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NEWSREELS OF THE WEEK – PROMOTING THE GOODS

In addition to presenting the events of the day to patrons of ABC or Odeon cinemas before the ice creams went on sale, newsreel companies often specialised in producing short corporate promotional features. Here is a quintet of fine examples of the genre – films that are almost guaranteed to give you an instant craving for an Austin Seven Mini or a slice of Sunblest toast…

The Incredible Seven 1961

 

A film made in the days when a town would typically boast an Austin and Nuffield dealership with distinct brand loyalties for each franchise. The Incredible Seven was shot when the former was still using the revived pre-war name, a practice that BMC would abandon by 1962. The footage of the Mini being tested is, quite simply, priceless and we learn how a family initially seen looking glum at a bus stop have had their lives transformed by a new Austin Seven. In fact, car ownership has so affected dad that he has taken to wearing a cravat while the back shelf is ideal for ‘the radio and mum’s hat box’. The Mini darts past AEC Regents and Ford Zephyr-Six Mk. Is in London while the A20 is still incredibly traffic-free. And, as the jovial announcer states when the party reaches Dover, ‘you and your baby Austin are bound for fresh and exciting new horizons’.

 

Heinz Present - The World in A Can 1962 

 

A picture that is essential viewing for any devotee of fine lorries, ultra-swinging 1960s library music and, like me, with a fascination for British everyday life of the past. This was, incredible though the idea now seems, a time when supermarkets were sometimes regarded as vaguely glamorous…

 

Our Daily Bread 1962

The story opens with a peaceful village in which the sole traffic is a parked Morris Oxford Series V. Our narrator is Howard Marion Crawford, who often played mad army officers on British films and television, but here he is an utterly straightforward fellow as he guides us through the bread making process. Be warned – after just two minutes you will be utterly hooked by this realm of cream-painted ERF grain lorries, Morris FG delivery vans with those distinctive ‘three-penny bit’ cabs and bakers & confectioners that resemble a Peter and Jane book come to life. The streets are a blend of pre-war signage with very early 1960s Fine Fairs and it seems to be the law that every roundsman in a Commer van must sport a Brylcreemed quiff. And for fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, yes that is Jack “The Head Waiter at the Restaurant at The End of The Universe” May portraying the vicar.

 

Grist to the Mill 1963

Another promotional short for Sunblest Bread with pin-sharp colour cinematography and some quite incredible footage of Manchester traffic: Triumph TR3s, Morris Mini Vans and Jaguar Mk.2s. This is also an unmissable film for any enthusiast of buses, coaches and commercial vehicles while my favourite moment is the Rover P4 driving farmer who looks as though he is being played by Peter Sellers.

The Egg Chicks 1966 

 

Not a promotional film per se but I could not resist including this Movietone item that does look like a proto-Monty Python sketch. But no, 52 years ago, you too might have been visited by a Morris 1100 bearing the “Egg Chicks” and if your breakfast contained a certain dairy product you might even win a Premium Bond! The costumed ladies look mortified, some of the residents of suburbia answering the door seem understandably perturbed and the narrator’s script is an apparent reject from a Carry On film. Aren’t you glad you were not there?

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