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By LON JONES
. HOLLYWOOD: If plans now being made by major
studios materialise, 1C47 looms as Australia and New Zealand's year in Hollywood.
BESIDES Sister Kenny, which will
go into general release here late this year, several studios have begun a number of high-budget pro- ductions, the stories of which are laid either in Australia or New Zealand.
The Australian stories now being prepared for the screen include Nord hoff and Hall's Botany Bay, the late Henry Handel Richardson's The For- tunes of Richard Mahony, and Helen Simpson's Under Capricorn. New Zealand will be represented by Eliza- beth Goudge's best-seller, Green Dol- phin Street.
Obviously because it is the most colourful in Australia's short history, the convict period will provide the dramatic backgrounds for two of these productions - Botany Bay and Under Capricorn.
Under Capricorn is to be produced and directed by that master of screen suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, and the rotund English director plans to star Swedish-bom Ingrid Bergman in the role of the Irish heroine who follows her convicted lover when he is transported to Australia.
Hitchcock plans to shoot most of this picture in England, except for the Australian convict sequences. These will not be shot in Australia, but in Southern California, where the country resembles that of Australia.. Hitchcock probably could send a crew to Australia for, these backgrounds, but he prefers to shoot them near Hollywood, where he will have better technical and production facilities, as well as plenty of trained extras.
It is unlikely that Under Capricorn will begin before late 1947, because of Miss Bergman's many commit- ments - she is .just about to begin work in Arch of Triumph. With Miss Bergman playing the lead in Under Capricorn, it can be taken for granted that it will be a multi-mil- lion dollar production.
Paramount has completed the screen pvlay of Botany Bay, and it is hoped this will go into production by the end of the year, providing the budget can be kept within $2£ mil- lion. As it now stands, the script would cost in excess of $4 million to produce, which Paramount execu- tives consider way too high.
Australian-born John Farrow, who will direct, is now engaged with the scripter trimming down the budget to the required amount.
Botany Bay is to be in technicolour, and will have several very expensive sea sequences. It will also be neces- sary to re-create the early settlement of Botany Bay. This probably will be built on the shores of some cove along the Southern Californian coast, or may be erected on the island of Catalina, whioh is some miles off the coast, near Los Angeles. This set alone is likely to cost Paramount around $200,000.
Although no definite casting has been announced for Botany Bay, I saw the script, and Alan Ladd's name was pencilled in tentatively for the lead. Ray Milland is also said to be interested in playing the lead.
With Farrow heading the produc- tion, the Australian sequences should be faithfully reproduced. Paramount, incidentally, is handling this story with kid gloves, so to speak, fearing that Australians might not like hav- ing the convict past revived. The script will carefully point out that most of the convicts transported to Australia were political offenders, or were committed for petty crimes. They will also have the hero an- nounce that Australia is the great lani of the future. Krims, who wrots the screen play, also has some knowledge of Australia, having spent many months there with the US Army. He is rated a top screen writer in Hollywood.
Metro is now busy preparing The Fortunes of Richard Mahony for the screen, probably for early 1947 pro- duction. This will be among the studio's top pictures of the year, for it will star Greer Garson, together with Gregory Peck, who is among the most popular leading men in Hollywood today. Peck, of course, is to portray the title role.
Whether Metro intends to make a picture covering the entire span of the trilogy is -not known. It is
<P, I J that the screen ^j> COCK ade play will confine
itself chiefly to A the dramatic
^/tqain, . . . events of early
° Ballarat, including the Eureka Stockade. It has not yet been decided whether the picture is to be in colour, and no decision has been made about locations.
The studio will no doubt re-create early Ballarat somewhere in South- ern California. There would be no point in sending a camera crew to Australia to shoot the Ballarat of today. Metro, incidentally, believes this picture will cost about $2 mil- lion, more if shot in colour.
Green Dolphin Street is about ready to go before the cameras, waiting only for the two stars, Katharine Hepburn and Van Johnson, to be free of other commitments. This picture of early New Zealand is being produced by Carey Wilson, who is now busy supervising sketches depict- ing Wellington when it was little more than a settlement. When the sketches are completed the young city of Wellington will rise on Catalina Island. The producer wanted to do this picture in technicolour, but his budget is running so high that he could not afford to add nearly another million dollars.
Another Metro film which will be of interest to Australians and New Zealanders is Christian of the Bounty, a sequel to the popular Mutiny on the Bounty. Carey Wil- son is also preparing this production, and still has high hopes of inducing Clark Gable to resume the role he originally created.
If all of these pictures are success- ful at the American box-office, you can look for a real cycle of Australian and New Zealand backgrounded films, for studios usually follow profit.
While some Australians may de- plore the fact that Hollywood seems too concerned with the dark convict past of Australia, it should be re- membered that this was the most dramatic period of Australia's his- tory, and offers moviemakers the colour so necessary for film fare. It was a unique period in history, and never has been brought to the screen properly.
THE GREAT CHOPIN.
Cornel Wilde in Columbia's A Sona tn
Remember, in its 40th week at the Savoy, expected to run a year.