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For Six People, The
Past Came Back
An old film last week turned back the years for a small group of
'T'HE house lights
?* dimmed in a Sydney film company's private theatrette one afternoon last week and an audience of six 'settled into their
plush armchairs for a journey into the past.
A title flashed on the screen, and a face. "The Kid Stakes." The face, cartooned, was one you see every week in "The Sunday Herald" Playtime Sec- tion-mischievous, appealing, with a defiant lock of hair falling across the brow.
Fatty Finn. The same age- less Fatty whose impish tricks will make you chuckle to-day. Yet 25 years older. For as the spool unwound behind the glass screen of the projection room the years unwound with it-and it was 1927 again.
Do you remember 1927, the year that Fatty Finn became a film star and "The Kid Stakes" brought his lovable gang to the screen?
It was the year that Federal Parliament moved into its impressive new home in Can- berra, the year that the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and his Queen) came to visit us.
It was the year that the Sydney ferryboat Greycliffe and the steamer Tahiti collided in the harbour and many lives were lost. It was a time when our State Government trams were running special services to Randwick races and the fare by ordinary tram (includ- ing admittance to the course) was 2/2 return, and by FIRST CLASS tram 3/8.
Remember? Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen were marching through the mire of "What Price Glory?" And Rod Ia Rocque and Dolores del Rio held sway in the romantic pictures.
But the film of the year foi Sydney-for Australia, in- deed-was "The Kid Stakes," with Sydney child actors and actresses playing their parts against a background of fami- liar scenes. Remember?
THREE in that time-jour
neying audience remem- bered. Syd Nicholls, creatoi of-the comic-strip Fatty Finn, was there. And little Gwcnda Hemus, who played Betty Briggs, the powder-puff sweet- heart of Fatty's deadly rival, Bruiser.
And young"'Ray Salmon, who was the film Jimmy Kelly, with a tawny mop as unruly as Fatty's. Yes, they were there to relive those ex- citing days.
I An incident from "The Kid Stakes." This is part of I the original film.
But little Gwcnda-Gwenda of the goat-drawn billycan and the check gingham frock -was 1952's Mrs. Wright, wife of a clothing firm supply manager and mother of a boy just about as old as Fatty in the strip-8±.
And young Ray Salmon, always a big lad for his age, was there as 35-year-old 15 stone Mr. Ray F. Salmon, one of the bosses of an electrical and switchboard manufactur- ing company. His comb wrecking mop has long ago thinned to a memory.
As They Were
WHAT a moment it was
for them when they saw their childhood selves come
out of the past as if by magic! What memories of long-for- gotten things it stirred!
Why, that tangled paddock with a fleeting background of sheds-why, that was Mascot, wasn't it, where the airplane took off to fly Fatty's goat Hector to the race that Bruiser had tried to rig?
And the pond that Hector was supposed to fall into when the plane did a loop? Yes, we remember now! It was the pond in Centennial Park. And the goat didn't really fall into it, of course. He was thrown.
There they go, the adven- turous, excited childhood band of 25 years ago, living every moment of make-helieve in- tensely, realistically. That check ginghapi frock that Gwenda wore was green, brown and orange. It had to be check, the director said, so it would photograph well.
And what a thrill it was, choosing the material. Mrs. Wright-36, in her black town dress, a double string of pearls around her neck and pearl earrings matching remembered it all. The ging- ham frock^is still in a drawer at her home in Cowper Street, Randwick.
"Mum kept it for sentimen- tal reasons, ' she said when the lights were on again. Her eyes were shining in a way that told you she was happy
that mum had.
Husband Geoige and son Gregory are all set to see
' The Kid Stakes" when it a screened at three Sydnty news theatres this week And Gwenda is rather fearful oí the leg pulling she is sure she will have to put up with at
"That hat1 ' she sud, dis mayed It was good, 1927
fashion. But fancy looking like that to-dayl On second thoughts she is not sure she will lake Gregory to see the picture.
ON an empty plush seal
near Mr. Salmon lay a letter. It was from director Tal Ordell, who directed "The Kid Stakes." It was not even typewritten. 'The Kid Stakes" was no million dollar, super-colossal epic, You could tell that. The let-
ter was Ray's contract for his part in the picture.
It told him (date, Novem- ber 11, 1926):
Your salary will be 7/5 per day on every day you perform before the camera, and fares to ani from your home. If you will bring your fox-terrier along I will also pay you for his services.
You must be on time. Bring the following old clothes with you: 1 oli coat, 1 pair pants, one coloured shirt, 1 pair o\ boots, 1 ? cap, 1 hat, 1 loaistcoat, 1 towel ani piece of soap. Also your lunch. '
? When Fox films made "Kangaroo" in Australia not long ago they had 30 people doing nothing but prepare food for the location crew and it cost thousands. But that was in another day and age. The sub-titles of silent Fatty Finn were far behind. Where Are They?
THE fox terrier did not
appear So -mother Rm Tin Tin was lost to the
And where are the rest of the 1927 childhood gang1 Robin (Pop) Ordell, who played Fatty, gave his life as an airman in the war Per- haps some of those other children did, too The film company reviving the old pic ture tried to find them and
Sjdney will remember them, though 'The Kid Stakes" has been cut from a full-length feature to a 19 minute short so that it can fit in with news theatre time tables and 11 shows a da\
But they will be 19 minutes to relive a part of our m« that has cone for ever
OUTSIDE in the 1952
street, 36 year old Gwen da turned to 35 year old Ra*, and held out her hand Wheo they had met again an nour ago, after all those >cars, they
had been formal
But now the unaffected«'! of li and 10 was back 'Good-b>e, Ray" she said "It has been Io\el> seeing u» again" She turned toward) Randwick and the caies ot housekeeping
Ray steered his 15 start through the Christmas shop- ping crowds towards 192* responsibilities But the*" be back in the cinema dark ness and 1927 again wh'J "The Kid Stakes ' goes on W
Yes, they'll be back