Australian Screen

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George Wallace: Australia’s Premier Comedian (1931)

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The dance of the startled fowl

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

In this filmed stage comedy routine, George Wallace introduces a 'story dance’ called 'Herbert’s first love affair’ which contains a special move called the 'The dance of the startled fowl’. The clip concludes with an accomplished tap dance.

Curator’s notes

Filmed at Frank Thring’s film studios inside His Majesty’s Theatre in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, this vaudevillian comedy act is exemplary of George Wallace’s style. Paul Byrnes notes that many of Wallace’s gestures are modelled on the movements of a small boy, typically one who’s about to be scolded (see Harmony Row, 1933, clip one). Wallace’s verbal diarrhoea and offbeat tangents of thought also resemble those of a child with a very large attention deficit. Wallace frequently appears to be intoxicated (as in Oh, What a Night!, 1932) or on the edge of drunkenness as is the case here. His physical comedy is as accomplished as his verbal acrobatics.

Compare this routine to the one in clip one of His Royal Highness (1932), his first feature film. The introductory joke is different and the tap dance routine slightly altered, but the template remains the same.

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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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