It Is Never Too Late to Mend (1911 film)

It Is Never Too Late to Mend is an Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It was based on a stage adaptation of the popular 1865 novel It Is Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade about convict Australia. The novel has been credited with exposing cruelties in the Australian prison system and having helped end the convict system.[8]

It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Directed byW. J. Lincoln[1]
Produced byJohn Tait
Nevin Tait
Millard Johnson
William Gibson
Written byW. J. Lincoln[2]
Based onthe novel by Charles Reade
adapted into a play by Charles Reade
StarringStanley Walpole
CinematographyOrrie Perry[3]
Production
company
Johnson and Gibson
Distributed byJ & N Tait (Australia)
Sawyer's Pictures (USA)
Release date
7 January 1911 (Sydney)[4]
August 1914 (USA)[5]
Running time
4,000 feet[6]
CountryAustralia
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles
Budget£300-£400[7]

It is considered a lost film.

Plot

The film begins at Grance Farm in England, rented by Georgie and William Fileing. The farm is struggling and the brothers have to sell their new hay to stave off the landlord. The Honorable Frank Winchester contemplates going abroad and asks George to accompany him. However George is in love with his cousin, Susan Merton, and does not want to make the trip.

Susan is also loved by the villainous John Meadows. He refuses to lend money to Georgie and there is an eviction sale on the farm.[9]

George Fielding travels to Australia to make enough money to marry Susan. George discovers gold and a bushranger gang tries to rob him but the other miners come to George's rescue.

There is a subplot about a thief acquaintance of George, Tom Robinson, who is sent to gaol and suffers brutal treatment at the hands of the guards. Susan is about to marry the evil Meadows but he is unmasked at the wedding by Isaac Levy. The wedding goes ahead with Susan marrying George instead.

The film consisted of 60 scenes.[10] It was issued with a summary of the story and featured chapter titles which prepared the audiences for incidents before they happened.[11] It was also often accompanied by a lecturer.

According to The Age "Interesting phases of early Australian life are revealed, including the fascinating stories of the gold discoveries... in the construction of the story for picture purposes, the salient features of the novel have been retained and a descriptive address accompanies the production."[12]

Cast

Production

Stage adaptations of the novel had been popular since 1865.[15]

The film was shot in Melbourne and "enacted by a specially-selected company of Victorian artists"[16] who were "a selected metropolitan company of 60 performers."[10]

Reception

Box Office

The movie debuted at the Olympia Theatre in Haymarket, Sydney in January 1911.[17] A lecturer accompanied screenings and would explain the action that took place.

The movie broke box office records at the Olympia.[18][19] It later drew strong crowds in Melbourne as well.[20][21]

Critical

The Bulletin called it:

An interesting piece... adapted by W.J. Lincoln for dumb show purposes, and Johnson and Gibson had prepared three or four thousand feet of photographs for reproduction on the screen. The picture promised well for the future of the Australian “art film” industry. Theadapter has “potted” the novel, rather than the drama of the same name, and done it very well. The actors look their parts and play them dramatically, and the heroine, who is a first consideration and the only girl in the piece, fills the bill quite charmingly. For about an hour “It’s Never Too Late To Mend ” kept a packed house interested. A man with a ripe, sonorous voice supplied brief descriptive details, and kept the story in a state of coherency, the only noticeable shortcoming being the absence of a moral tag, to the effect that the conversion of the English thief, Tom Robinson, had been fully completed in The Sunny South.[22]

The Sydney Sunday Times said there "was special performances by a company of Australian actors."[23]

Melbourne's Table Talk called it "a most gratifying success in all ways. The pictures are clear and the acting is adequate, while to our ideas it is more natural, for it has not the Gallic mannerisms and excessive gesture noticeable in some of the imported pictorial dramas, which are usually interpreted by French artists."[24]

The Riverine Herald stated "the cast was well chosen and well balanced, and the dramatic action of the play was finely brought out."[25]

The Launceston Examiner said "in its construction the adapter has endeavoured to retain all the main and most salient features of the novel, allowing for the bridging over of many incidents, to make a natural sequence and clear-cut story."[26]

The Launceston Daily Telegraph said the novel had been "exceedingly well adapted by W. J. Lincoln... [a] magnificent pictorial representation, so full of strong human interest".[20]

USA Release

The film was released in the USA in August 1914.[5]

Legacy

The box office success of the film encouraged the Tait brothers and Millard and Johnson to appoint Lincoln as the main director for their new company, Amalgamated Pictures, which operated for over a year.[27]

References

  1. "PORT EMPIRE PICTURE PALACE". Daily Herald. Adelaide. 20 February 1912. p. 6. Retrieved 18 June 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 January 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "OUR FILM JUBILEE". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 9 September 1951. p. 9. Retrieved 26 October 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  4. Mary Bateman, 'W. J. Lincoln', Cinema Papers, June–July 1980 p 174
  5. http://lantern.mediahist.org/catalog/movingpicturewor21newy_0545
  6. "AMUSEMENTS". The Examiner (DAILY ed.). Launceston, Tasmania. 20 May 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 12 January 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  7. The bulletin, John Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 1880, retrieved 14 March 2019
  8. 'POWERFUL BOOKS. And the Miracles They Performed.' Camperdown Chronicle, Tuesday 20 February 1934 p 3
  9. ""NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND."". The Bendigo Independent (12533). Victoria, Australia. 25 February 1911. p. 5. Retrieved 8 March 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "THE Mildura 'Cultibator.'". The Mildura Cultivator. Vic. 22 July 1911. p. 7. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "Wonderland Pictures". The Mildura Cultivator. Vic. 29 July 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 28 January 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "AUSTRALIAN MADE PICTURES". The Age. Melbourne. 20 February 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 27 July 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "LIFE & LETTERS". The West Australian. Perth. 4 May 1946. p. 5. Retrieved 16 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  14. Everyones, Everyones Ltd, 1920, retrieved 14 March 2019
  15. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 August 1867. p. 8. Retrieved 6 December 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "TIVOLI THEATRE". Bendigo Advertiser. Vic. 27 February 1911. p. 7. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  17. "OLYMPIA THEATRE". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 January 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  18. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 January 1911. p. 1. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  19. "OLYMPIA THEATRE". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 January 1911. p. 14. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  20. "MUSIC, ART, AND DRAMA". The Daily Telegraph. Launceston, Tasmania. 24 February 1911. p. 6. Retrieved 25 October 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "Advertising". The Age. Melbourne. 20 February 1911. p. 1. Retrieved 23 September 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  22. The bulletin, John Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 1880, retrieved 14 March 2019
  23. "THE OLYMPIA". The Sunday Times. Sydney. 8 January 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  24. "TAIT'S PICTURES". Table Talk. Melbourne. 23 February 1911. p. 21. Retrieved 1 July 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  25. "The Riverine Herald". Riverine Herald. Echuca, Vic. 27 April 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  26. "AMUSEMENTS". The Examiner (DAILY ed.). Launceston, Tasmania. 20 May 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 29 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  27. Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1989, p42
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