Tag Archives: Crawford Productions

Down these mean streets: The depiction of Melbourne as a ‘Noir City’ in Division 4

Police station - Farewell Little Chicago, ep 30 (1970)Melbourne-based Pulp Curry readers might be interested in the upcoming 3-day Screening Melbourne Symposium to be held in association with the Universities of Deakin, La Trobe, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT and Swinburne; and in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image & the Australian Film Institute, from February 22 to 24.

I’ll be co-presenting a paper with my friend and colleague, Dean Brandum, on Crawford Productions’ Division 4 series (1969-75) and its depiction of Melbourne as a ‘noir city’.

With Homicide a ratings hit on the Seven Network, Crawford Productions was commissioned by the Nine Network to produce a rival series, the even darker Division 4. Whereas Homicide presented a Melbourne where violent crime was a aberration to be corrected, Division 4’s police characters were shown as the last bastion of morality in a tabloid Melbourne of vice and organised crime. Accentuating this tone was Division 4’s aesthetic of high contrast monochrome depicting the shadowy laneways, sleazy clubs and pubs and ever threatening nightlife of the city, a ‘Noir City’, a vision rarely, if ever depicted on the screen as strongly and as consistently over the course of its 301 episodes.

This presentation is partly based on the research Dean and I did as recipients of the 2014 Australian Film Institute Research Collection’s research fellowship.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Contrabandits – Shark Bait

Contrabandits

This week’s Pulp Friday offering is the 1968 paperback tie in to the then popular Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV series, Contrabandits.

While Crawford Productions understandably gets most of the credit for kick starting Australia’s modern television industry in the mid-sixties with the long running police drama show, Homicide, it was not the only local organisation producing gritty crime TV.

Around the same time changes were also afoot at the ABC. New staff were bought on board and a department of television drama was created that produced a number of one-off and on-gong TV series. Among these was Contrabandits, the first episode of which screened on September 22 1967.

Contrabandits focused on the activities of Customs Special Branch, an elite law enforcement squad tasked with intercepting contraband in Sydney. The four mainstays of the squad were Chief Inspector Ted Hallan (played by British actor Denis Quilley), office girl Mardi Shiel (Janet Kingsbury) a university graduate, determined to succeed in a male dominated area, Bob Piper (John Bonney), a young wise cracking spiv, and tough guy, Jim Shurley (Ben Grabiel).

CBTwenty-nine episodes of Contradbandits were made. All of them are listed on the on-line archive of the former magazine, TV Eye. Themes included tackling drug runners and smugglers of various kinds, raiding opium dens in Kings Cross and dealing with illegal immigrants.… Read more