Australia Today: The fatal hour
This clip shows a foreman and his worker ending work early for the day. They rush down to the pub ‘as fast as a radio announcer after English humour magazines on mail day’ to get in before the doors shut at 6pm. Once inside, clientele are allowed 20 minute’s grace to finish their drinks before stumbling out onto the street and home, presumably to their wives.
The newsreel closes by asking the audience what their view is on extended drinking hours.
The last minute rush to the local drinking hole after work was commonly referred to as the ‘6 o’clock swill’ because men would consume heavy amounts of alcohol between the time they knocked off work and the time pubs closed at 6pm. Introduced as a temporary measure during the First World War, the 6 pm closing time for pubs was done in the interests of public morals, and in empathy with those fighting on the frontline. The 6 o’clock closing time, however, was made permanent in many states beyond the war and lasted for a number of decades, despite drinkers calling for extended opening hours.
The lasting effects of the 6 o’clock swill can possibly be seen in the enduring tradition of binge drinking and excess consumption, especially in the context of youth and mateship.
Again, Kathner uses humour and comedy as an element in his newsreel. The two workers who rush to the pub are presented as a comic duo with which the audience are positioned to identify.