Australian
Screen

an NFSA website

All titles in the ‘Melodrama’ genre

37 titles - sorted alphabetically or by year

1900s

La Poule aux Oeufs d’Or short film – 1905

A fable of wealth and greed leads to disaster for a farmer and his wife. The Corrick family entertainers incorporated this early French film into their touring show.

1910s

For the Honour of Australia feature film – 1916

War melodrama about two brothers in 1915: one joins the navy, the other discovers a German spy ring in Australia and is saved after the Sydney batters the Emden.

The Woman Suffers feature film – 1918

This has been called ‘Australia’s first feminist feature’ but many of its female characters are ruined by men, a common theme in melodrama.

The Man from Kangaroo feature film – 1919

John Harland, a bush parson, is dismissed from his job for teaching children how to box. Harland moves to another town, where he combats ruffians and rescues his girlfriend from a forced marriage.

1920s

The Breaking of the Drought feature film – 1920

An outback family faces ruin through drought and a son corrupted by life in the big city.

Sunshine Sally feature film – 1922

The working-class Sally falls in love with the adopted son of wealthy parents from whom she was kidnapped as a child.

Those Who Love feature film – 1926

Barry Manton marries Lola Quayle, a dancer from a humble background. Lola faces an uphill battle for acceptance from Barry’s wealthy parents.

For the Term of His Natural Life feature film – 1927

The use of locations, particularly Port Arthur, is probably the film’s strongest asset, lending both veracity and visual impact. The other real strength of the film is its confident use of special effects.

The Far Paradise feature film – 1928

Despite their love for each other, family loyalties keep Cherry Carson and Peter Lawton apart until Cherry learns the truth about her father’s past.

The Cheaters (silent) feature film – 1929

Paula Marsh decides to end her career as a thief after falling in love with Lee Travers, son of a wealthy businessman.

1930s

The Cheaters (sound version) feature film – 1931

Paula Marsh decides to end her career as a thief after falling in love with Lee Travers, son of a wealthy businessman.

The Squatter’s Daughter feature film – 1933

Flammable nitrate film fed the fires in the spectacular bushfire finale to Ken G Hall’s The Squatter’s Daughter. The fires rapidly got out of control during filming but no one was hurt.

The Silence of Dean Maitland feature film – 1934

Renowned filmmaker Ken G Hall was concerned that this film would incite religious anger, but it was a smash hit instead.

Thoroughbred feature film – 1936

The ending of this film led to allegations of plagiarism, because it was almost identical to the 1934 film, Broadway Bill.

Lovers and Luggers feature film – 1937

This entertaining film is packed with action, romance and comedy — the cocktail Ken G Hall’s usually offers — but also sophistication.

Tall Timbers feature film – 1937

The finale, in which a whole hillside of trees are felled, was shot as a miniature in the studio after repeated attempts on location.

1940s

Into the Straight feature film – 1949

Australian horse breeder WJ Curzon hires British trainer Hugh Duncan and his playboy son Paul. Father and son are both attracted to JW’s daughter, June.

1950s

A World to Conquer short film – 1956

In this amateur science-fiction short, an alien surveillance camera lands in a man’s backyard, but his wife does not believe him.

1970s

Bellbird television program – 1970

Australia’s first successful national weekly serial, dealing with the lives and loves of ordinary people in a small country town.

Shirley Thompson versus the Aliens feature film – 1972

Maverick filmmaker Jim Sharman’s first film is unique – an engaging potpourri of sci-fi, rock’n'roll, anarchic comedy and psychological drama.

The Sullivans – On the Brink of War television program – 1976

The first four episodes of the long-running hit series cover the period leading up to the declaration of the Second World War in Australia on 3 September 1939.

1980s

Lucinda Brayford television program – 1980

Wendy Hughes, Sam Neill, Carol Burns and Barry Quin feature in the saga of an Australian heiress who marries into British aristocracy.

Winner Take All – Downside Risk television program – 1982

An ABC TV series about the fast-paced world of big business, Winner Take All is an early ‘80s time capsule.

Careful He Might Hear You feature film – 1983

In Sydney in the 1930s, two sisters fight for custody of a six-year-old boy.

The Shiralee television program – 1987

This miniseries was made during the golden decade of television drama. Its magic lies in the chemistry of Bryan Brown and Rebecca Smart.

The Dirtwater Dynasty television program – 1988

In this 1980s epic production from the Kennedy Miller stable, Richard Eastwick, born in a London slum, dreams of establishing a family dynasty.

1990s

More Winners – The Journey television program – 1990

On an isolated Tasmanian mountain, 12-year-old Ada lives with her wealthy father Justus. Housekeeper Martha is plotting to secure the family fortune for herself.

McLeod’s Daughters television program – 1996

The McLeod’s Daughters telemovie about independent women running a rural Australian property inspired the later successful TV series.

Romeo + Juliet feature film – 1996

Baz Luhrmann’s radical update of Romeo + Juliet boldly shattered conventional wisdom that said Shakespeare as he wrote it would never appeal to a mass audience.

Uncle short film – 1996

The biography of a humble man, his lemon tree, chihuahua and crumpets.

Cousin short film – 1998

The biography of a cousin, his special arm, pet rocks and shopping trolley.

Brother short film – 1999

The biography of a brother, his cigarette butts, asthma and head lice.

2000s

The Alice television program – 2004

A disparate group of people are heading for the outback to watch a solar eclipse. Strange things begin to happen as their fates entwine.

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant television program – 2004

An epic period adventure, full of swash and buckle, sweeping landscapes, high seas and romance.

Bit of Black Business – Too Late short film – 2007

Ben arrives home late to find his wife not talking to him and his son ignoring him. His pleas for forgiveness fall on deaf ears, and he uncovers a shocking truth.

Australia feature film – 2008

Three outsiders – an aristocrat, a stockman and a vulnerable child – are set against the malevolent forces of greedy neighbours, a world war and assimilationist policy.

The Combination feature film – 2009

After serving a jail term a young Lebanese Australian man struggles to stop his wild younger brother from making the mistakes that he made.