CC Cinema: How to Drive Strine (in the 1970s)

In the early 1970s, Australia’s Department of Transport put out a series of safe-driving films. Strine, of course, is Australian for “Australian”:

Paul’s post the other day with the 1973 review of the Austin Marina reminded me of this film, as I misremembered one of the demonstrator cars as a Marina—the gold one that shows up at 2:09. Nope, guess not, so what is it? The taillights remind me of those on the ~’65 Envoy, but this movie car is newer, and it’s on a continent halfway round the world. Still, I keep thinking it’s from somewhere in the GM constellation. I’m sure someone’ll pick it.

The traffic is remarkably sparse, and the advice is risibly outdated—speed up to merge at the same speed as traffic on the freeway? Check your mirrors and use your turn indicators?! Like, I’m so sure anybody’s really gonna do all that and post selfies on Fecebook while being infotained. God! »eyeroll«

Still, the picture and sound quality are really terrific, and so’s the scenery—with and without wheels under it. I’m a linguistics geek, so it’s interesting to hear this Australian version of the 1970s safety educational film narrator voice and accent, and sort of try to map the presentation onto the North American equivalents without being able to pick out specific things to go, “Who talks like that?” about.

I’m also a traffic system engineering geek, so I’m having fun noting the close similarities between Australian and U.S. freeways—the design and configuration of the signs in this film, for example, are closer to U.S. practice than the ones here and now in Canada. Clearly Australian roadway engineers looked closely (in a mirror) at the U.S. Interstate highway system.

Other fun stuff? Yep! At 5:37, we’re advised to “turn on your four-way emergency flashers, if you have them“. I just recently learnt from CC commenter Carl Kelsen that four-way flashers weren’t legal in Australia until 1973, the same year this film was made. Guess the DoT wanted to promote the new device and future-proof the film.

The freeway film was actually ninth in the series. Here’s the first one, with more close-ups; more sermonising, and more BANG! »sound of falling glass« action:

The music is certainly period, what with all the strummity-strum guitar and trumpets and suchlike. So are the cars, obviously; look in the –rearview– rear-vision mirror at 6:32.

It’s also interesting to see traffic full of 1960s-’70s American(ish, cousin) cars with amber rear turn signals, many of which double as reversing lamps. But don’t look too closely at them—that’s how they getchya; the next thing you know, you’re stuck being a socialist without any freedom.