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Australian History

On This Day In Australia: In 1956, the film ‘A Town Like Alice’ premiered in Alice Springs

Premiere of A Town Like Alice

The world premiere of the movie A Town Like Alice was held at the Alice Springs open-air Pioneer Theatre (at what is now the YHA) on 24 July 1956.

Donning coats, scarves and blankets as protection from the chilly desert night, the ‘bush’ premiere was reportedly a relaxed occasion.

The event was so informal in fact that The Argus (28 July 1956) jokingly reported that “Hollywood would have been horrified by the easy-come-easy-go attitude of the townsfolk”.

The Australian Women’s Weekly described in beautiful detail the deckchairs, casual clothes and bright moonlight during the screening.

The Weekly also described the performance just before the intermission in which Western Arrernte men and women from Hermannsburg (Ntaria) sang the hymns ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘The Lord Has Ascended on High’ in Arrernte.

Present at the premiere were many dignitaries including Peter Finch (who brought as his date Beryl Oliver, the air hostess from his flight to Alice Springs), Nevil Shute, Jock Nelson and Gough Whitlam.

It was reported that in the final few minutes of the film, the people of Alice Springs expressed themselves in “a great ripple of amusement” when they saw themselves as extras.

One was local businessman Reg Harris, who was quite dismissive about the premiere in his oral history interview with Library & Archives NT (NTRS 226 TS 859) saying that he “always thought there was a bit of an overreaction — everyone raving on about this film A Town Like Alice — because it actually wasn’t about Alice Springs, it was a town like Alice”

Source: Library and Archives, NT

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


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