THE news that Columbia is to make pictures in
Australia, coming as it does on top of Charles Chauvel's immediate line-up of three films, has given unexpected impetus to Australian production. lt may well be the springboard for a programme of con- tinuous production, without which the art in Australia can make little progress.
It is good reading, too, that the first four films to come from Chauvel and Columbia-the latter in associa- tion with Cinesound Productions-have definite Austra- lian associations. And Australian artists will have the chance to prove their worth.
NICK PERY, Columbia's chief in
Australia, made known Colum- bia's intentions at a luncheon ten- dered to Press and radio representa- tives in Sydney for the specific pur- pose of breaking the news.
Australians will cheer the choice of the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith as the subject for its first effort. The film will be based on the life, career, and exploits of "Smithy," and interior shots will be made at the Cinesound studios
The cast will
be composed of Australian play- ers, and Pery an nounced that Ken G. Hall will be
producer and director. Hall
acted in a similar capacity for most, if not all, of Cinesound's 18 feature films.
Backed by the financial re- sources of Columbia, he is capable of turning in a worthwhile film dealing with the achievements of
one of the world's greatest fliers.
Nick Pery has faith in the future of film-making in Australia. He believes we have the backgrounds and the players to do a good job, and he has indicated that it was this faith which encouraged Columbia to be the first American unit to pro- duce and finance an Australian made film with Australian talent exclusively.
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WHAT this leader had to
say about British pro- duction makes signifi j cant reading: "Although I represent
an American company, I have no
hesitation in saying that I firmly believe the production of British films will blossom out, and will in time take its place side by side with the production of American films.
"Furthermore, I do not think I am indulging in Utopian fancies when I say that Australia, or rather, some spot in Australia, could bc made the Hollywood of the British Commonwealth."
Columbia, by the way, has its own
studios in England.
Cast names for
Smith vehicle and Chauvel's "Green Moun- tains" and "Wards of the
have not yet been announced, but Chauvel's "Rats of Tobruk," which should get Australian feature pro- duction away to a rousing start, must almost be ready for release.
Chauvel's earlier film, "Forty Thousand Horsemen," based on the exploits of the Australian Light Horse in the First World War, was well received, and his "Rats of Tob- ruk" should, because of its recent associations, prove even more suc- cessful. Incidentally, the three male leads are all members of the fighting forces-Cpl Grant Taylor, P-Officer John Goffage (better known as Chips Rafferty), and Sgt Peter Finch.
Grant Taylor and Chips Rafferty starred in "Forty Thousand Horse- men," and Peter Finch is a well known radio and screen actor.
Many of the original "Rats" have speaking parts in the film.
GRANT TAYLOR , Peter
Finch, and Chips Rafferty as they appear in featured roles in Charles Chauvel's "Rats of Tobruk," an Aus- tralian production.
COMMENT in this col-
umn recently on the original film version of "The Squatter's Daughter," made in Australia in 1910, with Hobart's Olive Wilton in the title role, has attracted Mainland attention, and letters from Ken. G. Hall, producer director for Cinesound Productions, and George Cross, veteran stage and screen actor, and for some years casting director for Cinesound, throw a little more light on the vague spots.
Ken. Hall writes that George Cross was Olive Wilton's leading man in the film, and that as cast- ing director he was closely asso
ciated with Cinesound's talkie ver- sion many years later.
Ken. relates that as a matter of interest, he and Bert Bailey-who was co-author of the story-started a search for the original film after making the 1933 version, but nothing came to light. Anyway, as he says, if a print were dug up it would be so shrunken that it would not pass over a projector.
Thus passes an historical film piece.
The Australian producer-director adds: "I believe with Olive Wilton, that big things will happen in motion picture production in this country. Despite terrific obstacles and an appalling lack of practically everything, a very great deal of suc- cess was achieved in the 10 years up to the beginning of the war. This company alone made in that time 18 feature films. Now it's to begin again on what must be considered a very satisfactory basis, because, for the first time in history, an Austra- lian film will have open to it the world-wide distribution channels of a major American company in Col- umbia Pictures."
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GEORGE CROSS, who
recently resigned from Greater Union Theatres to become principal of the Australian Academy of Dramatic
Art in Sydney, is well-known m Hobart.
He writes that he was not only the male lead in the 1910 version of "The Squatter's Daughter," but that he was the original lead in the first stage presentation of the play at the Melbourne Theatre Royal.
Roy Redgrave-father of Michael Redgrave-who was in Australia at
the time, was not associated in any
way with the
picture, but such names as Rut- land Beckett, Max Clifton, Temple Har- rison, and Ted Campbell were. George adds that these stage personalities of another era have since passed on.
And as a mat- ter of interest George learned from Bert Bailey,
when '"The Mercury" story was re- ferred to him, that another Aus- tralian full-length film-"The Kelly Gang"-was made prior to "The Squatter's Daughter" but that the latter picture was certainly the first to hit the oversea market.
And all this builds our interest in the forthcoming repeat release of "On Our Selection." Australia's first talkie film.