A Town Like Alice

Book coverIn 1956, the film A Town Like Alice, shot in Central Australia was released. Starring Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna, Jack Lee’s cinematic rendition of Neville Shute’s best selling novel of World War II made the name Alice Springs famous to an international market.

Filming involved everyone in the town. Reg Harris remembered he and his wife taking part:

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In fact Marge and I were two of the extras in the film. They came to Alice Springs – none of the stars were here of course, just a film crew came. I think they did a shot of Todd Street. Then of course the two major characters were supposed to meet at the Alice Springs airport. Well the airport in those days was just a little old shack, with fly-wired all around, only about twenty foot square…

So anyhow, eventually – and what they did in England, they mocked up the little airport reception area, and of course the two people met in that. When you look at the film, if you look through the windows of the building, right in the distance, little figures about half inch high are scurrying around – that’s us! God only knows why they even bothered to take it.

[Northern Territory Archives Service NTRS 226, TS 859 and NTRS 219, TP 1026, Reg Harris]

The ‘new’ Pioneer Picture Theatre, Alice Springs, c. 1940sIn 1956, Howard Truran was visiting Len Tuitt in time to attend the film’s opening at the Alice Springs Pioneer Open Air Theatre:

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So we were there at the world premiere and I met Peter Finch and I met Neville Shute – and Mrs Shute – who wrote the story of course – they were all there and I met them there and I had a few drinks with them. Then I met Peter Finch and Mrs Shute again with Len down at the oval – they came down one day, there was a sports day, but I met them all. And I actually went to the world premiere of A Town Like Alice so that was another little incident in Alice Springs.

[Northern Territory Archives Service NTRS 226 , TS520 and NTRS 219, TP 625, Howard Truran]

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