Thar She Blows!

Thar She Blows! is a 1931 short Australian film, the first production from Cinesound Productions. It is a documentary on the West Australian whaling industry.

Thar She Blows!
Produced byKen G. Hall
Written byKen G. Hall
Narrated byLionel Lunn
CinematographyWalter Sully
Release date
February 1931[1]
Running time
two reels[2]


The action takes place at Point Close station, 500 miles north of Perth. A steamer sights a whale, plunges a harpoon into it, then draws the carcass to the ship's side, whereupon it is attacked by a school of sharks. The whale is towed ashore, where it is stripped of its blubber and prepared for market.[3]


Ken G. Hall got hold of some spectacular footage shot by Walter Sully on board a Norwegian whaler off the coast of West Australia, including scenes of a shark attacking a whale carcass. Hall wrote a commentary, had Lionel Lunn record it, and added a soundtrack to the film. Sound recording was primitive in Australia at the time and Hall could not add music or dub in an effects track.[4][5]


The film was released in support of a Hollywood feature and received good reviews, particularly from Kenneth Slessor, then a critic for Smith's Weekly.[4]

The Sydney Morning Herald called it "an interesting film.[3] The Sydney Mail said it was "a promising example of local synchronisation."[6] The Brisbane Courier said "it is most entertaining from an educational viewpoint. The audience receives an insight into an industry, the value of which is not generally realised, in spite of the fact that it is carried on in Australian waters."[7]

The Adelaide New said that the film was:

Australia's answer to the eternal question, "Why can't we make pictures as good as America?" From a production point or view, the film is 100 per cent perfect... the shots easily eclipse anything of the kind attempted by cinematographers in other parts of the world... The whole production dealing with whaling and especially the scene where a school of sharks attacks a dead whale, could hold its own against any in the world.[8]

This success encouraged Cinesound to make another short, That's Cricket, before moving into feature production with On Our Selection (1932).[4]


  1. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 23 February 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. "EMPIRE TALKIES". The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate. NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 August 1931. p. 4. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  3. "NEW FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 2 March 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  4. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p 55.
  5. "Filming North Australia". The Sydney Mail. NSW: National Library of Australia. 1 April 1931. p. 10. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  6. "At the Pictures". The Sydney Mail. NSW: National Library of Australia. 4 March 1931. p. 16. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. "ENTERTAINMENTS TIVOLI THEATRE". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 31 March 1931. p. 13. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. ""CITY OF SONG" STAR HAILED AS NEW CARUSO". The News. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 11 September 1931. p. 4 Edition: HOME EDITION. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
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