Australian Screen

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The Kid Stakes (1927)

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clip Hector, Hector, Hector! education content clip 2, 3

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

The race is on and Hector looks in trouble. The radio race-caller (Tal Ordell) becomes increasingly excited as Poo, Windbag and Stonker fight for the lead – but Hector isn’t done yet.

Curator’s notes

The race was actually filmed in Rockhampton, Queensland, because goat races were illegal in NSW. Director Tal Ordell gives a sense of his comic talents as the race-caller, but the sequence is well put-together, with a variety of shots calculated to increase the sense of speed and to elongate the sense of time. The titles are also inventively drawn to make use of repetition and exaggeration. This sequence would have been accompanied by a high-energy musical accompaniment, performed live in the theatre.

The film premiered at the Wintergarden Theatre in Brisbane on 9 June 1927, and was moderately profitable – but it has been revived many times in the last 30 years, with great popular success.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This silent black-and-white clip from the film The Kid Stakes shows a goat derby in which Fatty Finn (Pop Ordell) and his goat Hector overtake archrivals Bruiser Murphy (Frank Boyd) and his goat Stonker to win the race. The clip opens with a man writing a humorous notice on a blackboard at the track. It then cuts between shots of the race caller (Tal Ordell), intertitles, cheering spectators and Fatty and Bruiser’s gangs urging on the rivals. Fatty’s gang is dejected as Hector falls behind, but leaps with glee as he makes his run and wins the race.

Educational value points

  • This clip captures the excitement and drama of goat racing from the point of view of the children participating in the race. Goat racing, which was banned in New South Wales at the time, was a popular pastime among Australian children during the early decades of the 20th century. The goat was harnessed to a two-wheeled cart, which was usually hand made. The billycart or go-cart was adapted from and takes its name from the goat cart.
  • The scene is given immediacy through the placement of the camera. Much of the goat race is filmed from within the race itself, with the camera placed either alongside or directly in front of the competitors. While long shots provide an overview, medium shots and medium close-ups of the competitors make the viewer feel part of the race. The sequence may have been shot using a camera mounted on a truck, which may explain the jolting in the footage at one point.
  • Comedy based on visual action and physical humour rather than speech proved ideal for silent film, as this clip shows. The absurd notice telling Mr W Smithers to go home after the race because his house is on fire sets up the tone of the humour, which is conveyed by the farcical situations and the exaggerated facial expressions and physical gestures, including the excitable race caller’s antics and the contrast between the gang’s dejected and then gleeful expressions.
  • The Kid Stakes was based on a popular newspaper comic strip called Fatty Finn created by Syd Nicholls, which first appeared in the Sunday News in 1923 under the title Fat and His Friends. By 1927 when the film was released Fatty and his gang were well known to Australians. The film, like the comic strip, focused on the gang’s exploits around inner-city Sydney, then a working-class area, as well as their encounters with bullies such as Bruiser.
  • The clip reveals how editing and shot selection contribute to storytelling in film – in this case drawing out the tension and drama of the scene. Rapid cuts between the race, medium close-ups of Fatty (his face fixed with determination) and of a defeated Bruiser, long shots of the crowd and medium shots of the increasingly agitated race caller and the rival gangs depict the progress of the race and convey the emotions experienced by Fatty, Bruiser and their gangs.
  • The race caller has a dual role in this clip in that his commentary informs the viewer of the progress of the race (through intertitles), while his intense and increasingly exuberant delivery of the commentary provides much of the comedy. To portray his character’s agitation Tal Ordell, who also directed the film, paces about, waves his arms around and makes use of his mobile facial features, including his wide eyes, arched eyebrows and creased forehead.

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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