On Our Selection (1920)
I watched all that we now have of Raymond Longford’s On Our Selection (1920). It holds up very well (assuming you are interested in Arthur Hoey Davis’s view of the inherent worth of the pioneer lifestyle). Tal Ordell, as Dave, acts everyone else off the screen – something Bert Bailey will not let happen when we have sound, in 1932. (Or Leo McKern, much later.) The Dad and Dave stories were made into a play in 1912 by Bert Bailey & Edmund Duggan, but this was not the basis of Longford's film.
The play added a melodramatic plot involving rival lovers and murder, and transformed the Rudd family into entertaining caricatures of the book's original characters. Longford, however, repudiated the stage version and went back to Steele Rudd's original text. In publicising his film, he criticised the 'ridicule' to which the play had subjected the bush pioneers, which left audiences with the impression 'that our backblocks are populated with a race of unsophisticated idiots'; the sense of humour with which bush people had faced hardships 'has too often been converted into clumsy clowning of the "slapstick" variety' (Picture Show, 1 April 1920). Pike & Cooper: 98.
Garry Gillard | New: 25 October, 2012 | Now: 18 August, 2018