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"Bitter Springs" is
ll^HEN Tommy Trinder, English come
** dian, paid his first visit to Australia a few years ago to appear on the Tivoli circuit, he made a promise to return and make an Australian film.
Tommy kept that pro- mise in returning last year to make "Bitter Springs" for Ealing
Last night in Adelaide that film made Australian history in being- given a world premiere to which film critics from all States were invited.
I was one of those who shared In this historic occasion, handled hi the best manner of Hollywood tradition, for which aeroplane fares and overnight accommodation were provided by Ealing.
The. way in which the premiere "was presented, in a "broad canvas" manner rare to this country, suggested lhat oui local'film industry had, at last, "grown up."
When I interviewed TJommy Trinder at the Tivoli during his Melbourne season I more or loss put the words into his nvjuth that he would come bawc and make a film here,
Said' Trinder in answer to my question: "I most certainly consider that Australia has great potentials for being an important film-producing coun- try. . But it needs someone to give it the lead . . . overseas producers and directors and overseas stars."
When I asked him if he'd come back and do the job him- self he thought a moment be- fore answering (a moment to Hie live-wire Tommy Trinder is comparable to half an hour for the average person).
"I promise you I'll come back," he said with decision, "and make a film here which is ' definitely 'Australian' in character and atmosphere. It may liot be a wonderful film, but it will be a "start.' "
Tommy does it
T AST night I saw the
fruits of that promise. The picture is far removed from Tommy's first thought on the matter (.a "Pommy" smuggling his way into Aus- tralia so that he could take part in a Test match on the historic Melbourne Cricket ground), but it is indubitably "Australian" in every aspect.
It tells of an Australian fam- ily faced with the discouraging prospect of establishing a se- lection in "the centre"- 600 miles inland beyond a desert.
-'The film shows the family making the exhausting trek to their remote homes-tead-to-bc. It shows them facing and cop- ing with the rigours of water shortage and the antagonism of aboriginal tribes camped around their site at Bittei Springs.
It depicts the manner in which the homrstraders, handle the aboriginal hostility and eventually turn it into co- operative channels, with 'the natives assisting as stockmen and shepherds on the range . . . with the apparently essential love interest being introduced to keep the audiences happy.
Enter o Cockney
"DUT how does, Tommy
Trinder the "Pommy,"
enter into all this?
By means of some exhaustive thought on the part of Trinder, producer Michael Balcon and director Ralph Smart, we should imagine.
Tommy is eased in with a scriptwriting "shoe-horn" in the role of a cockney vaude villian, Tommy, "busking" his way around the country, who is sigfred on by the homestead- ers as a "hand." ^ He not only provides comedy relief, but also sa\rs the day so far as the hostile aborigines arc concerned by "stunning" them into amiability with displays of his theatrical "magic."'
Assisting Trinder in the film' arc the ubiquitous Chips Raf- ferty (the homesteader). Mich- ael Pate (Trooper Ransome), Nonie Piper (Chips' daughter), Gordon Jackson (Scots carpen- ter, who provides love interest for the daughter), Charles Tingwall (Chips' son) and Jean Blue (Chips' wife). Nicky Yardley plays the part of Tom- my's son. Charlie.
Said Tommy Trinder, sum-
ming up after the film was . completed: "Australia achieves as high a standard as I have seen anywhere in respect to technical and production qual- ity. This augurs well for the future of Australia as an im
. portant film centre. I
"TJUT Australia is not yet
ready for the more so- phisticated modern drama, al- though there is great scope for featuring the outdoors. It con cash in on this angle,-for it has so much .to offer in the way of fresh scenes, types and stories. And there is plenty of talent here to ensure a good standard of acting.
"But it will be a long time before you can manage with- out importing leading interna- tional stars for the main roles. The topnotchers that are here have to go overseas to get into big time, for Australia hasn't the population to keep world ranking artists fully employed.
'The Australian accent is an- other barrier to making modern dramas here," said Trinder. "It just doesn't record well. Tins applies particularly to the voices of women. Until a more
pleasing accent is acquired,
Australia must leave the so- phisticated stuff alone."