Rupert Kathner (and Alma Brooks)


Kathner was a sketch artist who began working in set design in local film studios in the early 1930s. Before Phantom Gold, he tried in vain to find backing for a feature based on a story by Stan Tolhurst, Falling for Fame, 'depicting the phonies who came from overseas and wasted the [film] industry's money'. A similar jaundiced view of the industry was expressed in his book, Let's Make a Movie, published in Sydney in 1945. Altogether he completed five features and several shorts, none of which recovered its cost. He died in Cairns on 31 March 1954, aged 50. Pike & Cooper: 178.

Phantom Gold (Rupert Kathner, 1937) Kathner-Tolhurst Australian Productions, wr Rupert Kathner, asspro Stan Tolhurst, ed. Cecil Blackman, music Rex Shaw, sound Mervyn Murphy; Stan Tolhurst (Harry Lasseter), Bruce Russell, Capt. WL Pittendrigh; Harry Lasseter's reef; 64 min.

Below The Surface (Rupert Kathner, 1938) Australian Cinema Entertainments, wr. Rupert Kathner, dp Tasman Higgins, ed. asspro Stan Tolhurst; Phyllis Reilly, Neil Carlton, Stan Tolhurst; two miners compete for an important coal contract; c. 55 min.

Wings Of Destiny (Rupert Kathner, 1940) Enterprise Film Company, prod. wr. Rupert Kathner, dp Arthur Higgins, Joe Stafford, Tasman Higgins; Marshall Crosby, John Fernside, George Lloyd, Raymond Longford; espionage thriller; 68 min.

Racing Luck (Rupert Kathner, 1941) Fanfare films, prod Rupert Kathner, asspro Alma Brooks, dp Tasman Higgins; Joe Valli, George Lloyd, Marshall Crosby; Raymond Longford; comic adventure; final appearance on screen of Raymond Longford

Red Sky At Morning (Arthur Hartney, 1944) aka Escape At Dawn in 1951 re-release; Austral-American Productions, wr. Hartney Arthur from play by Dymphna Cusack; dp Rupert Kathner; Peter Finch, Jean McAllister, John Alden; historical romance set 1812; 55 min.

Glenrowan, Affair, The (Rupert Kathner, 1951) aka A Message to Kelly; Australian Action Pictures, wr. Rupert Kathner, asspro Alma Brooks, dp Harry Malcolm, Kathner; Bob Chitty (Ned Kelly; Chitty was 1940s Carlton captain); 70 min.


Hunt Angels (Alec Morgan, 2006) docudrama; Australian release August 10 2006; little-known episode in Oz cinematic history: true and little known story of Rupert Kathner and Alma Brooks, tenacious pioneers of the Australian film industry; premiere 23 July 2006 Chauvel Theatre; opening film MIFF 26 July 2006; 'Hunt Angels' was the stage name used by Rupert Kathner to play Aaron Sherritt in The Glenrowan Affair


In his somewhat bitter survey of the Australian film industry, Let's Make a Movie (Sydney 1945), Rupert Kathner told the sad tale of The Burgomeister's [1935] preview: after the screening 'there was an unearthly silence. Lady So and So turned to Sir Whatsisname, who nudged the eminent KC, who, after swallowing hard, silently thanked his lucky stars that he only had a few hundreds invested in it and not thousands like a lot of others who were seated about him'. Pike & Cooper: 171.


New: 30 November, 2012 | Now: 12 March, 2014 | garrygillard [at] gmail.com