Fellers

Fellers (Arthur Higgins, Austin Fay, 1930) Artaus Productions, wr. Ashley Durham, dp Tasman Higgins; Arthur Tauchert, Jean Duncan, Les Coney; Aust Light Horse in Palestine during WW1; early talkie; comic adventures of three mates; 8000 ft

Two 1930 silent features had sound-on-disc inserts added later and were shown with them: The Cheaters (Paulette McDonagh, 1930, screened May) and Fellers (Arthur Higgins, Austin Fay, 1930, screened August). They were therefore the first Australian films to be shown which had any kind of sound as part of the film, but it was only additional in each case, and not regarded as successful.

The last reel of the film was synchronised with a few minutes of dialogue and a song, which Everyones dismissed as 'in no way important; moreover the recording is irregular. At one moment the voices come over excellently, only to blur a few moments later'. The rest of the film was silent, with a recorded music score as accompaniment, and even that failed to impress: 'the music is far too turbulent, providing for the most commonplace scene a background of such vivid emotions as would be in place only at a grand opera climax' (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 1930). Pike & Cooper: 153.

For Graham Shirley, however, there is no doubt that Fellers takes precedence.

Fellers (1930), the first Australian talkie feature, used the Vocalion equipment to musically accompany most of the film and add dialogue to the final reel. The silent version of The Cheaters (1930) was initially modified with three disc scenes shot at Vocalion, then re-worked as a full talkie using Standardtone equipment to re-shoot the closeups and dub the wide shots. Graham Shirley, Oxford Companion to Australian Film: 460.


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