Look At Life – London newsreel bonanza

I’ve just come across a treasure trove on You Tube of old Rank Look At Life newsreels, each ten-minutes long and looking at different aspects of London life. There are some real treats to be found, but here are a few I enjoyed when I should have been working, or at least making a cup of tea.

Members only, 1965 – inside London’s private clubs

Coffee bar, 1959 – the new world of Soho’s coffee shops

Goodbye, Piccadilly, 1967 – a portraiof Piccadilly Circus

In Gear, 1967 – an iconoclastic look at Swinging London

Top People, 1960 – the crazy world of highrise living

Shopping By The Ton, 1960 – Covent Garden, Smithfield and Billingsgate markets

Report on a River, 1963 – a love letter to the Thames

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20 responses to “Look At Life – London newsreel bonanza

  1. These are brilliant!

  2. Yoy can get these on dvd as well. I have them. Very good. Especiallly the Members Clubs one.

  3. Wonderful aren’t they? Had seen they were available on DVD but never forked out for it.

  4. Douglas Hayward

    Absolutely wonderful – a brilliant find!

  5. There’s a superb Look At Life on supermarkets narrated by Sid James, which features a woman buying a tin of bees:

  6. I just spoke to my Dad who I sent them to and he said he used to go to one of the coffee bars in the Soho coffee bars. He started waxing lyrical about the 50s as he does…

    Thanks they are just lovely historical documents!

  7. Douglas Hayward

    Look at the tube in the rush hour in Goodbye Piccadilly – half empty by today’s standards … you could probably get a seat if you were prepared to sit in the smoking carriage …

  8. Love the terrible acting in the coffee bar clip. Have you read Daniel Farson’s books about Soho in the 50s? “Iron Foot Jack” pops up there as well.

  9. Great stuff!
    The Health and Safety would break into a sweat if they watched the Top People clip. The “There won’t be any traffic jams in tomorrow’s city” made me laugh.

  10. Great Stuff Peter :-)
    I work alot at New Covent Garden at Nine Elms and love any old market footage and photos and the ‘shopping by the ton’ episode is superb I hadnt seen it before. I still remember the old market from the 60′s when I was a child. NB if anyone interested there is excellent backdrop footage of the old CG market in Hitchcocks ‘Frenzy’ which is still a very good film in its own right.

  11. Lovely Saturday afternoon treat! Thank you.

    I have a couple of ‘Look at Life’ DVDs, but not all of these are on those.

  12. Wonderful Thank you for posting them !

  13. BBC4 are currently featuring many of the Look at Life Films in their series Britain on Film. I am a self confessed Look at Life Addict and I am the proud owner of the 5 volumes released by Network featuring Transport, Military, Science, Sport and Cultural Heritage as well as the earlier release on London. Glad to find other Look at Life fans on here too – the vibrant colour gives it such rich feeling that although 50 years old, you could be there. The world wasn’t black and white back in the day! It’s amazing to see how things have changed in this time.

  14. I’m hooked on these been shown on BBC4. such a wonderful record of our history. Even the sometimes dodgy commentary is so typical of the era. Love it. As an aside does anyone know what the intro music is called or who played it?

    • I am too looking for the intro music used on the bbc version of the Look at Life show that they are showing at the moment – it’s driving me mad.

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  17. The BBC intro music to “Britain On Film” is called “Another Place by Neil Richardson on the Cavendish Production Library.

  18. ooops please correct that title above too “Another Happening”, not “Another Place” thank you.

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