Look at Life
From 1959-’69, these Rank Organisation travelogues were as much a part of an evening at the cinema as the B-feature and the newsreel, featuring thrilling footage of Porsche 356s patrolling autobahns or new Rover 2000s being put through their paces. Many were narrated by the velvet-voiced Tim Turner and they brilliantly capture that odd period when the last days of steam and gas-lit streets co-existed with a brave new world of flyovers and Morris Mini-minors.
In 1959’s The Market (with guest commentator Sid James in full Hancock’s Half Hour guise) there’s an Audax-series Hillman Minx parked outside a new supermarket, and in 1960’s Shopping By The Ton, Morris-commercial lorries pack the streets around Covent Garden. In fact, the fascination of any Look at Life extends far beyond the Transport boxset: these short films capture, in pinsharp colour, street scenes, motoring vignettes and even social mores of the 1960s. ‘Big Bedfords’ lumber along the early motorways, Brylcreemed pedestrians smoke Woodbines as they meander back to the office and Daimler DC27 ambulances overtake duffle-coated cyclists doing ‘The Knowledge.’ It is a world that now appears almost as remote as the Victorian era – and one of endless interest.