John and Agnes Gavin

Has Agnes Gavin written more Australian films than any other woman? She is credited with eleven, as noted below.

John Gavin was born in 1875 in Sydney, and entered production after a long career on the stage as an actor, including ten years with the Bland Holt company and much experience in vaudeville. After making three bushranging films for Forsyth, he was engaged to direct a series of films in the early months of 1911 for the new production partnership of Crick and Finlay.
In mid-1911 Gavin branched out on his own and worked as an independent producer-director, with fluctuating fortune, until 1918, when he decided to try his luck in Hollywood. A big man with a generous and naive personality, he readily found minor acting work in several Hollywood studios, especially in slapstick routines and in fight scenes in Westerns. He returned to Sydney in February 1922 with the intention of producing outback adventures including a serial based on the exploits of Ned Kelly, for both the American and Australian markets, but he struck censorship problems and failed to raise the necessary capital. In May 1923 he went back to work in Hollywood.
Late in 1925 he returned again to Sydney and directed his last film, Trooper O'Brien (1928). He died in Sydney in 1938. In all of his work he was supported by his wife Agnes, who occasionally acted in his films but more often wrote them. Making a team with more enthusiasm and stubborn persistence than talent, the Gavins occasionally hit upon the right formula for commercial success, most notably with The Martyrdom Of Nurse Cavell (1916), but most of their productions were 'quickies', and Gavin emerges clearly as a colourful lone wolf, lured onwards by the romance of production but lacking any marked ability to fulfil his ambition. Pike & Cooper: 11.


Thunderbolt (John Gavin, 1910) Southern Cross Motion Pictures, prod. H. A. Forsyth, from the novel Three Years with Thunderbolt by Ambrose Pratt, dp A. J. Moulton; John Gavin, as Thunderbolt, "is rescued from a police trap by a half-caste girl ..." (Pike & Cooper 1998: 11), Ruby Butler, H. A. Forsyth; survives in part

Moonlite (John Gavin, 1910) aka Captain Moonlite, Southern Cross Motion Pictures, wr. H. A. Forsyth, dp A. J. Moulton; an Aboriginal character, Bunda, an Aboriginal woman, was played by Gavin's wife Agnes in blackface

Ben Hall And His Gang (John Gavin, 1911) Crick and Finlay, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Herbert Finlay, 3000 ft; John Gavin (Ben Hall)

Frank Gardiner, The King Of The Road (John Gavin, 1911) Crick and Finlay, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Herbert Finlay; John Gavin (Frank Gardiner)

Assigned Servant, The (John Gavin, 1911) production company Crick and Finlay, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Herbert Finlay; John Gavin, Alf Scarlett, Charles Woods, Dore Kurtz, Sid Harrison, Agnes Gavin; 4000 ft

Keane Of Kalgoorlie (John Gavin, 1911) Crick and Finlay, wr. Agnes Gavin from play by W. O'Sullivan from novel by Arthur Wright, who wrote: 'The authorities would not allow Randwick course to be used for picture purposes, so a "scenic" picture of the running of a race in WA (the Perth Cup, I think) was joined up in the film ...'; John Gavin, Agnes Gavin, Alf Scarlett

Mark Of The Lash, The (John Gavin, 1911) Australian Photo-Play Company, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp A. J. Moulton; John Gavin

Drover's Sweetheart, The (John Gavin, 1911) John F. Gavin Productions, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp A. J. Moulton; John Gavin; may not have been screened; 33 min.

Assigned To His Wife (John Gavin, 1911) John F. Gavin Productions, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp A. J. Moulton; John Gavin, Agnes Gavin, Carr Austin, J. Harris, F. Henderson, Miss Daphne, H. Harding, Wilton Power, H. Benson, A. Delaware (Yacka); In the dramatic highlight of the film, Jack's faithful Aboriginal friend, Yacka, contrives to rescue him with a 'Dive for Life' in which the Aboriginal boy dives 250 feet over a precipice into a river; evidence is eventually found that exonerates Jack and condemns Danvers, and at last Jack is free to return to England with Bess and Yacka. Pike & Cooper: 27

Melbourne Mystery, A (director? 1913) John Gavin

Martyrdom Of Nurse Cavell, The (John Gavin, C. Post Mason, 1916) Australian Famous Feature Company, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Lacey Percival; Vera Pearce, Harrington Reynolds, C. Post Mason, Percy Walshe, John Gavin, Charles Villiers, George Portus, Roland Stavely, James Martin, Robert Floyd, George Farrell, Ethel Bashford, Clare Stephenson, Nellie Power

Murder Of Captain Fryatt, The (John Gavin, 1917) Australian Famous Feature Company, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Franklyn Barrett; Harrington Reynolds, John Gavin, Olive Proctor; based on 1915 events

His Convict Bride (John Gavin, 1918) aka For the Term of Her Natural Life (initial working title), Australian Famous Feature Company, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Lacey Percival, titles Syd Nicholls; Ethel Bashford, John Gavin, Charles Villiers, Frank Hawthorne

Trooper O'Brien (John Gavin, 1928) Australian Artists Company, prod. Herbert Finlay, wr. Agnes Gavin, dp Arthur Higgins


New: 29 November, 2012 | Now: 20 November, 2013 | garrygillard [at] gmail.com