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LONDON, April 3.-:Several of the Aus tralian talkies, including 'Diggers/' 'On Our Selection' (renamed 'Down on the Farm'), 'His Royal Highness' (renamed
'ilis Loyal Highness') and 'The Senti mental Bloke,' have now been trade shown in England and it is possible to give some idea of their general recep tion. The trade-press, which is the loud-voiced trumpet that speaks unto thousands of ex hibitors all over Britain, was rather hard on most of the ''films. Encouraging things were said about George Wallace, who was hailed as quite a brilliant comedian, but 'The Sentimental Bloke' and 'On Our Selection' were dismissed as old-fashioned and second-class productions. One man who is prominent in the trade told me that he was surprised to note the type of outback characters who were featured in 'On Our Selection.' He' had always been led to believe that Australians were virile, big-chested he-men, not loon* and half wits. Others also have demanded to know why Australian producers insist on making stories about none but lower-class or vul garly humorous or decrepit types of Aus tralians.'' 'They -are anxious' to see some thing of a more vigorous and idealistic Australia and Australian character, on the screen. But in spite of the fact that London has refused to be stampeded into wild excitement over the advent of Aus tralia's first talkies, I am informed that considerable provincial bookings are tak ing place. Mr. Frank Ditcham, of Universal Films, the firm which is handling the Australian product in this country, gave me some progress figures yesterday and added that both he and the Australian producers were satisfied with the general reception of the films. In this, country, an average feature film achieves about a thousand or 1,200 in dividual contracts. A very successful film achieves several hundreds more. Up till the present, 'His Royal Highness'7 has reached 700 bookings and the figure is improving daily. 'On Our Selection' has so far been booked for 500 and 'Diggers' (not long trade-shown) for 400 theatres. The final bookings should be larger than this. From these figures it is clear that if Australia makes a good film it will be hospitably received in Britain. But she has yet to make a good film, that is to say a first-class film, one of which people in this country will take serious notice. Producers in Australia on no account must imagine that any of the pictures they have turned out so far is anywhere near good enough to merit a West £nd run, the supreme test of quality. In most cases the director is considered to have climbed down to Ms audience, a fatal mistake. The acting (of the men) has in nearly every case been favourably commented on; the direction and the production have generally been regarded as second-class. Mr. F. W. Hiring, the head of Efftee Films, will leave England shortly aftei a lengthy stay during which he tells me he has improved his knowledge of the Fjngfoh market out of all measure.