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Beyond Reasonable Doubt – The Case of Ronald Ryan (1977)

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The great escape

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

Clip description

There were just five shopping days to Christmas 1965 when Ronald Ryan (played by Bill Hunter in this re-creation) and Peter Walker initiated their escape from Pentridge Jail just after 2pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Curator’s notes

Professor Gordon Hawkins introduces himself and then begins with the story of the escape. He’s at ease with the camera and delivers an arresting narration, aided by voice-over from actor Bill Hunter in character as Ryan. The program makes use of an excellent animated re-creation of events to help explain what these two inmates had planned and what went wrong.

It’s significant that Professor Hawkins is more than a journalist or professional presenter. He’s a criminologist, which allows us to feel we’re in the hands of a legal professional as he takes us expertly and clearly through the sequence of events and how such evidence was used by both the defence and the prosecution teams at the subsequent trial.

It is unlikely that the filmmakers would ever have been granted permission to film inside the jail while it was still an operating penitentiary, so the idea of re-creating the escape using animation was a stroke of genius. In those days the ABC employed its own graphics department with talented animators and artists on staff, so the huge expense of the weeks of painstaking animation work would have been absorbed by the ABC itself and not allocated to the program as part of its budget.

Thanks to the generosity of the rights holders, we are able to offer The great escape from the television program Beyond Reasonable Doubt – The Case of Ronald Ryan as a high quality video download.

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Downloadable Video – FOR EDUCATIONAL CRITICISM AND REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY

This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and 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. ALL rights are reserved.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading this clip:

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

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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