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Children featured in film of

V ^jg - Australia...

By

1 MARJORIE BECKINGSALE

m

"Bush Christmas" being made

for British firm

EXCITING MOMENT for four of the young members of "Bush Christmas," when Michael Yard- ley (left), Morris Unicomb, Helen Grieve, and "Neezer" Saunders prepare to push a property "rock" off a cliff to bar the way of the

bushrangers they are chasing.

E^t^fjj^^ ^whiskers disguise film

jLwjL^Esß'^ players John Fernside (left), mW¡^^ Stanley Tolhurst, and Chips Raff W**^ erty, who feature in "Bush Christmas'

for Gaumont-British Instructional Films.

LOVELY SCENERY in the Burragorang Valley (N.S.W.) forms the background for Helen Grieve and "Neezer" Saunders as they rehearse for "Bush Christmas." which English children will see in serial form.

Five young Australian children are working like Trojans at present in front of film and recording cameras in some of Australia's loveliest country scenery at the Burragorang Valley, N.S.W.

They are Helen Grieve (13), Michael Yardley (13), Morris Unicomb (12), Ebenezer Saunders (12), and Nicky Yardley (7), and they are members of the cast of "Bush Christmas."

THESE youngsters were

photographed in color by The Australian Women's Weekly for the cover of this special film, issue. Attractive, vital, and intelligent, they compare very favorably with any film starlets from

abroad.

"Bush Christmas" is being pro- duced and directed by well-known director Ralph Smart for Gaumont British Instructional Films, and will be shown before a guaranteed audi- ence of more than 400,000 in England alone

First audiences will be the mem- bers of Arthur Rank's Children's Cinema Clubs.

I have spent considerable time with the children on location here

and also with the adult members |

of the cast^Chips Rafferty, John j Fernside, Stanley Tolhurst. Thelma | Grigg, and Pat Penny.

The kids are grand little troupers.1 Nicky Yardley with his blue eyes, \ untidy fair hair, toothless gap in front, and sturdy friendly manner te a personality boy if ever I saw one. At the ripe old age of seven, "Nicky" fears neither man nor

camera.

ls self-reliant

JJE never misses a cue, and to see

hun riding his horse, "Silver," and yelling to the cattle dog, "Kanga," while the camera is click- ing, gives a vivid impression of this self-reliant small boy.

Ralph Smart told me one day, as we watched Nicky in a scene with Helen and Kanga, that the only worry he had about Nicky as an actor was that nature would win

to the battle between finishing the film and the arrival of Nicky's two front teeth.

Helen Grieve was Ralph Smart's Ant choice for the cast of the film which he wrote at the direction of English magnate Arthur Rank and Instructional Films chief Mary

Field.

Thirteen-year-old Helen did a fine W> in Eating's film "The Over landers" last year, and producer

Ti*rt had her in mind when he treated th« part of Helen in the Present film

Ebenezer Saunders, thirteen-year old full-blooded aboriginal, was brought from a mission station near Rockhampton (Q.) for the role of "Neezer." When I first saw "Neezer" he was painstakingly picking out a tune on the piano with one finger of his long thin hands.

A sheepish grin showed mag- nificent teeth (Neezer's grin is his fortune) as he explained that he likes all the tunes he hears, but "Don't Pence Me In" is his favorite.

His unusually musical speaking voice is attractive, and he has learned the camera tricks quickly.

Morris Unicomb is a typical Aus- tralian twelve-year-old with a cheer- ful grin and fair hair which he wears slicked down. Morris has

had lots of stage and radio experience.

Michael Yardley, elder brother o: the doughty Nicky, has the role ol an English evacuee. Michael is a handsome lad, but his good looks are somewhat overshadowed by the fact that he has to wear glasses in the film. We spent a lot of time hunting for those spectacles, which persisted in getting mislaid.

Briefly, the story of "Bush Christ- mas" tells of the adventures of five youngsters who become involved with three bushrangers.

The "baddies" are "Chips" Rafferty (Long Bill), John Fernside (Sly), and Stanley Tolhurst (Blue). The three all wore scrubby beards for weeks, and the less said about their clothes the better.

On location, "Chips" was a rare sight when he strode around all day in decrepit boots, yellow trousers, a loud, checked shirt, a weather-beaten old Digger hat, and a sheepskin-lined jacket. For extra cold days, between scenes, "Chips" added to this glamor with a remnant of his R.A.A.F. days -an Air Force greatcoat.

Thelma Grlgg and Pat Penny have the roles of the parents of Helen, Morris, and Nicky. Miss Grigg has been seen in many shows for the Independent Theatre, Sydney, and Pat Penny is well known in radio productions.

Working hours on location for

"Bush Christmas" depended on the weather. On good days we were up at six, and by 7.30 were packed into the three big trucks, and on our way along the lovely valley road to the selected location spots or the old farmhouse.

Shooting began about nine o'clock, and we had a picnic lunch in sunny spots at twelve o'clock. If the sun stayed out, final scenes for the day ended about four o'clock. No one had any time to spare, not even Kanga the dog, who was constantly being trained for his scenes.

With us always went pretty governess Gwen Annesley, pro- vided by the N.S.W. Department ot Education, and when the children were not on call a school was set up under a tree.

I watched Nicky working in a scene

in whicù ne and Neezer "double

banked" on the pony Silver. Not long after, Nicky, oblivious to every- thing round him, drew the scene of himself getting a leg-up from Neezer. It wasn't a bad effort either for an artist of seven.

An important figure in the unit is charming Meg Smart, wife of the producer. Meg is continuity girl.

Chief cameraman is George Heath, who photographed "Porty Thousand Horsemen," "Rats of Tobruk,** "Smithy," and^'The Overlanders."

Practically the whole film will be shot in the country.

With 100 per cent, co-operation from his entire film unit, Ralph Smart has every reason to hope that "Bush Christmas" will become a first-class film of Australian bush life.

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