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Trams on the silver screen: Malcolm


Colin Friels at the controls in South Melbourne Depot yard during the filming of the 1986 production of ‘Malcolm’. Photograph TMSV archive.

This unusual vehicle is the ‘tram’ made and driven by the main character (played by Colin Friels) of the 1986 Australian film Malcolm, produced by Nadia Tass and David Parker.

It was constructed especially for the film, using wheels from a Melbourne bogie cable tram trailer, the apron and windshield of W3 class 658, two GE K35 controller casings, a Melbourne destination box and a couple of kitchen chairs. The relatively high turn of speed it displayed in the film was supplied courtesy of a small motorcycle engine powering the rear axle. Unfortunately, it can only go in one direction.

Malcolm is perhaps the archetypal ‘gunzel’ or extreme form of tram enthusiast — classically displayed in one scene of the film where he bores his love ‘interest’ with a monologue on the conversion of M&MTB W1 class trams to SW2 class.

However, in the penultimate scene of the film, it was clear that the police officers weren’t gunzels, as otherwise they would have known that No 658 had been scrapped a decade previously, and smelt a rat.

After filming was complete, this vehicle was donated by the producers to the TMSV, in recognition of the assistance provided in the film’s production.

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Last updated 3 January 2005.
Content copyright © Russell Jones 2001-5. Reproduced with permission.