Australian Screen

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Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938)

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clip Seeing a man about a dog

Original classification rating: G. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Young Bill Ryan (Peter Finch) comes to see Dad Rudd (Bert Bailey) about marrying his daughter Sarah (Valerie Scanlan). Unfortunately Sarah has always been known as Sal in the family – the same name as the family dog. Dad thinks Bill wants to buy a dog and answers with matter-of-fact advice about animal husbandry. Dave (Fred MacDonald), who is listening in the background, can’t contain his laughter.

Curator’s notes

This was the first real appearance on film of one of the greatest Australian actors of the 20th century, Peter Finch. He had appeared in The Magic Shoes (1935), a fantasy 'quickie’ made earlier at the new National Studios in Pagewood, Sydney, but that film failed to find a distributor. In this scene, he appears opposite another Australian great, the veteran comedian Bert Bailey, who was probably the biggest star of the 1930s in Australian film. The scene gives a great sense of Bailey’s superb comic timing, and is unusually ribald for the time.

Cinesound was always careful about offending audiences. Australian stage comedy of the 1920s – especially in vaudeville – was much bluer than Australian cinema of the 1930s. Cinesound had been stung by the relative lack of success of Strike Me Lucky (1934), featuring Roy Rene, who was the bluest of the vaudeville acts. Ken Hall believed strongly in visual humour but in Bert Bailey, he had an actor of consummate timing in verbal, as well as physical, comedy. This scene is like a throwback to the vaudeville routines of the 1920s. It’s also a sign of Hall’s increased confidence in directing dialogue.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

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