Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Titles from the 1920s

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1920

Australasian Gazette – All for a Good Cause newsreel – c1920

A surf carnival at Bondi Beach in aid of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade features in this Australasian Gazette newsreel from approximately 1920.

Australasian Gazette – A Unique Audience newsreel – c1920

This 1920 Australasian Gazette newsreel shows injured soldiers from Caulfield Military Hospital attending a special matinee at Elsternwick Theatre.

Australasian Gazette – Conversion newsreel – c1920

In this 1920 newsreel, work commences at Victoria Parade for the electrification of the cable tram system of Collins Street, Melbourne.

Australasian Gazette – Dame Nellie Melba newsreel – c1920

This newsreel footage shows soprano Dame Nellie Melba, having arrived in Sydney from Vancouver on the passenger liner RMS Niagara after a world tour.

Australasian Gazette – In and around Hamilton District newsreel – c1920

This newsreel from approximately 1920 shows the orchard districts of Hamilton, Queensland. Workers pick, sort and pack peaches for transportation.

Australasian Gazette – Some Sunday Morning newsreel – c1920

This newsreel vividly captures 'some Sunday morning’ at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, showcasing 1920s swimming costumes, parasols and beach culture.

The Australian Steel Works sponsored film – c1920

This Made in Australia Council documentary, made circa 1920, tours a steel works factory in Newcastle to promote the Australian steel industry.

Berlei Corsets: Beautiful Lines of Woman Triumphant advertisement – c1920

This advertisement shows the fuller figures of the models as compared with models of today.

The Breaking of the Drought feature film – 1920

An outback family faces ruin through drought and a son corrupted by life in the big city.

City Traffic in Variable Moods newsreel – c1920

This newsreel item is an example of how simple camera techniques can dramatically alter the appearance and mood of scenes that are filmed.

From the Bush to the Bungalow documentary – 1920

Produced at a time when the timber industry was considered romantic, Bush Bungalow shows the power of nature and man’s ability to conquer it.

Kiddies of Queensland Enjoy Outings in their Billy Carts: Rockhampton newsreel – c1920

This newsreel novelty item from approximately 1920 features boys riding on the back of goats and children in billycarts on the streets of Rockhampton, Queensland.

On Our Selection feature film – 1920

On Our Selection is a landmark of the silent era in Australian cinema, and one of the key films in the career of Raymond Longford, the greatest director of that period.

A Shining Example sponsored film – c1920

Unlike other films produced by the Made in Australia Council, A Shining Example juxtaposes a tour of an Australian factory with a fictional narrative.

Steamboat Holidays on the Murray River documentary – c1920

This silent documentary shows the landscape and townships along the Murray River and is from a series made in the 1920s called See Australia First.

1921

Albion, Douglas: Children’s Party home movie – c1921

This beautiful example of early movie making in 1920s Australia was rediscovered by Douglas Albion decades after it was filmed.

Albion, Douglas: Wally’s Fifth Birthday Party home movie – c1921

Douglas Albion was about to throw this footage out when he heard of a search for source material to be used in the production of Our Century (1998).

Pearls and Savages documentary – 1921

This 1979 reconstruction of Frank Hurley’s 1921 adventure film Pearls and Savages showcases the peoples and cultures of the Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea.

1922

Australasian Gazette – Maoris Give Their War Cry newsreel – c1922

In this 1922 newsreel footage, a Maori rugby league team perform a haka war dance before playing a game against New South Wales.

Sewerage of a Great City: Melbourne sponsored film – c1922

By the time this sponsored documentary was made, over 166,000 homes and 70,000 people were, according to its intertitles, 'enjoying the benefits of sewerage’ in Melbourne.

Sorrento historical – c1922

The many attractions of the Victorian seaside town of Sorrento are promoted in this 1920s footage produced for the Sorrento Progress Association.

Sunshine Sally feature film – 1922

The working-class Sally falls in love with the adopted son of wealthy parents from whom she was kidnapped as a child.

The Sun Worshippers documentary – 1922

A scientific expedition to Wallal for the 1922 solar eclipse confirmed the bending of light by gravity predicted in Einstein’s 1915 General Theory of Relativity.

1923

Australasian Gazette – 1st Chatswood Erects a Tower and a Rope Suspension Bridge newsreel – c1923

In this newsreel from approximately 1923, the 1st Chatswood Boy Scouts erect a tower and suspension bridge and compete in a boxing match.

The Origin of Oil sponsored film – c1923

Made for the Shell Company of Australia, this industrial documentary traces the path of oil from its initial extraction to the petroleum relied on by consumers.

1924

Australasian Gazette – 1924 Melbourne Cup newsreel – 1924

This newsreel features highlights of the 1924 Melbourne Cup, including the horses entering the racetrack, crowds in the grandstand and the race, won by Backwood.

Australasian Gazette – A Seaplane Circles a Continent newsreel – 1924

In this extract from a 1924 documentary, A Seaplane Circles a Continent, a RAAF airplane arrives in St Kilda after circumnavigating Australia.

Australasian Gazette – Bon Voyage to Ex-Chief Justice, Sir William Cullen newsreel – c1924

This newsreel shows the 1924 farewell and departure from Sydney of the retired Chief Justice Sir William Cullen and Lady Cullen for an overseas trip.

Australasian Gazette – Pauline Frederick, World Famous Star of Stage and Screen newsreel – c1924

In this newsreel, stage and screen actress Pauline Frederick poses for the camera. It is an early example of the fascination Australians have with American actors.

Australasian Gazette – Sun Worshippers newsreel – c1924

This newsreel from approximately 1924 shows surfers and swimmers at Bondi Beach enjoying the first day of real summer weather of the season.

Boots and Shoes sponsored film – c1924

This film shows the inner workings of a boot and shoe factory, following the manufacturing process from cutting shoe patterns to the finished product.

Honest Toil March music – 1924

Award-winning Australian brass band puts Newcastle on the map.

Piano Making documentary – c1924

This early film offers insights into the workmanship involved in piano manufacture and boasts the slogan, ‘Wherever you trade, buy Australian Made’.

Sheep to Shop: Hosiery and Knitted Goods sponsored film – 1924

At one point in this promotional documentary, a machine miraculously 'absorbs yarn at one end and discharges socks at the other’!

Sheep to Shop: Woollen Goods sponsored film – 1924

Made inside a wool mill, this film covers making the yarn, weaving the fabrics, pressing the finished goods and packaging them for distribution nationwide.

South Melbourne Methodist Mission News sponsored film – c1924

From the early 20th century, Christian welfare organisations have used films like this to highlight their work within the Australian community.

1925

Albion, Douglas: Children’s Birthday Party home movie – c1925

This short segment is one of three reels of nitrate film chronicling significant events and celebrations in the Albion family during the early 1920s.

Australasian Gazette – Annual Christmas Treat newsreel – c1925

This segment from an old cinema newsreel shows Christmas celebrations for children at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney, including a live puppet show and Father Christmas handing out presents.

Australasian Gazette – Armistice Day, Melbourne newsreel – c1925

This newsreel clip from about 1925 shows the crowd gathered on the steps of Parliament House, Melbourne, for Armistice Day. 'The Last Post’ plays after two minutes of silence.

Australasian Gazette – Parliament Opens the New Session newsreel – 1925

In this newsreel from 1925, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Dudley de Chair, arrives by car to open Parliament House in Melbourne.

Australasian Gazette – Ship Building as Hobby newsreel – c1925

In this 1925 newsreel, builders of model passenger liners sail their boats on a pond in Moore Park, Sydney.

An Australian Invention: Falkiner Cane Harvester in Operation sponsored film – c1925

This film, possibly made by the Queensland Cane Growers Organisation, promotes the use of the mechanical harvester – a real innovation at the time.

Building a Motor Body sponsored film – c1925

The South Australian Government commissioned this promotional film to attract workers to the Woodville car plant; at the time, the second largest in the British Empire.

Building a Railway Engine sponsored film – c1925

The state government commissioned this short film showing work at the South Australian Railways engine construction and repair plant outside Adelaide.

Bushells Blue Label Tea: Bushells Tea Factory advertisement – c1925

This ad takes the form of an industrial documentary by showing the process of tea making.

Children’s Party, Boys Wrestling and Outdoor Performances home movie – c1925

Cameras were relatively expensive in the 1920s and mostly confined to families who could afford the new technology.

The Evolution of a Chocolate sponsored film – 1925

The chocolate factory which features in this film employed over 2,000 people and – according to the intertitles – was one of 'the best producers of chocolates’.

Factory to Farm: Making Agricultural Implements in Australia sponsored film – c1925

This film provides a visual record of the inner workings of an agricultural implements factory as well as the role of sheet metal workers and fitters and turners.

Lifesavers: Cryst-O-Mint Flavour advertisement – 1925

Running for over 17 minutes, this cinema advertisement is long compared to current standards.

Magnavox Wireless: Why Jones Chose a Magnavox advertisement – 1925

Compared to contemporary car radios, the Magnavox Wirelesses seems absurd because of its large size.

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