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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Sentimental Bloke (1919) & The Kid Stakes (1927) Australian silent classics

The Sentimental Bloke (1919) is an Australian silent film based on the 1915 poem The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis. It is generally considered the greatest Australian silent film, and one of the best Australian movies of all time.

Directed by Raymond Longford
Starring Arthur Tauchert, Lottie Lyell
Produced by Raymond Longford
Written by Raymond Longford, Lottie Lyell
Based on The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis
Cinematography, Arthur Higgins
Studio: Southern Cross Feature Film Company
Distributed by E.J. Carroll
Release date: 4 October 1919
Running time:
Country: Australia

The Kid Stakes (1927) is based on the Fatty Finn comic strip drawn by Syd Nicholls for the Sydney Sunday News, until his death in 1977. Syd Nicholls is featured in the opening scenes, sketching a cartoon of Fatty.

This charming film is one of the all too few surviving features from Australia's prolific silent film heritage. It's enhanced by the witty inter-titles and gentle humour of the story.

This is unique as a silent film because it is a full feature aimed at children and includes wonderfully fresh performances by the young actors. There are also sub-plots to entertain the adults. Because it was based on the well-known comic strip, the Kid Stakes was very popular at the time

The amusing story centres on the exploits of rivals Fatty Finn and Bruiser Murphy and their gangs who play in the backstreets of Woolloomooloo. Girlfriend troubles, cricket with the local police, a broken window and a chase scene are all part of the action, which culminates with an authentic goat race including bribes and attempts to nobble Fatty's goat, Hector.

This film has all the elements that make the medium such a delight. There's the chase scene, cheeky inter-titles, a tin can band, a dream sequence including Fatty imagining he's a racing car driver, and the genuine goat race, which was actually called the Kid Stakes, filmed in Queensland. It was quite common for silent filmmakers to include actuality in the narrative of their films. Goat races were popular at the time, but this one was filmed in Rockhampton because these races were banned in New South Wales when the film was made.

The Kid Stakes is the only feature film directed by Tal Ordell, who was a popular stage and screen character actor. His son, Robin 'Pop', played the role of Fatty. Location shots in Woolloomooloo and Potts Point illustrate the living standards and social conditions at the time.

Director: Tal Ordell
Producer: Tal Ordell and Virgil Coyle
Cinematographer: Arthur Higgins
Production company: Ordell-Coyle Productions
Art titles: Syd Nicholls
Scenario: Tal Ordell, based on the comic strip by Syd Nicholls

Original Score by Brian Pinette

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