I’m delighted to share a couple of fantastic film clips from 1960s Britain with you.
Shot on glowing 35mm Eastmancolor film, the Rank Organisation’s Look At Life series was designed as a lighter replacement for traditional cinema newsreels, as TV gave people easier access to visual news.
Flying to work
From 1959 to 1969, Look At Life crews roamed the UK (and beyond) documenting lifestyles, fashions, industry, technology and transportation. In 1964 they looked at the rise of business aviation in the UK, with Flying To Work..
.It’s simply incredible to see how business has developed in the last 50 years. While we think in terms of gleaming Gulfstreams and Citations, business aviation was very much prop driven when this clip was released in December 1964. The very first Hawker-Siddeley 125 had only been delivered in September of that year, and the first Learjet in October.
Naturally the HS-125 is featured, as is conversion of a BAC-111 airliner. But it’s the classically rounded piston singles and twins from De Havilland, Piper, Beech, Cessna and Scottish Aviation that steal the show.
The Big Takeoff
In 1966 Look At Life focused on Britain’s aviation industry, for The Big Takeoff.
With coverage of the 1966 Farnborough Show and aircraft production, it’s a wonderful snapshot of the nation’s surviving manufacturers. Despite the devastation of Defence White Papers and enforced amalgamations the industry was as innovative, creative and optimistic as ever. You’ll see Britten-Norman Islanders; the elegant VC-10 and BAC-111; original biz jet the HS-125; EE Lightning (or ‘Frightening’; Hawker-Siddeley’s new P-1127, soon to be known as ‘Harrier’; and even a Shorts Skyvan for you fans of the ‘Belfast Box’. (You know who you are!)
There’s also a look at Rolls-Royce jet production at Trent, and work on the British Concorde prototype at Filton. Pure plane porn! Enjoy.
Look At Life didn’t stop at just two aviation features. If you watch either of these clips in YouTube you’ll be given plenty of extra options – including City Of The Air, about London’s airports (which were reaching their absolute capacity as far back as 1964, apparently), Air Hostess from 1960, and Ticket to Tokyo from 1959.
The content – and the colour – make them well worth a look.