Footscray 1971: Festivities

Footscray 1971: Festivities
Access fees

Crowds line the footpath of the Grand Cinema in Footscray. A bicycle’s sign advertises a children’s talent quest grand final. Jack Perry (Zig) and Doug McKenzie (Zag) perform their Zig and Zag clown routine for a crowd of delighted children. The clip ends with Zig and Zag waving to the camera.

The Grand Theatre opened on the site of the Church of Christ on 15 November 1911 (watch footage of the church demolition to make way for the cinema). It remained open until 1987 when it was converted to a bingo club, which itself closed in the mid-2000s to be replaced by several retail stores. Summary by Poppy De Souza

Zig and Zag were Melbourne performers Jack Perry and Doug McKenzie who entertained children with their clown act for four decades. They appeared on the long-running Peters Fun Fair (1956-66) variety television show, sponsored by Peters Ice-Cream, and were a staple at Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival for 30 years, parading in ice-cream cone hats sponsored by Peters. They resigned as Kings of Moomba in 1999 after Today Tonight (1995-current) publicised Perry’s 1994 conviction of indecent assault of a minor 20 years earlier.

Title Synopsis

This unedited actuality footage of Footscray, Melbourne, in 1971 features the suburb’s main streets (including shopfronts, traffic and crowds), a Ferris wheel at the opening of Nicholson Mall, mothers and their children gathered for a baby competition, crowds outside the Grand Cinema and an entertaining performance by comic clown duo Jack Perry and Doug McKenzie (AKA Zig and Zag) in front of dozens of delighted children.

Title Curator's Notes

This footage was filmed by prominent Melbourne film lover and collector Harry Davidson for his friend Brian Davis, owner of the Grand Picture Palace in Footscray. The footage was screened at the Grand, which had opened 60 years earlier, possibly for its anniversary celebrations. In 1911, a Pathé Australian Animated Gazette film of the suburb was shown at the cinema’s opening. It is unusual to have actuality footage of the same suburb so many years apart and, when both are viewed together, it is remarkable to see the development of the suburb over that time.

Notes by Poppy De Souza