Model Cinesound Review Film Unit van

BY JESSICA BOLTON

The NFSA recently acquired a 1:43 scale die-cast Trax model car commemorating the Cinesound Review newsreel.

The FJ Holden panel vans were driven by daring newsreel filmmakers of the 1950s and immortalised in the classic Australian feature Newsfront, which was released 40 years ago this week.

Trax released the panel van in 1992 as part of their popular FJ Holden 40th anniversary set. The complete set also contained a sedan and utility vehicle. 

Red and blue text on the side panels reads 'Cinesound Review Film Unit' and 'The Voice of Australia'.

The voice of Australia

Cinesound Productions and the Cinesound Film Unit produced over 2,000 editions of the Cinesound Review weekly newsreel between 1931 and 1970. 

In the days before television, cinema newsreels screened before features and were an important source of news and current affairs.

The following clip from Overland Adventure: The Story of the 1954 Redex Reliability Trial shows the lengths to which newsreel filmmakers – and the drivers of the Cinesound Film Unit vans – went to get good footage for a story, in spite of the danger.

The footage documents the 15,450 km Redex car rally which took place over 18 days with 246 entrants driving over rough terrain and unsealed roads. Four Cinesound camera operators travelling in two film units captured the footage.

As seen in Newsfront

The classic Australian film Newsfront superbly re-creates the newsreel era of the 1940s and 50s. Released 40 years ago this week, the film features a sequence in which newsreel camera operator Len Maguire (played by Bill Hunter) and his assistant (Chris Haywood) are covering the 1953 Redex Reliability Car Trial in a panel van similar to the Cinesound Film Unit model featured above.

Newsfront was a big critical and commercial success and launched the international career of director Phillip Noyce. It won a then-record 8 AFI (Australian Film Institute) awards from 14 nominations and opened in Australia cinemas on 29 July 1978.