Uncivilised (film)

Uncivilised is a 1936 Australian film directed by Charles Chauvel. It was an attempt by Chauvel to make a more obviously commercial film, and was clearly influenced by Tarzan.[3]

Uncivilised
Directed byCharles Chauvel
Produced byCharles Chauvel
Written byE. V. Timms
Charles Chauvel[1]
StarringDennis Hoey
Margot Rhys
Music byLindley Evans
CinematographyTasman Higgins
Edited byFrank Coffey
Mona Donaldson
Production
company
Expeditionary Films
Distributed byUniversal Pictures (Australia)
Box Office Attractions (US)
Umbrella Entertainment
Release date
September 1936 (Australia)
March 1942 (US)[2]
Running time
82 minutes (Aust)
77 minutes (US)
CountryAustralia
LanguageEnglish
Budget£20,000[3]

The film is known as Uncivilized and Pituri in the United States.

Plot summary

Successful author Beatrice Lynn is commissioned by her publisher to go to the Outback and locate the legendary white man, Mara, who heads an aboriginal tribe. Travelling by camel, she is abducted by an Afghan, Akbar Jhan and his group of aboriginals who provide pituri, a narcotic to aboriginals. Previously not allowed into Mara's tribal land to sell his wares, Akbar Jhan has schemed to use Beatrice, a white woman to arouse Mara's interest.

Meanwhile, the Australian Mounted Police has its hands full with a missing Inspector, an international drug ring, and a tribe of hostile aboriginals led by the savage Moopil who have killed two prospectors as well as searching for the missing Beatrice.

Mara buys Beatrice from the Afghans and the two fall in love.

Cast

  • Margot Rhys as Beatrice Lynn
  • Dennis Hoey as Mara the White Chief
  • Ashton Jarry as The Mounted Policeman – posing as Akbar Jhan the White Slaver
  • Marcelle Marnay as Sondra the Half-Caste
  • Kenneth Brampton as Trask the Opium Smuggler
  • Victor Fitzherbert as John Hemmingway, publisher
  • Edward Howell as Vitchi the Witch Doctor
  • Edward Sylveni as Salter
  • Frank Dwyer as Bloom, a prospector
  • Rita Aslim as Nardin
  • John Fernside as Captain
  • Jessica Malone as Hemmingway's Secretary
  • Richard Mazar as Tong
  • Z. Gee as Tiki
  • David McNiven
  • Norman Rutledge

Production

After making Heritage, Expeditionary Films were in an expansive mood and increased their capital from £15,000 to £50,000. They announced they had signed a contract with E. V. Timms to provide a story, and also planned to make a movie about contemporary city life. The second project was never made.[4]

In July 1935 Chauvel announced the film would be called Uncivilised and concern a white man who grows up among the natives in Northern Queensland.[5] By October he had cast Margot Rhys, who had been in Heritage, and Dennis Hoey, who was imported from England.

Chauvel commenced location filming on Palm Island that month.[6] Location shooting went for six weeks, with the use of aboriginal actors was strictly controlled by the Aboriginal Control Board.[7][8]

Interior scenes were shot at the newly constructed National Studios at Pagewood – it was the first production shot there. Aboriginal actors were brought down from Queensland to act in the studio scenes.[9]

During filming, an animal trainer was attacked by a python, but he recovered and went back to worth.[10] After ten weeks in the studio, Chauvel then shot additional scenes at Burragong Valley[11] and the Royal National Park.[12]

Release

Chauvel showed preview scenes to the press in May.[13]

Uncivilised had to have two scenes excised by the censor for export. One scene was Margot Rhys swimming in the nude, another was a strangulation of an aborigine.[14][15] No cuts were required in Victoria.[16]

Reviews were mixed.[17]

US Release

The film was released in the US and performed well at the box office.[18] However Expeditionary Films had sold the rights and benefited little from this. The company soon wound up and made no more movies.[3]

The film was re-released in Los Angeles in March 1942 as Pituri and played on a double bill with Black Dragons.[19] The Los Angeles Times called it "a fast moving story whose elements maybe a little shopworn but which appeared new against the unusual background... picture proves that when the Australians get into their real stride as picture makers they will be second to none: for acting, production and photography are second to none."[20] This version screened in New York the following year.[21]

The film is now in the public domain.

Soundtrack

Dennis Hoey's Mala character sings several songs in the manner of Paul Robeson.

Novel

A novelisation of the script was published in 1936. Authorship was attributed solely to Charles Chauvel but it is believed the book was written by Timms.[22]

Notes

  1. Copyright registration at National Archives of Australia
  2. Hollywood Trip Nervous Job for Air Marshal Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Mar 1942: 13
  3. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 173.
  4. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 31 January 1935. p. 13. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  5. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 19 July 1935. p. 5. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  6. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 9 October 1935. p. 8. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  7. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 15 October 1935. p. 12. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  8. "NATIVE ACTORS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 18 November 1935. p. 17. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  9. "ABORIGINES". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 26 November 1935. p. 11. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  10. "BITTEN BY PYTHON". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 10 January 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  11. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 30 January 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  12. "AUSTRALIAN FILM". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 7 February 1936. p. 13. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  13. ""UNCIVILISED."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 23 May 1936. p. 23. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  14. p.108 Reade, Eric History and Heartburn: The Saga of Australian Film 1896-1978 1980 Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
  15. "EXPORT OF FILM BANNED". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 22 September 1936. p. 11. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  16. ""UNCIVILISED."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 16 October 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  17. "FILM REVIEWS". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 28 September 1936. p. 4. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  18. STALKING THE ABORIGINE POPE, QUEINTIN. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Apr 1937: 4X
  19. 'GOLD RUSH' CLEVER REVIVAL Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Mar 1942: A9
  20. Fascinating Film Opens Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Mar 1942: 9
  21. Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 May 1943: 23
  22. Uncivilised the novel at AustLit

Novelistaion

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