CE Miller & Co. Removals: Know Your Melbourne (1946)

CE Miller & Co. Removals: Know Your Melbourne (1946)
Film Ads Australia
Access fees

This is a full 1940s colour cinema advertisement for CE Miller & Co., a removalist and storage company based in Melbourne.

Titled Know Your Melbourne, the opening sequences of the ad could easily be mistaken for a tourism commercial.

The ad features shots of the Yarra River, Scotts Hotel, the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, Government House in Jolimont, the Botanical Gardens, the Old Treasury building, the State Library, Parliament House, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Flinders Street Station. It also provides some of the vital statistics about Melbourne's older civic buildings and streets around the inner city.

It then shifts focus to the suburbs of Melbourne with sweeping views of houses and men lifting furniture into a van. The narrator talks about Melburnians as people who love their homes and like to stay settled, before leading up to a strong recommendation to use the services of CE Miller & Co. when you move into a new house.

CE Miller & Co Cinema Advertisement: Know Your Melbourne synopsis

This colour cinema advertisement from around 1945 is for CE Miller and Company, a removal and storage business based in Melbourne and shows off Melbourne city and suburbs of the mid 1940s.

CE Miller & Co Cinema Advertisement: Know Your Melbourne curator's notes

This beautifully photographed advertisement was shot by Australian cinematographer Ross Wood. Wood worked as a cameraman in the 1940s and 50s on feature films, documentaries, advertisements and television productions. He also worked briefly for Fox Movietone and the Shell Film Unit. It is clear from this advertisement that Wood was an accomplished cameraman and contributes to this advertisement’s high quality production values. As a cinematographer, he worked on the reconstructed documentary The Back of Beyond (1954), the bush western Captain Thunderbolt (1955) and The Forerunner (1958) – about the building of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme.

Notes by Poppy De Souza


Education Notes

This clip shows a colour travelogue-style cinema advertisement for CE Miller & Co, a removalist and storage business. The advertisement was made in 1945. There is footage of Melbourne, including historic buildings such as the State Library, Parliament House and the Chamber of Commerce, and the narrator imparts information about the buildings’ histories. Scenes of the Yarra River are also shown. The shots move from public buildings to houses in Melbourne’s suburbs, and the narrator makes the connection between houses and moving house, saying 'Those who know, use CE Miller & Co’ over footage of company trucks and removalists.

Educational value points

  • The advertisement shows Melbourne as a city of beautiful gardens and thriving commerce and services. Such a mood of stability would have provided a welcome contrast to the destruction of cities in Europe and Asia in the Second World War (1939–45), which the audience would have seen in newsreels during the course of the War.
  • This 1945 cinema advertisement provides a valuable insight into the social history of Melbourne. The Melbourne shown is Anglo-Australian and culturally British, in contrast to the multicultural, cosmopolitan city that it is today. Following the Second World War, assisted migration was provided to Britons and then extended to refugees from Europe. Later, similar assisted passage agreements were made with the governments of other European countries, including Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia. By the beginning of the 1970s more than 2.5 million immigrants had settled in Australia, over two-thirds of them from Europe. It would be some time, however, before the Australian Government relaxed the White Australia Policy.
  • Melbourne is a designed city, unlike Sydney, and was planned in 1837 by the surveyor and artist Robert Hoddle (1794–1881). The centre of the city is laid out in a grid pattern, and all major streets are 30 m (90 feet) wide, designed to accommodate the bullock wagons that were used at that time. The wide streets were needed so that when the bullock teams did a right-hand turn, they did not hold up horse-drawn traffic.
  • The last part of the clip uses idealised messages to sell its product, such as 'For those who know’. Such advertising slogans are based on what is known as the 'unique selling proposition’, the result of research by a US advertising company in the 1940s and now an integral part of the theory and execution of advertising. The unique selling proposition makes a product or service stand out from its competitors, and offers a specific benefit to attract customers. The slogan for CE Miller & Co, removalists, is about knowing and recognising quality. The high-class visuals of the advertisement and the calm, friendly, authoritative voice-over also convey the messages of reassurance, professionalism and a certain snobbishness associated with 'being in the know’.
  • The soundtrack of the advertisement is simple, consisting of only two tracks: the voice-over and the music. When the advertisement was made in Melbourne in the mid-1940s, the number of soundtracks available to be mixed were restricted for two reasons: the post-production film facilities available were unsophisticated, and the amount of space for the soundtrack on the actual piece of film projected was limited. With modern digital technology, soundtracks in all forms of media are more complex and can be built up from many separate tracks, for example combining voices, voice-over, music, location sound, studio sound and generated sound effects.
  • The cinematic style of this advertisement, although of a high quality for the time, was dictated by the restrictions of the camera equipment available to Australian film production houses in the 1940s. The camera operator, Ross Wood Senior, used pans and tilts to give movement and flow to the shots in the advertisement. This was because dollies (wheeled camera mounts that allow both tracking and trucking shots) were large, heavy, cumbersome, only used in studios and rarely available in Australia at that time.

Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia

Production Company:
Film Ads Australia
Barry Scott
Cinematographer/Director of Photography:
Ross Wood