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Helen Morse, whose portrait appears opposite, had to learn to be a barmaid for the film, "Caddie", spending hours at the Australian Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney (picture left). Above, the William Wallace Hotel, one of several hotel locations in "Caddie" in old, historic Sydney.

Australian-made   movie set in the '30s  


AWARD-WINNING Sydney act- ress, Helen Morse, chosen to play the main role in "Caddie," the story of the life of a Sydney barmaid during the great Depres- sion, is uncanny to talk to nowadays.

In the two months since she signed her contract, she has immersed herself in the ro!e to such a degree that during the time I spent with her, I felt that I really was with

Caddie herself.

Caddie was a Sydney barmaid who wrote the story of her life and had it  


published in 1953. She never reveals her true identity. The book is called "Caddie," a nickname that stuck after it was bestowed by a casual drinker in the bar.

Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, Caddie's story is to be made into a movie that should be one of the major events of

International Women's Year.

The movie has the considerable support of the Australian Women's Weekly, the

Australian Film Commission, the Inter-

national Women's Year Committee, and Roadshow Distributors.

Producer of "Caddie" is Anthony Buckley, director is Donald Crombie, and the script from the original book is written by Joan Long.

The movie is being made on location in and around Sydney. All the roles will be played by Australians except for the male

lead role, Peter, Caddie's Greek lover.

Greek actor. Takis Emmanuel, who has  

made 40 films including "Play Dirty" with Michael Caine and has just finished




making a movie with Roger Moore, plays Caddie's lover. Peter, a Greek migrant.

Caddie's story is a simple one - a moving story of a proud young woman

whose husband's infidelities force her to

get out of their home to rear their two

children on her own.

Caddie was only 24 when she got her first job in the bar, not from choice, but

because she was broke and needed the

money to support herself and her

two children.

lt was 1925, and the bitter years of the great Depression, so shattering to the economy and the spirit, were on the way.

Before I met Helen Morse I read

"Caddie." the book, now out of print, that

Caddie wrote.

It is not great literature. It is the story of

a woman who had a hard life from

childhood, a story I couldn't stop reading. I read on and on, absorbed in the picture she painted of her life and the Sydney of the Depression.

She talks about the grimness of the dole queues, the bitterness, the sympathetic

clerks who handed out extra dole tickets when "dolos" were sick, the hard ones who didn't, the rabbitohs whose meat was

luxury, and the battering the spirit took as things got worse and worse, and there was just no work.

People who lived through the

Depression in inner Sydney agree that  

"Caddie" is remarkable for its true and

vivid picture of the Depression years. Translated to the screen it could be a very significant social document, and un- doubtedly gripping entertainment.

Helen Morse is very serious about her role as Caddie. She has studied the times, talked to people who knew Caddie, even wears the clothes of the period. She feels it will be a great movie.

"It is not a solely feminist script." she told me. "It is a story about a human being who happens to be a woman, and a woman making her own decisions."

Helen is small, about 5ft 3in (about 1.6m) tall, size 10. Several times in the book  

Caddie says she is short, has a neat figure and a tiny waist.

But the book also shows that Caddie is more [than] usually intelligent, has innate dignity and refinement, something spotted by the local SP man as "class."

So has Helen Morse.

Helen's unusual topaz eyes flash when

[Caption: Above: Kent Hotel in historic Balmain, Sydney, is one of the places where Caddie, in the film, works. Right, Helen Morse in a crepe-de-chine dress from the '20s - a precious film prop. Caddie was named after an SP bookie's Cadillac. The bookie was a casual drinker in a bar where Caddie served.]

she talks about Caddie. "She lived through the Depression, but she always manages to get on top of adversity.

"She has such tenacity, such spirit that she always rises above the dreadful things that happen to her."

Caddie died in 1962. The movie focuses on her life from 1925 to 1932.

Helen told me she had been reading steadily about the 'twenties and 'thirties since she got the role, and talking to people who lived through the Depression.

She has also been learning the bar trade

in a hotel down at the Rocks, where "the Missus." as Caddie refers to Mrs Public

House, has been teaching her how to pull


"You have no idea what a delicate art it is." Helen said.

"The first few glasses I pulled had tops of about 2½ to 3 inches (up 7.6 cm) of

froth. Pass one of those over the bar and you'll get it right back.

"That froth is called 'a collar' and in a perfectly pulled glass there should never be

more than a quarter of an inch of that


"I'm learning and I am getting quite good at it, but in the movie, I'll be using straight up-and-down beer pumps, not the modern type used today."

Helen Morse is no 1975 beauty, the kind that depends on perfect grooming for effect; she's a plain old-fashioned pretty girl, who fits the period she has been

chosen for.

As Marion, the name role in "Marion," (a period series, circa 1940. in four parts and made by ABC-TV) in which she played a school teacher in a remote country school in Victoria, she won a Penguin award as the best actress of 1974.

Walking beside me. wearing her 'twenties morocain dress and velvet jacket from Paddy's Market, she started reminiscing about the Depression as if she had really lived through it herself.

"The marvellous thing in the Depression was that a whole street would live almost in a commune, growing their

own vegetables and sharing what they had, helping each other out," she said.

"I think 'Caddie' is marvellous. People say it is a woman's book, but I think that, more importantly, it is a people's book.

'it is about a woman and about her

moral and physical strengths, about the way she works to raise her children - there was no social welfare to help.

"She didn't want to go on the dole, but of course ultimately she had to.

"Caddie's struggle to do the best she could for her children is representative of so many women alone today, who work and worry about what is best for the


"It is always the children who come


"But Caddie won't be just a woman's picture about the Depression. The men

had a much worse time.

"The men felt worse about things than

the women.

"To them there was always the feeling of personal failure in a man losing his job, even though it wasn't his fault.

"But I think it is great that Caddie's story should be made this year,

International Women's Year.

"Caddie was a great human being. She

made her own decisions without influence

from others. I think this is very good."

Helen's identification with Caddie is so

strong, she is already so locked inside the role that I was momentarily shocked when she said Caddie was a great human being —the remark put her back into the past   instead of alongside me.

I took another long, hard look at this young woman. Helen's prettiness is of the anonymous kind, it doesn't jump out and hit you between the eyes with instant impact, it goes with serenity, and gentle


I wondered where she got this quality, so unusual in these frenetic days.

Helen is 28, leads a full, busy life, has been married for eight years to actor-director Sandy Harbutt.

She is the eldest of four children whose parents were a doctor and a nurse. Helen is the eldest, then comes Isabel, a violinist. Gareth, a marine biologist, and Sarah, who teaches the 'cello and is studying music and composing. Helen used to play piano and


"I would like to take it up again," she said, "but I scatter my time, don't use it efficiently.

"Music is very important to me."

So (I thought) music is the key to her serenity. It is probably part of it, but her

next remark revealed its real cause.

"We had a wonderful home," she said.

"It was very argumentative, very noisy, and a very free house with a lot of love around. We were all very lucky. We lived surrounded by love."

I think if Caddie were alive today, she'd approve strongly of Helen playing her life story.