'FORTY THOUSAND HORSEMEN'
Presented by Famous Feature
Films and released by Universal,
Charles Chauvel's long awaited Australian production, "Forty Thou-
sand Horsemen," was given its first public screening at the Mayfair theatre last Thursday.
Because of its heroic, historic story, as much as for its magnitude and the cen-
sorship dispute about certain sections of it, no local production has ever been re- ceived with such interest. It is a pic
ture which Australia can salute. With fine dramatic power in the presentation of those epic desert battles which brought everlasting glory to the Australian Light
Horse in the first world war. Mr. Charles
Chauvel and his technicians and actors have given to the public at the right psychological moment a film that must thrill every Australian who sees it. It is a film that few have thought could have been produced in Australia.
There have been some good Australian films before this one, but "Forty Thousand Horsemen" has every right to be regarded as the first "really great Aus- tralian picture."
Never before has an Australian produ- cer-director attempted a mass spectacle on the scale revealed in "Forty Thousand Horsemen." The sequence representing the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba is as dynamic in its dramatic realism and sustained battle action as any imaginitive Hollywood or English producer could have made it. The battle for Gaza is splendidly recreated, but that spectacle of chargin horsemen finally reaching their objective with fierce hand-to-hand combat is something that has to be seen before it can be fully appreciated.
The photography is excellent, bringing an uncanny realism to those desert and battle sequences. The strictly military aspect of the story has been adroitly handled as has the Turkish aspect of the
Remembering that the picture was made just a few miles from Sydney - and this seems almost incredible at times - the atmosphere is astonishingly effec
tive. Most important of all is the laconic note of Australian casualness and humour running through the narrative. The film is as much a tribute to the horses of the Australian cavalry as it is to those men who rode them so spectacularly to victory. Its romance is slight, but neatly woven into the colourful texture of the campaign.
Mr. Chauvel avoids over-emphasis, but has been lavish in detail, full of action, in scenes such as where Red Gallagher escapes from prison only to be recap- tured and to escape again. The love scenes between him and Juliet Rouget are really fine. They grin by their naturalness and sincerity. Grant Taylor as Red Gallagher with "Chips" Rafferty and Pat Twohill (as his mates) are as typical a trio of easy-going, rollicking, hard-fighting Diggers as could be found anywhere. Their escapades furnish much of the humour of the production. Lanky, likeable "Chips" Rafferty is a "gift" in his role, just as Betty Bryant is another distinct find. Her Juliet is a piquant
and vivacious personality. The part of this young French girl caught in the vortex of war, is not a routine one. There is also a sensitive quality and a roughish- ness in Miss Bryant's acting that en- trances the appeal of her role. Out-
standing in the supporting cast are Albert Winn (with a superb portrait of the shrewd and wily Sheik Abu), Har-
vey Adams (excellent as the arro- gant and contemptuous Von Hansen),
and Eric Reiman (as the brutal and cynical Von Shciller). Joe Valli has a delightful scene with a demijohn of rum. Others included in a memorable production are Harry Abdy (the ill-fated Paul Roguet). Norman Maxwell (Ismet). John Fleeting (Captain Gordon). Keneth Brampton (German officer),
Charles Zoli (cafe proprietor), Pat Penny (Captain Seidl), Claud Turtin (Otham), and Theo Lianos (Abdul). The story is by Charles Chauvel, written in collaboration with the well-known Aus-
tralian novelist, E. V. Timms. (Mayfair Theatre.)