Film Industry In Australia 40 Years Old
By TE PAN A
ANNOUNCEMENT that Harry Watt, of Ealing Studios, London, will make a film of Rolf Bolderwood's 'Robbery Under Arms' in Australia recalls the good old days of picture
making here. Since local production began more than 40 years ago, 162 silent, and 47 talk- ing pictures have been made in Australian studios. 'Robbery Under Arms' was a 1920 film made by Pacific Photo- plays, with Tien Hogue, Kennet Brampton and Hilda Dorrington in the leads. It was a doughty bit of film craft photographed by an old hand-cranked 'box' in natural light. The same year Brisbane's E. J. Carroll 'shot' the super, epic of the times, 'Shadow off Lightning Ridge,' to which Reg. L. Baker, now in Hollywood, contributed his acting talents, and 'Ginger Mick,' which brought Arthur Tauchert, Lottie Lyall, and Gilbert Emery to the fore. ' , 'Rudd's New Selection' (Tal Ordell) and 'Blue Mountain Mys tery' (Marie Osborne) were made by Carroll in 1921. These, however, were not Mr. Carroll's first film productions. In 1918 he starred Reg. L. Baker in 'Lure of the. Bush,' and in 1919 made 'Desert Gold' with Bryce Rowe, Marie Ney and John Cosgrove. * * * A RECORD of names of Aus- tralian films, is a record of popular stage players. The theatre was the recruiting ground for film artists when Beau- mont Smith, Arthur Shirley, Fran- cis Birtles, Raymond Longford, Charles Spencer, Franklyn Barret, Stanley Crick, and Claude Flem- ming made pictures. Most of our stage great appeared in films more than 30 years ago. What a list of mummers they make. Roy Redgrave (father of Michael, now a British picture star), Nellie Stewart, Annette Kellerman, George Cross, Helen Fergus, Sara Allgood (top-notch character woman in Hollywood films). Maggie Moore, Billy Percy, Gus. Neville. George Willoughby.
Hector St. Clair, George Moon, Eva Novak, Agnes Dobson, and Godfrey Cass. These old-time performers thrilled many a heart on the wet sheet, forerunner of the 'silver screen,' and quickened many a pulse with their daring deeds. In 1930 the Commonwealth Government offered three prizes for the best films produced in Australia. The only award was given to 'Fellers.' produced by D. Faye. The picture was not deemed of sufficient merit to receive more than third prize. It had dialogue in the final reel only. Other early 'sound' pictures produced here included 'The Sen- timental Bloke,' 'His Royal High- ' ness,' 'Squatter's Daughter.' and 'Silence of Dean Maitland.' The most successful of all Aus- tralian films 'On Our Selection' was made with Bert Bailey in 1932. It is still being screened in Brisbane suburbs, and is credited with taking more than any film at the box office. 'The Overlanders' and 'Smithy,' perhaps, will shade it ultimately. Several local players have made ' much progress in Hollywood from their simple beginnings in Aus tralian films. . These include Jocelyn Howarth ('Squatteri' Daughter'), Errol Flynn ('In the Wake of the Bounty') , ' Cecil Kellaway ('Mr. Chedworth Steps Out', John Longden ('Silence of Dean Mait- land'), Mary Maguire ('Herit- age'), Ann Richards ('It Isn't Done'), and Betty Bryant ('Forty Thousand Horsemen'). There have been some valiant attempts by producers in the last 40 years to induce film production by Australians to leave the cradle. Signs now arc not wanting of lusty development, and there is every prospect of it reaching the adult stage. This year big overseas interests will turn their cameras on the local scene and players. On their success depends the future of a fine local entertainment industry.