Death In Brunswick

If you want any proof that Melbourne in 1990 is very different to what it is today, why not catch up on an old Classic Movie, Death in Brunswick, courtesy of SBS on Demand.

Death in Brunswick promo shot. Set in front of a Victorian workers cottage possibly (?) since demolished.

Strange but true – its set in Brunswick when there was an abundance of un-renovated Victorian workers cottages and some great shots of the magnificent shopping strip that is Sydney Road. The interior shots of the cottages with their basic amenity, hallway arches with decorative corbels and chintzy wallpaper are evocative of an era when Brunswick was full of European migrants and cheap rental houses for university students.

And there is also a total absence of the now omnipresent apartment blocks that dominate the tram lines along Sydney Road, Lygon and Nicholson Streets.

Carl Fitzgerald (Sam Neill) is the main character. He’s a 40 something underemployed chef, who has the fortune (or misfortune) of landing a job in a sleazy Sydney Road nightclub. Trouble follows Carl like a bad smell but the silver lining is the bar maid at the club Sophie Papafagos (Zoe Carides). Despite their age difference and the fact that Sophie is a good Greek Girl, they fall madly in love and have a passionate fling.

It’s not the world’s greatest movie but it has some great scenes and one liners. And let’s face it, what 20 something year old male wasn’t mad about Sophie back in the 90’s?

Progress Theatre in Reynard St, Coburg – Carl takes Sophie here on a date

The unfortunate Carl somehow manages to accidentally stab the dodgy kitchen hand Mustafa with a carving fork. He calls on his ever reliable best mate Dave (John Clark) who is the local grave digger, to help cover up the crime.

There’s a great scene in the Melbourne General Cemetery where the body is hidden in Mrs De Marche’s grave in the dark of night – the grave had been opened in readiness to accept Mr De Marce’s cadaver which was to be buried the next day.

There’s also some great one liners – Carl’s mother is having a heart attack so he calls the ambulance. Mum says “forget the ambulance – get a taxi, it’s cheaper”.

Then there’s one of the final scenes of the movie where Carl goes to Sophie’s parent’s home to ask for permission to marry her. “Don’t think of it as losing your daughter, as much as gaining a son”. To which Mr Papafagos lands a punch and knocks Carl out.

Carl asking for permission to marry

The Papafagos home, just off Victoria Street, Brunswick. Quite unique.

Brunswick is a bustling suburb, over the past few years it has seen rapid development including apartment blocks along the major arterial roads. Deeper into the suburb there is a great mixture of housing stocks dating back to the 1850’s, but it is particularly well represented by late Victorian terraces.

Very early bluestone house just off Lygon Street, Brunswick.

Single fronted late Victorian Cottages in Brunswick

Double fronted timber late Victorian terraces in Brunswick

Plenty of these in Brunswick – the old style corner store. Once an easy walk, now rare.

The great thing about the corner store was that you never had to walk too far to get the paper, the bread or the milk, or company. In the past there was the almost daily contact with fellow humans, a phenomena that is disappearing by the day.

Another feature of the Brunswick of the past was that you didn’t have to travel too far to gain a variety of employment – Brunswick was well known for its contribution to the textile clothing and footwear industries. There were also a number of large brick works such as Hoffman’s bricks and heavy industries such as John Welsh Pty Ltd.

This beautiful art-deco style building is now home for apartments but was once the home for manufacturers of large gears and cogs for heavy industry. It is located just down the road from the old Tip Top Bakery site, now also a large apartment complex.

The proud owner of this Iron house in Brunswick Street, Brunswick. Built in 1854 it has recently been painted in Dulux Tweed, half strength. The roofing material is a special profile made to match what was existing roof and cladding. Iron houses were extremely common during the early years of the gold rush when the massive increase in population caused a housing crisis. Very few survive today, especially in such good condition. There is an Iron House museum in South Melbourne.

Further up the road is this fabulous Art Deco inspired façade with matching wrought iron

A happy co-incidence in Lygon Street. Functional 45 Personal Training upstairs, and the funeral director at street level in case you don’t get enough exercise

Common in Brunswick is the Gate Keepers hut complete with fireplace and thunderbox close by. Both buildings are now redundant. Supa Group have several projects in construction at the moment in Brunswick.

Supa Group is about to commence construction of a ground floor extension to this home near Royal Park in Brunswick.

Supa Group are currently adding a ground floor extension to this home in Brunswick East