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Newsfront (1978)

Set in Australia in the late 1940s, before the coming of television, Newsfront opens with a spectacular montage of newsreel footage which establishes a rivalry between two newsreel companies – Cinetone and Newsco.

The leading cameraman for Cinetone is Len Maguire (Bill Hunter). Around him are his ambitious brother, Frank (Gerard Kennedy), Frank’s girlfriend Amy (Wendy Hughes) and the ‘hard-but-fair’ studio boss, A.G. Marwood (Don Crosby), who represent some of the particular traits of working Australians.

Newsco is personified by an irascible cameraman, Charlie Henderson (John Ewart).

The film moves through several time spans, each focusing on a major item of news in Australian history: the referendum to ban the Communist Party, the Redex round-Australia car trial, the Maitland floods, and the Olympic Games.

Parallel with this are the events of Len’s personal life, including the birth of his children and the deteriorating relationship with his strict Catholic wife, his brother’s decision to head for America, and his relationship with his young assistant Chris (Chris Haywood), an English migrant whose fling with a girl in the outback (Lorna Lesley) leads to a quick marriage before the lad dies accidentally during the floods.

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By the mid-1950s, television has arrived and Newsco has been forced to merge with its rival, though Len – on the brink of resignation and in a now unsatisfying relationship with Amy – is offered a major opportunity to film the Olympic Games in Melbourne.

Finally, Len finds himself alone, with his integrity intact, as all about him have fallen, and he marches off to an uncertain future holding the most valuable scoop footage he has ever shot.

Newsfront was constructed from genuine newsreel footage and newly-filmed footage which was integrated with seamless effect into a continuous narrative.

Len Maguire
Bill Hunter
Amy McKenzie

Wendy Hughes
Frank Maguire

Gerard Kennedy
Chris Hewitt

Chris Haywood
Charlie Henderson

John Ewart
Fay Maguire

Angela Punch
A.G. Marwood

Don Crosby
Geoff (The Editor)

Bryan Brown
Cliff (Production Manager)

John Clayton

Director
Phillip Noyce