Rangle River

Rangle River is a 1936 Australian Western film directed by Clarence G. Badger based on a story by Zane Grey.

Rangle River
Directed byClarence G. Badger
Written byCharles Chauvel
Elsa Chauvel
Based onstory by Zane Grey
StarringVictor Jory
Robert Coote
CinematographyErrol Hinds
Edited byFrank Coffey
Columbia Pictures
National Studios
Distributed byColumbia Pictures (Australia, UK & US)
J.H. Hoffberg (US reissue)
Release date
19 December 1936 (Australia)[1]
1937 (UK)
1939 (US)
Running time
86 minutes


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.


  • Victor Jory as Dick Drake
  • Margaret Dare as Marion Hastings
  • Robert Coote as Reggie Mannister
  • Cecil Perry as Donald Lawton
  • George Bryant as Dan Hastings
  • Leo Cracknell as Barbwire
  • Georgie Stirling as Minna
  • Rita Pauncefort as Aunt Abbie
  • Stewart McColl as Black


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).[4]

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).[5] 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.[6] The director was imported from Hollywood, as was star Victor Jory.[7]

The female lead was given to a Sydney girl, Peggy Barnes, who changed her name to Margaret Dare.[8] She was signed to a three-year contract with National Studios but asked to be released from it.[9]

Although there was some talk the film would be made in Queensland[10] it was eventually shot on location near Gloucester and in the Burragorang Valley.[2][11]

Victor Jory was fined for speeding while driving in Sydney.[12]

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."[13]


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".[14]

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."[15]

Overseas Release

It was released in the UK after some cuts were made by the censor[16] (notably of the whip fighting scene[17]) and was issued in the US in 1939 as Men with Whips.

Proposed Sequel

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.[18]

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.[19]

Clarence Badger settled in Australia but only made one more feature, That Certain Something (1941).


  1. "AMUSEMENTS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 11 December 1936. p. 13. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  2. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 176.
  3. "FILM-MAKING IN AUSTRALIA". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 29 May 1936. p. 22. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  4. Paul Byrnes, 'Rangle River' at Australian Screen Online accessed 27 December 2011
  5. "AMERICAN ACTOR FOR AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 2 June 1936. p. 24 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  6. "Girl Star May Fly From England." The Mail (Adelaide) 6 Jun 1936: 23 accessed 26 December 2011
  7. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 29 June 1936. p. 3. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  8. "SYDNEY GIRL". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 11 July 1936. p. 11. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  9. "MISS MARGARET DARE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 29 October 1936. p. 5. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  10. "FEATURE FILM TO BE MADE IN QUEENSLAND". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 5 June 1936. p. 19. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  11. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 30 July 1936. p. 4. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  12. "VICTOR JORY FINED". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 1 October 1936. p. 9. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  13. Hedda Hopper's HOLLYWOOD Los Angeles Times 8 Apr 1941: A13.
  14. "FILM REVIEWS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 21 December 1936. p. 5. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  15. Vagg, Stephen (24 July 2019). "50 Meat Pie Westerns". Filmink.
  16. ""RANGLE RIVER."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 31 March 1937. p. 14. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  17. STUDIO AND SCREEN: Censorship--Document and story--Garbo'S next Film The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 24 June 1937: 12.
  18. "QUOTA FILMS. CONFERENCE URGED". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 1 April 1937. p. 10. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  19. "SOCIAL and PERSONAL". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 8 January 1937. p. 5. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
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