The Pioneers (1926 film)

The Pioneers is a 1926 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford. The script had been written by Lottie Lyell but she had died by the time filming started. It was considered a lost film but some surviving footage from it has recently emerged.[3]

The Pioneers
Directed byRaymond Longford
Produced byRaymond Longford
Written byLottie Lyell
Based onnovel by Katharine Susannah Prichard
StarringWilliam Thornton
Virginia Beresford
CinematographyArthur Higgins
Edited byRaymond Longford
Arthur Higgins
Australasian Films
A Master Picture
Distributed byUnion Theatres
Release date
5 June 1926 (Sydney)[1]
Running time
8,000 feet (approx two hours)[2]
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles


The story of a Scottish settler and his wife, Donald and Mary Cameron, who live in the Gippsland bush, with their son David. They adopt the daughter of an ex-convict and raise him as their own. The daughter and David Cameron fall in love, but she marries another man.[4]


  • Virginia Beresford[5]
  • William Thornton as David Cameron
  • Robert Purdie as Donald Cameron
  • Connie Martyn as Mary Cameron
  • Augustus Neville
  • George Chalmers
  • W. Dummitt
  • 'Big' Bill Wilson
  • Sydney Hackett[6]
  • Phyllis Culbert


Katharine Susannah Prichard's novel had won a ₤1,000 prize in 1915 and had previously been filmed by Franklyn Barrett in 1916.[7]

It was directed by Raymond Longford who in September 1925 had accepted a position of director of productions at Australasian Films. He worked on several films for them but the association ended badly. The director complained that the cast of The Pioneers was forced upon him.

Filming took place on location near Gosford and at Australasian's studios in Bondi Junction in early 1926.[8] During the shooting of one sequence, William Thornton was thrown from his horse and was seriously injured. Because they were so far from a town, first aid was performed by Longford himself, who had had medical training. Longford sewed four stitches into Thornton's head.[9]


The critic for the Sydney Morning Herald wrote that:

Raymond Longford's latest Australian production... is a distinct advance on his last picture, "The Bushwhackers". Its photography and settings are equal to the best American, and a vein of natural sincerity runs right through its acting. The story, too, is more definite. In fact, from the state of having practically no story at all, Mr. Longford has run to the other extreme and tried to bring in too much story, so that after one has been looking at the picture for nearly two hours new issues are still coming in, which would need still another half hour for their adequate solution... Mr. Longford himself seems to have realised that his spectators' patience must be at an end here; for he has suddenly brought the play to a close and left all sorts of important things unexplained... If only The Pioneers could be wound up about half-way or two-thirds of the way through, so as to obviate all this trite melodrama, which has been put in obviously as a sap to the populace, it would stand as a landmark In the history of Australian motion pictures.[10]

Table Talk said the film "presents a vivid story of the old Colonial days in Victoria."[11]

Proposed remake

In 1932 Cinesound Productions announced plans to make a sound version of the novel but no film resulted.[12]


  1. ""THE PIONEERS,"". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 June 1926. p. 9. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "Raymond Longford", Cinema Papers, January 1974 p51
  3. The Pioneers at National Film and Sound Archive
  4. "Amusements Devonport Theatres: "The Pioneers"". The Advocate. Burnie, Tasmania. 9 October 1926. p. 7. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Movie Notes" Cairns Post 6 Jul 1926: 3 accessed 12 December 2011
  6. "THE WINTERGARDEN". The Brisbane Courier. 6 December 1926. p. 15. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "CINEMA NOTES." Camperdown Chronicle (Vic) 29 Jun 1926: 4, accessed 9 December 2011
  8. "MASTER PICTURE NEWS." Queanbeyan-Canberra Advocate 20 May 1926: 1, accessed 9 December 2011
  9. "AMUSEMENTS". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld. 4 February 1927. p. 7. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "NEW FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 June 1926. p. 5. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "The Picture World". Table Talk. Melbourne. 14 October 1926. p. 34. Retrieved 26 October 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Daily News (HOME (FINAL) EDITION ed.). Perth. 1 July 1932. p. 9. Retrieved 4 August 2012 via National Library of Australia.
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