Dad Rudd, M.P.

Dad Rudd, M.P. is a 1940 comedy that was the last of four films made by Ken G. Hall starring Bert Bailey as Dad Rudd. It was the last feature film directed by Hall prior to the war and the last made by Cinesound Productions, Bert Bailey and Frank Harvey.

Dad Rudd, M.P.
Poster for theatrical release
Directed byKen G. Hall
Produced byKen G. Hall
Written byBert Bailey
Frank Harvey
William Freshman
Based oncharacters created by Steele Rudd
StarringBert Bailey
Grant Taylor
Fred MacDonald
CinematographyGeorge Heath
Edited byWilliam Shepherd
Distributed byBritish Empire Films
Release date
June 1940
Running time
83 mins
Box office£28,000[1]


Dad Rudd wants the size of a local dam increased for the benefit of local farmers but faces opposition from a wealthy grazier, Henry Webster. When the local Member of Parliament dies, Webster runs for his seat, and Rudd decides to oppose him.

Webster and his team use dirty tricks to defeat Rudd, so he calls in his old friend from the city, Entwistle to help. Matters are complicated by the fact that Rudd's daughter Ann falls in love with Webster's son Jim.

On polling day, a fierce storm causes the dam to collapse. A major flood traps workers on the wrong side of the dam and the Rudds and Jim Webster team up to save the day. Dad Rudd is elected to parliament, where he gives a rousing speech.




The last six films made by Cinesound Productions were all comedies as producer Ken G. Hall sought to ensure guaranteed box office successes. He elected to make another Dad and Dave film instead of two other long-planned projects, an adaptation of Robbery Under Arms[2] and a story about the Overland Telegraph.[3] Hall said in 1939 that:

Though we were entertaining the idea of other types of stories, the amazing enthusiasm for Dad and Dave Come to Town makes another Bailey picture the wisest commercial choice. We feel that, by placing 'Dad' in politics, we will inject any amount of comedy material which is typical of Bailey at his best.[4]

William Freshman was originally reported as having worked on the script[5] and is credited along with Frank Harvey on the script submitted for copyright registration with the National Archives of Australia. However he does not have screen credit.

The movie was more serious than others in the series, being basically a drama with comic interludes. Bert Bailey commented during filming that:

In one of the old 'Selection' books, Dad did stand for Parliament. But that was for comedy purposes. In Dad Rudd, M.P., when Dad does come down and speak in Parliament, there is not one tinge of comedy. He is an earnest old chap, speakong in a plain, ordinary, common-sense way on water conservation. He is saying what he believes is the right thing to be done for the farmer, and for the country. For water is a national asset. In this scene, Dad does allude to the war. He says that the spirit which animated the pioneers who crossed the plains and fought the land is the same spirit behind the adventurous boys who go abroad to fight for Australia."[6]

Ken Hall himself edited out this speech when the film screened on ABC TV in 1970. "In the light of the world as we know it in the seventies, it all sounded so follow, so phony, so naive", he wrote. But the speech remains in most copies of the film available today.[7]


The romantic leads were played by Yvonne East and Grant Taylor, both graduates of the Cinesound Talent School making their first film.[8] Chips Rafferty makes an early screen appearance as a fireman in the Keystone Kops-style opening sequence.

The cast had more continuity than usual for a Cinesound Rudd film, with Alec Kellaway, Connie Martyn, Ossie Wenban, Valerie Scanlan and Marshall Crosby all reprising their roles from Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938).[9]

American actor Barbara Weeks, who was visiting Australia at the time of shooting with her husband, played a small role at the behest of Ken G. Hall.[10]


During pre production, Cinesound was visited by Adolph Zukor, founder of Paramount Pictures, then touring Australia. He had seen Dad and Dave Come to Town on the boat trip from the US, and been so impressed with the film's quality he wanted to visit the studio.[11]

Shooting took place in February and March 1940, in the Cinesound Studio and on location at Woronora Dam and Camden.[12] Cinesound hired space on the lot of the closed-down Pagewood studios for building a scale reproduction of the dam for the climax. These were supervised by J Alan Kenyon, who did the special effects for most of Cinesound's movies. The fake dam was 125 feet long and held 12,000 gallons of water.[13]

According to Hall:

It was the smoothest, best-made of the Bert Bailey films. In the process of the gradual evolution of the people and the storylines we had set down for these productions, the rawness had gone off the characters. There was much less burlesque of the types. The story was more modern and believable.[14]

The movie was partly financed with an guaranteed overdraft of £15,000 from the New South Wales government.[15]


Box Office

Dad Rudd, M.P. was a hit at the box office, earning £28,000 and achieving a successful release in Britain. However it was generally felt this result was below expectations.[1] Hall thought this was due in part to the fact that it was released "when Britain was standing alone under the blitz and all of Europe was aflame. It was a grim time for the whole world and a disastrous time for the entertainment industry. The theatres in Australia reached their lowest ebb since the depths of the Depression. Some suburban houses went dark and many city houses might just as well have been closed for all the good they were doing."[16]

The drain on material caused by World War II saw Cinesound abandon feature production in June 1940 for the duration of the war.[17] They never made another feature film.


Filmink later wrote that Grant Taylor "had looks, swagger and charm, albeit a hairline that was already receding. He was a man. His performance was well-received and he was launched as an actor."[18]


  1. 'Bert Bailey Started In Melodrama And Made A Fortune From A Beard', The Sunday Herald Sunday 5 April 1953 p 12
  2. 'FIVE AUSTRALIAN FILMS IN YEAR "Robbery Under Arms" To Be Included' The Advertiser (Adelaide), Tuesday 9 August 1938 p 21
  3. 'WILL MAHONEY. Australian Film Engagement', The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 10 January 1939 p 9
  4. "Dad Rudd, MP." The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 12 October 1939 p 25
  5. 'DadRudd, M.P ' New Film, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill), Thursday 2 November 1939 Edition: HOME EDITION p 5
  6. 'BERT BAILEY talks about DAD RUDD HE KNOWS MEN ON THE LAND TO-DAY WHO ARE EXACTLY LIKE DAD', The Australian Women's Weekly, Saturday 20 April 1940 Supplement: The Movie World p 39
  7. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p157
  8. 'TALENT IN NEW PICTURE', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane) Thursday 11 April 1940 p10
  9. 'FIRST DAY ON SET. Cinesound's New Comedy.', The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 8 February 1940 p 23
  10. '"Dad Rudd, M.P." Now In Production', The Mercury, Saturday 2 March 1940 p 4
  11. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p155
  12. 'Dam Workers as Film Actors', The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 29 February 1940 p 23
  13. "Electrically-Controlled Blowfly to Worry Comedian!". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 September 1940. p. 12 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  14. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p156
  15. "FOUR LOCAL FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 March 1940. p. 13. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  16. Hall p 156
  17. 'NO MORE FEATURE FILMS. Cinesound Decision', The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 28 June 1940 p 9
  18. Vagg, Stephen (29 July 2019). "Unsung Aussie Filmmakers – Grant Taylor: A Top Ten". Filmink.
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