The Glenrowan Affair

The Glenrowan Affair is a 1951 movie about Ned Kelly from director Rupert Kathner. It was Kathner's final film and stars VFL star Bob Chitty as Kelly. It was known as one of the worst films ever made in Australia.[2]

The Glenrowan Affair
Directed byRupert Kathner
Produced byRupert Kathner
Written byRupert Kathner
StarringBob Chitty
Albie Henderson
Narrated byCharles Tingwell
CinematographyRupert Kathner
Harry Malcolm
Edited byAlex Ezard
Production
company
Australian Action Pictures
Distributed byBritish Empire Films
Release date
17 August 1951[1]
Running time
70 minutes
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish

Plot

Artist Rupert Kathner is sketching in near Benalla. He flashes back to the story of Ned Kelly and his gang.

Cast

  • Bob Chitty as Ned Kelly
  • Albie Henderson as Joe Byrne
  • Ben Crowe as Dan Kelly
  • Bill Wright as Steve Hart
  • John Fernside as Father Gibney
  • Charles Tasman as Commissioner Nicholson
    • (However, in reality Nicholson was never Commissioner. He was only a Superintendent, whilst Standish (portrayed as Superintendent in this film) was the Commissioner during the hunt for Kelly and his gang.)
  • Charles Webb as Superintendent Hare
  • Edward Smith as Superintendent Standish
  • Frank Ransome as Sergeant Steele
  • Stan Tolhurst as the blacksmith
  • Beatrice Kay as Kate Kelly
  • Wendy Roberts as Mrs Skillion
  • Rupert Kathner (as "Hunt Angels") as Aaron Sherritt
  • Dore Norris as Mrs Jones
  • Joe Brennan as the bank manager
  • Arthur Helmsley as the old man

A Message to Kelly

A Message to Kelly
Directed byHarry Southwell
Produced byRupert Kathner
Harry Southwell
Written byKeith Maize
StarringBob Chitty
Molly O'Dea[3]
Production
company
Benalla Film Productions
Release date
abandoned
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish
Budget£6,000[4]

In August 1947 Harry Southwell arrived in Benalla, Victoria, to make a movie about the Ned Kelly story, A Message to Kelly. It was base on a script by Melbourne journalist Keith Manzie, with Rupert Kathner as assistant director. Kathner was in the area trying to raise funds for a film about Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Southwell and Kathner formed a company, Benalla Film Productions, and raised finance for the movie.[5] Football star Bob Chitty, who was coaching in the region, was cast as Ned Kelly.[6] Mervyn Murphy assisted with sound recording equipment.[7] Despite vocal opposition from descendants of the Kellys,[8] filming began in September 1947.[9]

In October, Southwell left the project and Kathner took over. In November Benalla announced they wanted a director to replace Kathner.[4]

The Glenrowan Affair

Kathner returned in December 1947 with finance from a new company, Australian Action Pictures, intending to make his own Ned Kelly film, based on his own script. Australian Action Pictures was formed with capital of £25,000.[10] For a time it seemed two rival Kelly films would be made in the area. Advertisements were printed clarifying they would be made by different people.[11]

Eventually Benalla Film Productions ceased production on their Ned Kelly movie and Kathner made his. He used Bob Chitty to play the lead but recast all the other roles, including Carlton footballer Ben Crone.[12]

Filming began January 1948. Exteriors were shot in and around Benalla. Studio scenes were filmed in the new studio of Commonwealth Film Laboratories in Sydney in January 1950.[13]

Reception

Reviews were poor and distribution limited.[4] The critic for the Sun Herald stated that:

This near-unendurable stretch of laboured, amateurish film-making is something that the developing Australian film industry will wish to forget-swiftly and finally... A film made on a shoe-string (as this obviously was) could still achieve a little crude vitality. This one isn't even robust enough for the unconscious humour (and there is plenty of that) to be really enjoyable. The script is dreary, the photography more often out of-focus than in, the editing is unimaginative and the acting petrified. It would be misplaced kindness, in fact, to try and ferret out a redeeming feature.[14]

The film was given its first screening in Victoria at Benalla. Townspeople were worried relatives of the Kellys would cause trouble. However, the screening was accompanied by audience laughter.[15] Nonetheless the screening raised £400 for charity.[16]

References

  1. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 17 August 1951. p. 13. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  2. "Candid Comment". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 6 April 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  3. ""MISS AUSTRALIA" GIRLS MEET KATE KELLY". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 26 September 1947. p. 1 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  4. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 212.
  5. "AN IDEA NOW BECOMES A REALITY". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 29 August 1947. p. 1 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  6. "FORMER FOOTBALLER TO STAR IN FILM". Sunshine Advocate. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 26 September 1947. p. 1. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  7. "Film Flash". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 3 October 1947. p. 5 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  8. "Kelly gang rides again". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 1 April 1952. p. 6. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  9. "Ned Kelly Epic to Boost Australia". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 10 October 1947. p. 1 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  10. "COMPANY NEWS". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 1 June 1948. p. 6. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  11. "Advertising". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 28 November 1947. p. 5 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  12. "Kelly Gang Will Fly To Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 January 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  13. "KELLY GANG FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 6 January 1950. p. 4. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  14. "..REVIEWS OF NEW FILMS IN SYDNEY." The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 19 August 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  15. "Bang! Bang! Again the guns rang out, and one by one they fell, the — Kellys, riddled with laughter". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 4 April 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  16. "'Glenrowan Affair' Raises £400 for Fire Victims". Benalla Ensign. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 10 April 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
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