|Directed by||Clarence G. Badger|
|Written by||Charles Chauvel |
|Based on||story by Zane Grey|
|Starring||Victor Jory |
|Edited by||Frank Coffey|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures (Australia, UK & US)|
J.H. Hoffberg (US reissue)
|19 December 1936 (Australia)|
Marion Hastings returns to her father Dan's cattle property in western Queensland after being away in Europe for fifteen years. She is treated with hostility by her father's foreman, Dick Drake, and her father's neighbour, Don Lawton.
The river on the Hastings' property keeps drying up. An English house guest, Reggie Mannister discovers that the river is being dammed by Donald Lawton. Marion goes to investigate as Lawton dynamites his dam. Marion is trapped in the flood. Drake comes her to aid, rescues Marion from drowning and helps defeat Lawton in a whip duel.
Dick and Marion are reunited and walk off into the sunset, with Marion holding the whip, literally.
The movie was partly financed by a Hollywood studio, Columbia, and used an imported American star and director. It was made by National Studios, who owned Pagewood Film Studios and had links with National Productions, the company that made The Flying Doctor (1936).
The original story was written by Zane Grey while at Bermagui during his 1935 fishing tour of Australia, a period which also produced the film White Death (1936). The script was adapted by Charles and Elsa Chauvel. It features a number of stock characters from Australian films and theatre of the time, such as the "squatter's daughter" and the "English new chum".
The role of Marion Hastings was originally offered to Nancy O'Neil, an Australian actor living in England. The director was imported from Hollywood, as was star Victor Jory.
Although there was some talk the film would be made in Queensland it was eventually shot on location near Gloucester and in the Burragorang Valley.
Jory later talked about making the movie to Hedda Hopper and said "the cameraman had never shot an exterior in his life. There was no direction and only a few pages of script. I hadn't contracted for all that. I was no budding Orson Welles but I went there to make a picture and by golly I made one. Of course it didn't get write ups like Citizen Kane but it did get shon."
The movie enjoyed a reasonably successful run in Australia. The critic from the Sydney Morning Herald described it as "the best film that has been produced in Australia so far".
Years later Filmin magazine said "Jory really shouldn’t be playing a romantic male lead but at least he looks like a cowboy; there’s too much screen time devoted to Robert Coote playing a “silly ass” visiting Englishman (this trope was far too common in early Australian cinema) but it is fast paced with action, and features a genuinely kinky duel with whips."
National Studios were keen to do a sequel. A shooting script was written, Clarence Badger agreed to return and by December 1936 an agreement had almost been formed with Columbia Pictures. Then the government announced that the New South Wales Film Quota Act would be not be enforced and Columbia withdrew. Said Frederick Davies of National Studios:
We would go on and produce the picture ourselves, if we could. But, to be quite frank our company cannot obtain enough money from the investors. From the moment when The Burgomeister was rejected by the advisory board, with the consequence that it had to be shelved at a total loss, the public shied away from the business side of Australian motion pictures.
Robert Coote went to Hollywood after filming and enjoyed a long career there. Margaret Dare also left for Los Angeles but seems to have been less successful.
Clarence Badger settled in Australia but only made one more feature, That Certain Something (1941).
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- Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 176.
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- Paul Byrnes, 'Rangle River' at Australian Screen Online accessed 27 December 2011
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- ""RANGLE RIVER."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 31 March 1937. p. 14. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
- STUDIO AND SCREEN: Censorship--Document and story--Garbo'S next Film The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 24 June 1937: 12.
- "QUOTA FILMS. CONFERENCE URGED". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 1 April 1937. p. 10. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
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