Australian film and television chronology
1930: First Australian talkie
Shooting commenced in June 1930 on Showgirl’s Luck, the first full-talkie feature made in Australia. Plagued by technical problems, it was not released until November 1931. Prior to the filming of Showgirl’s Luck, two features with sound segments, Fellers (1930) and The Cheaters (1930), were completed.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 5 ‘The New Pioneers’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 111.
The Fox Film Corporation became the first American distributor to become involved in Australian exhibition when it took controlling interest in Hoyts Theatres Ltd. Resigning as Hoyts’s managing director, FW Thring sold almost all his shares in the company and formed the production company Efftee Film Productions.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 5 ‘The New Pioneers’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 113.
Cinesound Productions was established as the production arm of Greater Union. Promoting itself as a Hollywood-type studio, Cinesound’s first venture was the hit On Our Selection (1932). Between 1932 and 1940 the company released 16 features, of which 15 were financially successful. During the Second World War, Cinesound halted high-cost feature production and concentrated on the Cinesound Review newsreel. Its 1942 newsreel Kokoda Front Line! won an Academy Award for Short Documentary. In 1946 Cinesound produced its final feature Smithy and continued newsreel production until 1970, when it merged with its long-term rival, Movietone News, to form Australian Movie Magazine. All but one of Cinesound’s 17 features were directed by its General Manager, Ken G Hall.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 4 ‘The Royal Commission’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 107, 117, 166, 167.
Cinesound Movietone Australian Newsreel Collection on australianscreen.
1932: ABC radio launched
At 8.00 pm on 1 July 1932, Prime Minister Joseph Lyons inaugurated the non-profit, public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). The first ABC radio brodcasts were carried on the stations 2FC and 2BL in Sydney, 3AR and 3LO in Melbourne, 4QG in Brisbane, 5CL in Adelaide, 6WF in Perth, 7ZL in Hobart and the relay stations 2NC in Newcastle, 2CO at Corowa, 4RK in Rockhampton and 5CK at Crystal Brook. The first programs on air included the Children’s Session with Bobby Bluegum, British Wireless News received via cable from London, and Racing Notes, with WA Ferry calling the Randwick races in Sydney. The ABC launched its television service on 5 November 1956 and was renamed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1983.
History of ABC Radio (ABC website)
1933: Errol Flynn debuts
Tasmanian discovery Errol Flynn made his acting debut in In the Wake of the Bounty (1933), which premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre in Sydney on 15 March 1933. Paid £30 for three weeks work on Charles Chauvel’s first talkie, Flynn’s stiff performance as Fletcher Christian gave little indication that he would become one of the wordd’s biggest movie stars within two years. After appearing in the lost British films I Adore You (1933) and Murder at Monte Carlo (1934), Flynn moved to Hollywood and found almost instant fame playing the lead in the smash hit, Captain Blood (1935). Flynn’s other major hits inclded The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), and Gentleman Jim (1942). In the Wake of the Bounty (1933) was the only Australian film Flynn appeared in. Flynn died in Vancouver on 14 October 1959, aged 50.
Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 161.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 5 ‘The New Pioneers’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 127.
The Internet Movie Database
May Robson’s lead performance as Apple Annie and Mrs E Worthington Manville in Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day (1933) earnt her the distinction of becoming Australia’s first Oscar nominee. Born Mary Jeanette Robison in Melbourne, 1858, Robson moved to the US as a teenager. Her credits include The Angel of Broadway (1928), Dinner At Eight (1933) and Bringing Up Baby (1938).
1934: NSW quota inquiry begins
From 2 January to 20 April 1934, the Inquiry into the Film Industry in New South Wales heard submissions calling for a local quota system to protect Australian films from being locked out of the market by foreign-owned distribution and exhibiton companies. Producer Frank Thring was the most vocal proponent of the action, which resulted in the Cinematograph Films (Australian Quota) Bill being passed in the NSW Parliament on 17 September 1935. Within months of the Act, 11 new production companies were formed.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 5 ‘The New Pioneers’, Currency Press, Sydney, pp 123–125.
The National Historical Film and Speaking Record Library was founded as part of the then Commonwealth National Library. In 1984, the National Film and Sound Archive was created as a separate Commonwealth collecting institution.
1936: Actors' Equity formed
On 25 February 1936, the Actors’ Federation of Australasia (established in 1920) was renamed Actors’ Equity of Australia (AE). The early years of AE(Actors’ Equity) were marked by the dissatisfaction of some members who believed AE(Actors’ Equity) was too closely tied with its supposed adversary, the Theatre Proprietors and Managers’ Association of Australasia. In 1939 trade union officials took control of AE(Actors’ Equity)'s management and the organisation was renamed Actors and Announcers’ Equity of Australia on 5 May 1945. On 14 July 1982, the union assumed its original title, Actors’ Equity of Australia, before becoming part of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance in 1993.
1938: Gough Whitlam film debut
Twenty-one-year-old Gough Whitlam received his first screen credit as 'Man in Nightclub’ in Ken G Hall’s musical melodrama The Broken Melody (1938). In 1974, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam appeared as himself in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974). In the final scene, Whitlam 'officially’ bestowed the title of Dame Edna on Bazza’s Aunt Edna Everage. Other Australian politicians who have appeared in feature films include former Prime Minister John Gorton in Don’s Party (1976), serving Western Australian Premier Sir David Brand in Nickel Queen (1971) and serving South Australian Premier Mike Rann in Dr Plonk (2007).
The Internet Movie Database
Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 181.
1939: Chips Rafferty debuts
Chips Rafferty appeared uncredited as a man in the crowd in Come Up Smiling, also known as Ants In His Pants, which premiered at the Strand Theatre in Hobart on 3 November 1939. Born John Goffage in 1909, the lanky Rafferty became a star in Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940) and pursued a successful career in Australia and Hollywood. The epitome of the 'dinkum Aussie Bloke’, Rafferty crowned his career with a superb performance as the country police officer in Wake In Fright (1971).
Pike, A & Cooper, R 1998, Australian Film 1900–1977, 1st edn, rev. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p 186.
With the onset of the Second World War, film stock shortages were experienced as resources were directed to newsreels and propaganda films. From June 1942 film distribution exchanges provided free film prints to troops in New Guinea and remote parts of Australia. From late 1940, many Australian commercial producers began making propaganda films for the Commonwealth Department of Information.
Shirley, G & Adams, B 1983, Australian Cinema the First Eighty Years, Chapter 7 ‘Renewed Hopes’, Currency Press, Sydney, p 164.