The Man from Snowy River (1982 film)

The Man from Snowy River is a 1982 Australian Western and drama film based on the Banjo Paterson poem "The Man from Snowy River". Released by 20th Century Fox, the film had a cast including Kirk Douglas in a dual role as the brothers Harrison (a character who appeared frequently in Paterson's poems) and Spur, Jack Thompson as Clancy, Tom Burlinson as Jim Craig, Sigrid Thornton as Harrison's daughter Jessica, Terence Donovan as Jim's father Henry Craig, and Chris Haywood as Curly. Both Burlinson and Thornton later reprised their roles in the 1988 sequel, The Man from Snowy River II, which was released by Walt Disney Pictures.

The Man from Snowy River
Australian DVD cover
Directed byGeorge T. Miller
Produced byGeoff Burrowes
Michael Edgley
Simon Wincer
Screenplay byJohn Dixon
Story byFred Cul Cullen
Based onThe Man from Snowy River
by Banjo Paterson
Music byBruce Rowland
CinematographyKeith Wagstaff
Edited byAdrian Carr
Distributed by
Release date
  • 25 March 1982 (1982-03-25) (Australia)
  • 5 November 1982 (1982-11-05) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
BudgetA$3 million (est.)[1] or $3.5 million[2]
Box officeA$50 million[3]


When Jim Craig and his father Henry are discussing their finances, a herd of wild horses called the Brumby mob passes by, and Henry wants to shoot the black stallion leader, but Jim convinces his father to capture and sell them. The next morning the mob reappears and Henry is accidentally killed. Before Jim can inherit the station, a group of mountain men tell him that he must first earn the right – and to do so he must go to the lowlands and work. Jim meets an old friend called Spur, a one-legged miner. Jim then gets a job on a station owned by Harrison, Spur's brother, on a recommendation by Harrison's friend. Meanwhile, Clancy appears at Spur's mine and the two discuss their pasts and futures. Clancy goes to Harrison's station to lead a cattle muster. At dinner, Harrison tells Clancy that "he has no brother" when referring to Spur.

Harrison organises a round-up of his cattle, but Jim is not allowed to go. While the others are gone, Harrison's daughter Jessica asks Jim to help her break in a prize colt. The mob appears again, and Jim unsuccessfully gives chase to the valuable horse. When Harrison returns, he sends Jim to bring back 20 strays. Later, Harrison learns of Jim's actions and tells Jessica that Jim will be fired and that she will be sent to a women's college. Impulsively, she rides off into the mountains where she is caught in a storm.

Spur, meanwhile, finally strikes a large gold deposit. Jim finds Jessica's horse and rescues her. She tells him that he's going to be fired, but he still leaves to return the cattle. Jessica is surprised at meeting Spur, her uncle, whom she had never been told about. She is also confused when Spur mistakes her for her dead mother and refuses to tell her anything about his past. After returning, Jessica learns that Spur and Harrison both fell in love with her mother, Matilda. Matilda declared that the first to make his fortune would be her husband. Spur went looking for gold, while Harrison bet his life savings on a horse race. Harrison became rich overnight when the horse he bet on won. Having made his fortune, Harrison wed Matilda, but she died while delivering Jessica. Harrison is grateful to Jim for returning his daughter, but he becomes angry when Jim says he loves her. As Jim leaves, a prized colt is let loose by a farmhand named Curly in the hope that Jim will be blamed.

Later, while camping out, Spur tells Jim that he will inherit his father's share of the mine. Clancy joins them and informs them of the colt, but Jim refuses to retrieve the animal. Meanwhile, Harrison offers a reward of £100, attracting riders and fortune-hunters from every station in the area. Clancy does eventually show, accompanied by Jim, whom Harrison finally allows to join the hunt. Several riders have accidents in pursuit and even Clancy is unable to contain the Brumby mob. The riders give up when the mob descends a seemingly impassable grade. However, Jim goes forward and returns the horses to Harrison's farm. Harrison offers him the reward but he refuses. Having cleared his name, Jim would like to return some day for the horses and, looking at Jessica, "anything else that's mine." He rides back up to the mountain country, knowing that he has earned his right to live there.



According to Geoff Burrowes, the idea to make the film came at a dinner party when someone suggested the poem would make a good movie. Burrowes developed a treatment with George Miller then hired John Dixon to write a screenplay. All three men had worked together in television; another former TV colleague, Simon Wincer, became involved as executive producer with Michael Edgley and succeeded in raising the budget.[1][4][5]

The screenplay contains numerous references to Banjo Paterson, aside from using his poem "The Man from Snowy River" as the source material and his inclusion as a character in the film. For example, the numerous references to the late Matilda are likely a reference to the song "Waltzing Matilda", which was written by Paterson. In addition, the melody for "Waltzing Matilda" can be heard near the end of the film. A Bible Passage from Genesis 30:27, which talks about cattle, goats, and sheep is read aloud in a scene in the middle of the film.

The film was not shot in the actual Snowy Mountains but in the Victorian High Country near Mansfield, Victoria, where Burrowes' wife's family had lived for several generations, which was logistically easier.[1][6] Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum were considered for the dual role of Harrison and Spur before Kirk Douglas was cast in the roles.

Tom Burlinson has confirmed that it was definitely him who rode the horse down the side of the mountain for the "terrible descent" during the dangerous ride—commenting that he had been asked about this numerous times, and that he became known as "The Man from Snowy River" because of his ride.[7] Burlinson had ridden a horse only a few times before being cast in the film. He was taught to ride by mountain cattleman Charlie Lovick, who owned the buckskin horse Burlinson rode in the film. Gerald Egan doubled for Burlinson for several riding shots in the film, including the jump into the "terrible descent". Other moments in the film such as when Jim is thrown over the fence into the path of the brumbies were performed by professional stunt men. Nevertheless, Burlinson did much more of the action riding in the film than an actor normally would, including all the profile shots of the downhill ride.


Bruce Rowland composed the music for both the film and the sequel.


The film "was released to a fair degree of critical acclaim" and "moviegoers found it to be a likable and highly entertaining piece of filmmaking that made no effort to hide its Australian roots, despite the presence of American star Kirk Douglas in one of the principal roles."[8] The film has a rating of 80% on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[9] One review of the movie comments[10] stated, "The Australian film industry has been responsible for many decent films for decades (and some utter crap, of course), but the percentage with international appeal is quite small. That is changing, and it is films such as The Man From Snowy River that have ensured ongoing interest. The film was inspired by the ‘Banjo’ Paterson poem of the same name, and stars numerous respected local talents and a Hollywood big name star in Kirk Douglas, playing two roles.'' The two standouts of this film are the majestic mountain scenery, and the final chase scenes with that awe-inspiring horse ride down the mountainside. The film stars many big names and familiar faces including Gus Mercurio (Paul's father), Lorraine Bayley (The Sullivans), Tony Bonner (Skippy) and Chris Haywood. The sets and costumes are also great, the script is strong, and the various threads that run through the film are well handled."

Box office

The Man From Snowy River was a box office success, grossing A$17,228,160 at the box office in Australia[11] – the highest-grossing Australian film until Crocodile Dundee was released four years later. [12][3] It was the second highest-grossing film in Australia, after E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.[3]

The film grossed A$33 million outside Australia, for a worldwide total of A$50 million,[3] including US$20,659,423 from the United States and Canada.[13]

Kirk Douglas sued Burrowes for a share of the profits.[14]

Awards and nominations


As indicated by its box office takings, The Man from Snowy River gained a very large audience, popularising the story and Banjo Paterson's poem. Since 1995 the story has been re-enacted at The Man From Snowy River Bush Festival in Corryong, Victoria.[15] Jack Thompson who played Clancy in the film has released recordings of a number of Banjo Paterson poems including Clancy of the Overflow and The Man from Snowy River on the album The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson.[16]

The Craigs' Hut building was a permanent fixture created for the film. Located in Clear Hills, east of Mount Stirling, Victoria, the popular 4WD and hiking landmark was destroyed on 11 December 2006 in bushfires.[17] The hut has since been rebuilt. The film was selected for preservation as part of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's Kodak/Atlab Cinema Collection Restoration Project.

For the 2000 Summer Olympics Rowland composed a special Olympics version of The Man from Snowy River "Main Title" for the Olympic Games, which were held in Sydney. The CD of the music for the Sydney Olympics includes the Bruce Rowland's special Olympic version of the main title. Rowland composed special arrangements of some of the film soundtrack music for the 2002 musical version of The Man from Snowy River, The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular.


  1. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990, pp. 64–66
  2. "LIFE STYLE Man From Snowy River — 'a remarkable movie'". The Canberra Times. 26 January 1983. p. 20. Retrieved 24 December 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "Disney Gets Rights To 'Snowy River II'". Variety. 10 February 1988. p. 5.
  4. "Young actors tipped for plum roles". The Australian Women's Weekly. 19 November 1980. p. 32 Supplement: FREE Your TV Magazine. Retrieved 24 December 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Ride the High Country". Filmnews. Sydney. 1 September 1982. p. 8. Retrieved 24 December 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "ON THE SET OF 'THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER [?]". The Australian Women's Weekly. 6 May 1981. p. 16. Retrieved 24 December 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  7. How The Hell Did We Get Here?—The Baby Boomers Guide to the Movies
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 January 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. The Man from Snowy River, archived from the original on 29 November 2017, retrieved 29 September 2017
  10. Design, Steve Koukoulas – RED5 Web. " : The Man From Snowy River (1982) - DVD Review". Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  11. "Film Victoria // supporting Victoria's film television and games industry - Film Victoria" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  12. adam.blackshaw (21 April 2018). "The Man From Snowy River rides again". Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  13. The Man from Snowy River at Box Office Mojo
  14. "Douglas has been paid, says producer". The Canberra Times. 30 August 1983. p. 15. Retrieved 24 December 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  15. The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival Archived 16 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Australias Favourite Poems on CD: Read By Jack Thompson - Fine Poets". Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  17. Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2006, Bushfires ravage iconic Craig's Hut Archived 27 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.