The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934 film)

The Silence of Dean Maitland is a 1934 Australian film directed by Ken G. Hall, and based on Maxwell Gray's novel of the same name. It was one of the most popular Australian films of the 1930s.

The Silence of Dean Maitland
Directed byKen G. Hall
Produced byKen G. Hall
Written byGayne Dexter
Edmund Barclay
Based onplay adapted from the novel by Maxwell Gray
StarringJohn Longden
Jocelyn Howarth
Bill Kerr
Music byHamilton Webber
CinematographyFrank Hurley
Edited byWilliam Shepherd
Distributed byBritish Empire Films (Australia)
RKO (England)
Release date
May 1934 (Australia)
1935 (UK)
Running time
97 mins
Box office£33,000 (Aust)[4][5]
£40,000 (UK)[6][5]


Cyril Maitland is a clergyman living in a small seaside town, who impregnates the beautiful Alma Lee despite being engaged to another woman. When Alma's father Ben finds out about the pregnancy, he attacks Maitland and is killed in a fall. Mailtand's best friend, Doctor Henry Everard, gets the blame, and spends twenty years in jail while Maitland's career thrives.




The script was based on a play adapted from a popular novel by Maxwell Gray which had previously been filmed in 1914. The rights to the play were owned by a friend of Stuart F. Doyle's, Joe Lippmann. Hall and Doyle went to see a production of the play at the Rockdale Amateur Society and "ended up in a fit of controllable laughter."[7] However Hall recognised that the basic structure of the piece was solid. He arranged for the play to be adapted into a screenplay by ABC radio writer Edmund Barclay and an old friend of Hall's Gayne Dexter


The film was meant to be Cinesound's follow up to On Our Selection but Hall had trouble finding appropriate actors to play the leads, and so made The Squatter's Daughter instead.[8][9] Eventually, John Longden and Charlotte Francis, English actors touring Australia in a play, were cast.[10] Jocelyn Howarth, who had leapt to fame in The Squatter's Daughter, was given a support role.[11]

Longden was paid £60 a week, a relatively high fee for Australian films.[3]


The movie was shot on location in Camden and at Cinesound's studios in Bondi. Filming took ten weeks.[12]


Censorship troubles

Ken G. Hall ran into trouble with the censor over scenes where Charlotte Francis swims on the beach and later seduces the clergyman.[13] However, Cinesound appealed and these scenes ended up staying in the final film. A brief shot in which Alma's towel slips while she is changing was removed.[14][15]

Box office

Released on a double bill with the variety short Cinesound Varieties, the film was highly popular at the local box office and achieved release in England;[1] in fact, Hall says box office receipts were higher in England than in Australia.[7]

By the end of 1934 The Silence of Dean Maitland had earned an estimated £22,000 at the Australian box office and a profit of £4,300;[2][3] in 1952 Hall claimed the film had earned just under ₤50,000 in Australia.[16]

The movie was being screened in cinemas as late as 1940.[17]


The movie came second place in a 1935 Commonwealth film competition, winning £1,250. First prize went to Heritage (1935).[18] The judges said the film:

Had well-acted passages of strong drama. The continuity was workmanlike, music was judiciously used, and some of the outdoor scenes were very pleasant. The story was its weakest point, because of the old-fashioned melodrama, bristling with Improbabilities and often over-sentimental.[19]

The intention was for Cinesound to follow this movie with an adaptation of Robbery Under Arms[20] but uncertainty over whether films about bushrangers were still banned led the company to make Strike Me Lucky (1934) instead.


  1. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 165.
  2. "Counting the Cash in Australian Films"', Everyones 12 December 1934 p 19-20
  3. "Film Industry In Australia". The News. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 11 June 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  4. Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1989 p 146
  5. The Home : an Australian quarterly, Art in Australia, 1920, retrieved 29 March 2019
  6. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Landsdowne Press, 1977 p88.
  7. Philip Taylor, 'Ken G. Hall', Cinema Papers January 1974 p 81
  8. "CINESOUND LTD". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 7 December 1932. p. 15. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  9. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 19 September 1932. p. 6. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  10. "JOHN LONGDEN". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 26 June 1933. p. 4. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  11. "STAGE [?] SCRREEN". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 7 December 1933. p. 9 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  12. "FINAL SCENES". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 25 February 1934. p. 31. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  13. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 11 May 1934. p. 11. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  14. Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p 87
  15. ""THE SILENCE OF DEAN MAITLAND"". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 17 May 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  16. "THE RESEARCH BUREAU HOLDS AN AUTOPSY". Sunday Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 17 February 1952. p. 11. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  17. "AMUSEMENTS". Daily Advertiser. Wagga Wagga, NSW: National Library of Australia. 1 November 1940. p. 2. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  18. "HERITAGE THE BEST FILM". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 8 March 1935. p. 13. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  19. "REPORT ON FILM COMPETITION". The Examiner. Launceston, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 30 May 1935. p. 9 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  20. '"THE SILENCE OF DEAN MAITLAND" FILMED IN RECORD TIME IN SYDNEY.' The West Australian (Perth) 16 Mar 1934: 3
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