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FIVE CHILDREN IN NEW FILM
! "Bush Christmas" Is Story of
Five Australian children, the youngest aged seven, have just completed work in a film about Australia which will be shown throughout the
I HE film is "Bush Christmas," and the young actors are Helen Grieve, Morris Unicomb, Neza (Ebenezer) Saunders, Michael Vardley, and his brother Nicki, aged seven, the baby of the party.
Helen, a star at 13, played the patt of a daughter of one of the drovers in "The Overlanders." It «as while they were on location in the Northern Territory for this film ^ that Mr. Ralph Smart, director-pro i ter of "Bush Christmas," realised
Helen's talent and chose her for the leading role in his new film. Tvvclve jear-old Monis Unicomb takes the part of Helen's brother. He is an -experienced actor and radio artist,
and has played the lead in panto- mime at the Minerva Theatre.
Radio work has also been the back- ground of Michael Yardley and his joiing brother Nicholas, who is a , lery self possessed young man. The . pride of Nicki's life is the shaggy
pony he rides in the film, and he resents any suggestion that it is like a sheep, especially when his mates bleat as lie passes.
Michael takes the only character part in the film. He is a studious looking English evacuee, wearing large
All the other members of the cast are themselves - just natural Aus- tralians - especially dusky Neza Saunders. Neza was chosen from 500 aboriginal boys at the Woora- . bindi cattle station near Rockhamp- ton, Queensland, by Chips Rafferty, who is one of the horse-thieves in "Bush Christmas." -
In the scene where the children are leaving their country school for the Christmas holidays, Neza nearly came to grief. The other jubilant young- sters made their ponies jump over logs, and Neza, who is an excellent horse- man, tried to follow. Not being a jumper, his horse stopped dead and threw Neza off. He received severe concussion, but in two days he was about again.
"Bush Christmas" is the story of a prize blood mare stolen by cattle thieves. The children search for it during their Christmas holidays. They suffer hardships in the bush where they have to eat snakes and witchetty
grubs to keep alive. There are am- bushes and adventures in a deserted
township before the thieves are cap-
tured with the mare.
The locations were in the Blue Mountains and the Burragorang Valley. This beautiful and typically Australian scenery should appeal to overseas audiences, for whom "Bush Christmas" is primarily intended. .
During filming, school went on-for the young actors. Classes were held in the open air. School hours were adapted to suit the times of filming.
Camp fires, sing-songs, and the thrills of waterjng and grooming the ,horses helped to pass the leisure time.
Helen became so attached to her cream stallion that she bought him, and he now lives at Cronulla. An unrehearsed incident took place one day at lunch, when a black snake crawled over Helen's leg. Luckily Chips Rafferty went to the rescue, and Helen has the snake skin as a souvenir.
Of course there was a dog actor too, "Kanga." a kelpie, who now has six pups.
The directors had trouble in find- ing a mopoke for one of the shots. The Zoo couldn't help, but an adver- tisement brought a quick response. Now "Bing," the mopoke, is headed
"Bush Christmas" is being filmed for Gaumont British. It is the fore- runner of many films for children.
Mr. Arthur J. Rank heads an organisation, the Arthur J. Rank En- terprises, which gives particular atten- tion to instructional and entertaining films for children. Every Saturday morning special programmes arc shown in his chain of theatres in England, and more than 400,000 children belong to the film club.
The juvenile cast were all sorry when the shooting was over for "Bush Christmas." Now, like many other Australian children, they look forward to seeing it released for exhibition throughout the Commonwealth.