of how he has been haunted by a mysterious black Ford Granada Mk. I…One of the many attractions of Night Call, asides from the groovy music score, is the footage of late-1970s traffic. At one point our hero takes to the wheel of a very early Rover 3500 SD1 and a Chrysler Alpine, passing Cortina Mk. IIIs, BLMC 1300GTs, Lancia Beta Berlinas and a traffic patrol Range Rover. The car park of the Motor Chef services is filled with Citroen GS Estates, Austin Allegro Mk. Is and Escort Mk. IIs; put simply for anyone of an age to recall the late 1970s, this is a feature that bears constant re-viewing.

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