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Video clip synopsis – Ray Edmondson provides a history of Cinesound. Liz Jacka talks abut the differences between newsreels and today's TV news.
Year of production - 1932
Duration - 2min 20sec
Tags - broadcasting, current affairs programs, identity, newsreels, television, see all tags


Cinesound Review

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About the Video Clip


The interviews with Ray Edmondson and Liz Jacka were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Ray Edmondson is the Former Deputy Director of the National Film and Sound Archive and is now honorary Curator Emeritus. Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


Inquiry Questions

  • What were the differing experiences of various groups during the interwar period?
  • What was the contribution and significance of at least ONE Australian, ONE important event and ONE political development during the interwar period?

A student:
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past
5.8 locates, selects and organises relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry.

Students Learn About:

Section C: Event
The significance of at least ONE important event
– the introduction of ‘talkies’

Students Learn To:

  • outline the main features and/or developments of the chosen event
  • explain the significance of the event to Australian history
This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies website for more information.

Background Information


In the 1920s new sound technologies increased the cost of film production, putting Australia’s small-scale 'silent picture’ newsreel producers out of business. For a time, cinema newsreels were imported. Instead of viewing news about Australia, local audiences watched foreign newsreels, mostly from Britain and the United States of America.

Spotting an opportunity, in January 1931 the US-based Fox Movietone News began its weekly Australian edition newsreel. Later that year, the Melbourne Herald newspaper joined with Herschell’s Films to produce The Herald Newsreel.

The other major newsreel was the Cinesound Review, part of Cinesound Productions which 'was associated with Greater Union Theatres Limited’. Cinesound rushed into newsreel production in time to cover the 1931 Melbourne Cup. Within a year Cinesound absorbed The Herald Newsreel, to form the Herald Cinesound News Review. (Bertrand 159)

There were 2031 editions of the Herald Cinesound News Review (commonly known as the Cinesound Review) produced in Australia over a 40 year period, prior to its merger with Fox Movietone News in 1970.

Classroom Activities

  1. What is the difference between newsreels and television news?
  2. Explain the ways in which the introduction of talkies changed newsreel production in Australia.
    1. According to Liz Jacka, why are the newsreels of the past valuable resources for students today?
  3. Find out about Harvey Smith. What did he invent? Write a paragraph summary about him.
  4. Why was Cinesound Review set up?

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.