The late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his famous plane
photographed when both were at the zenith of their fame.
The Southern Cross flies again in "Smithy" the life story of the
great airman, now under production.
BASED on the life of the late Sir Charles
Kingsford Smith, "Smithy," now under production by Columbia Pictures, will be the first film undertaken in the Commonwealth for world release glorifying the life of a great Australian. It is the human interest story of a man of pur- pose, a man of vision, a man of destiny.
"Smithy," as he was universally known during his trail-blazing career as an airman, had in his life many companions, his life touched many people in stations high and low. He had many adventures in a career packed with events and achievements. These aspects will be depicted in the film, which will be released through Columbia's world-wide organisation.
WAY back in 1941 Columbia Pic
tures Australian organisation received a pleasant surprise. It was world traveller Mr N. P. Pery, come to fill the post of managing director for Australasia and the Far East.
Not content with the heavy work entailed by such a responsible position, he was fdlcd with two ambitions-to examine the pos- sibilities of making; a film in Aus- tralia, and lo find a suitable sub- ject for such a film.
By 1944 he had achieved both ob- jectives, and announced that Col- umbia would make its first Austral- ian film. It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate subject. Fifteen months in preparation, Mr Pery was finally satisfied that he had a story which "combined human in- terest with the life and achievements of a great Australian."
Ken G. Hall is directing the film, and in his capable hands it may be depended upon that the most will be
made of the material.
On this aspect it is of more than passing interest to learn that Colum umbia intends to spend the same amount of money on "Smithy" as it usually allocates for an American picture.
As an instance, the wages bill is approximately £400 a day. Ward- robe has cost in the region of £4,000; and provides Ron Randell and Mur- iel Steinbeck with 30 changes oi costume each. Another head-turn- ing item of expenditure will be a 45 piece string orchestra to do the musical background.
Mr Pery expects the film finally to cost between £60,000 and £70,000.
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IN addition to providing a
fast-moving story of Kingsford Smith's struggle for re- cognition, there will be an array of famous names as well. Among those depicted on the screen are King George V, Mr W. M. Hughes Sir Isaac Isaacs, Sir Hubert Wil
kins, Capt P. G. Taylor, John Stan nage, and Capt G. Allan Hancock (the American millionaire who back- ed Smithy's Pacific flight).
Mr Hughes paid a striking trib- ute to the memory of Kingsford Smith in consenting to play his own part in thc film. Other char- acters portraying their real life roles in the picture arc Capt Tay lor and John Stannage (original members of thc Southern Cross). Ron Randell, who will take the roll of "Smithy," has been serving in the Army. After his discharge he went to America to seek fame and fortune. Radio engagements were plentiful, and he eventually achieved stardom in "Mr and Mrs North," with Nancy Carroll.
He was not so fortunate at Holly- wood, however, and decided to return to Australia. Success followed suc- cess in the theatre and on the radio, culminating in his casting for the title role of "Smithy." If ironical, it is surely appropriate that he had to return to his native Australia to attain his ambition of'film stardom.
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A NOTABLE feature of the
film is that Kingsford Smith's old "bus," the Southern Cross, with which he won his great- est fame as one of the pioneers of aviation, has been resurrected from its resting place in the National Museum at Canberra and flies again.
To attempt anything but a passing reference to the famous machine here would be to attempt the im- possible, for the Southern Cross, like its famous pilot, fills volumes in the history of aviation.
All the principal flights of the Southern Cross-from Australia to England and back across the At- lantic in the days when air navi- gation was in its infancy, and across the Pacific from North America to Australia-receive due consideration.
His journey round Australia in 1927 when, with C. T. P. Ulm, he made a record-breaking flight of
7,539 miles in 10, days . 5½ hours- time that would appear to be in- tolerably slow in these days of 600 mph rocket planes-is specially feat- ured for the great achievement it was in those days.
Smithy's comrades in his great air adventures-Ulm and Taylor are not overlooked in this film epic
of the air.