The Man from Snowy River (1920 film)

The Man from Snowy River is a 1920 film made in Australia. The film was silent and filmed in black and white, and was based on the Banjo Paterson poem of the same name.[3] It is considered a lost film.

The Man from Snowy River
Original advertisement
Directed byBeaumont Smith
John K Wells
Produced byBeaumont Smith
Written byBeaumont Smith
Based onpoem by Banjo Paterson
StarringCyril Mackay
Stella Southern
Tal Ordell
Hedda Barr
John Cosgrove
CinematographyLacey Percival
Al Burne
Production
company
Beaumont Smith's Productions
Release date
28 August 1920[1][2]
Running time
5,500 feet
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish

Plot

A country boy, Jim Conroy, is living a dissolute life in the city, running around with vamp Helen Ross. When his father cuts him off, he is dumped by Helen and returns to the bush.

Jim works for a corrupt squatter, Stingey Smith, and falls in love with Kitty Carewe, daughter of John Carewe, the squatter next door. John is impressed with Jim's skill with a horse and invites him to train his finest horse, "Swagman", hoping to win enough prize money to save his farm.

A jealous farm hand plots with Smith to fix the race so that the latter can take over the Carewe farm, letting "Swagman" go and run with the brumbies. However Jim rescues the horse and rides it to victory.

Smith frames Jim for theft but he is proved innocent and Jim marries Kitty.

Cast

  • Cyril Mackay as Jim Conroy
  • Stella Southern as Kitty Carewe
  • Tal Ordell as Stingey Smith
  • Hedda Barr as Helen Ross
  • John Cosgrove as Saltbush Bill
  • Robert MacKinnon as Dick Smith
  • John Faulkner as John Carewe
  • Charles Beetham as Bill Conroy
  • Dunstan Webb as Ryan
  • Nan Taylor as Mrs Potts
  • James Coleman as Trooper Scott
  • Con Berthal as cook

Production

Development

Beaumont Smith bought the film rights to all the works of Banjo Paterson and spent two years writing a script. The copyright was held by Angus Robertson in entirety but they passed some of the money on to Paterson.[4]

Smith incorporated characters from various Paterson works, including squatter's daughter, Kitty Carewe, and swagman, Saltbush Bill. The character of Helen Ross, however, was Smith's original invention.[5]

Smith later claimed the price of the film rights was the highest ever that had been paid in Australian cinema, with the exception of The Sentimental Bloke (1919).[6]

In January 1919 Snowy Baker announced he would star in the film based on Smith's script. It was reported that "a start has already been made with the picture on Mr. Erie McKellar's station, where every facility is offered for the aiming of such thrills as the great ride from "Rio Grande," the bushranging scenes from "Conroy's Gap," and the tight from "Salt Bush Bill." Smith said the film would incorporate matters he had learned in America and would be released via E.J. Carroll.[7][8]

However Baker wound up not appearing in the film. In November 1919 Smith announced he would make the movie in Hollywood, as an attempt to break into the US market.[9]

He left in November 1919 but returned to Sydney within six months, bringing back with him a documentary about Hollywood, A Journey through Filmland, which he released in Sydney in February 1921.[10]

In March 1920 he announced he would make the film in Australia.[11] In May 1920 it was reported fIlming was delayed by the unavailability of film stock.[12]

Casting

Smith used American talent available in Australia, including John K. Wells, who was assisting Wilfred Lucas on the Snowy Baker movies, and visiting actress Hedda Barr. (At one stage it was announced Snowy Baker would star but this did not eventuate.[13])

Cyril Mackay was a stage actor who had retired after suffering a nervous breakdown. He came out of retirement to play the role.[14]

The movie marks the film debut of movie star Stella Southern, who was working as a shop girl when discovered by Smith; he gave her the name for this film.[15]

" “I believe it to be absolutely real,” said Smith, “honest Australian, without any artificiality, burlesque, or exaggeration of types. There are no bushrangers, there are only true Australian people, and the film is as clear as the air of Kosciusko itself, and I believe the public will like it be cause of this.” [16]

Shooting

Shooting began in June 1920 on location at Mulgoa, Wallacia and Luddenham in the Blue Mountains.[17][18]

In order to obtain footage for the climactic race, Smith held a race day and invited horsemen from the local area to participate in four races at Luddenham.[19]

Reception

Critical

Smith's Weekly praised the movie saying it had:

Charming scenery, helped by clever photography and lighting. The story i» wholesomely exciting, with touches of kindlyhumour. The acting is excellent, though no great demands are ' made on those concerned...Mr. Smith is wise to show bush folk inan attractive light, whilst sacrificing nothing of the Australian atmosphere. Here, at last, is a picture, not only for local consumption, but one that will be welcomed overseas.[20]

Everyone's called the film:

A top-notch Australian production that revives one’s hopes for the establishment of a great movie industry in the Commonwealth. Beaumont Smith shows... what can be done with Australian scenery for backgrounds, and an Australian poem as the pivot for an interesting plot characterised by quick action. Thq, personalities of Paterson’s verses are skilfully interwoven with a story into which the woman interest "is cleverly in troduced... City and country alike will hail the ’’Man from Snowy River” scenically, and in both photographic and acting senses as the best Australian movie yet.[21]

Proposed Sequel

When Smith finished the film he announced plans for a sequel Clancy of the Overflow. but this was never made.[22]

See also

References

  1. "Advertising". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 23 August 1920. p. 2. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  2. Ross Cooper,"Filmography: Beaumont Smith", Cinema Papers, March–April 1976 p333
  3. ""THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER" AT WEST'S". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 17 November 1920. p. 8. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  4. "BIG GAME HUNTING in London". Smith's Weekly. XXX, (7). New South Wales, Australia. 17 April 1948. p. 7. Retrieved 14 April 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  5. ""THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER" AT WEST'S". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 17 November 1920. p. 8. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  6. ""THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER."". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 15 November 1920. p. 9. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  7. ""THE MOVING ROW OF MAGIC SHADOW SHAPES"". The Sun (826). New South Wales, Australia. 26 January 1919. p. 20. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER". Sunday Times (1723). New South Wales, Australia. 26 January 1919. p. 14. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "SCREENERY". Smith's Weekly. I, (36). New South Wales, Australia. 1 November 1919. p. 20. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 99.
  11. "LAWSON STORIES TO BE FILMED". Smith's Weekly. II, (8). New South Wales, Australia. 17 April 1920. p. 20. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  12. Everyones, Everyones Ltd, 1920, retrieved 24 July 2019
  13. "[?] RECREATION". The Worker. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 13 February 1919. p. 12. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  14. "Cvrii Mackay in Films". Sunday Times (1806). New South Wales, Australia. 5 September 1920. p. 26. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "THE WORLD OF PICTURES". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 28 August 1920. p. 12. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  16. "Screen". Everyones. Everyones Ltd. 1920. p. 11. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  17. "W. C. WILLIAMSON'S "SO-AND-SO'S."". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 6 November 1920. p. 7. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  18. ""THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER."". The World's News (968). New South Wales, Australia. 3 July 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  19. ""THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER."". The Register. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 20 November 1920. p. 11. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  20. "AUSTRALIAN PICTURE AT LAST". Smith's Weekly. ii, (26). New South Wales, Australia. 21 August 1920. p. 20. Retrieved 24 July 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  21. Everyones, Everyones Ltd, 1920, retrieved 24 July 2019
  22. Everyones, Everyones Ltd, 1920, retrieved 24 July 2019

Notes

  • "The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia Theatre . Film . Radio . Television Volume 1" Ann Atkinson, Linsay Knight, Margaret McPhee Allen & Unwin Pty. Ltd., 1996
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