Splendid Fellows

Splendid Fellows (Beaumont Smith, 1934) JC Williamson Picture Productions, wr. Beaumont Smith, ass. dir. Raymond Longford, dp George Malcolm; Frank Leighton (Hon Hubert Montmorency Ralston), Leo Franklyn, Frank Bradley; 84 min.

Despite the sub-plots, Splendid Fellows was a considerable improvement over The Hayseeds (1933), with naturalistic central performances, subdued portraits of the farmfolk, and relatively sophisticated production techniques. Beaumont Smith and his team of co-directors managed to stretch their tiny £5000 budget to include many potentially strong box-office attractions: the cast introduced Eric Colman, the much-publicised brother of Ronald; Sir Charles Kingsford Smith made a personal appearance in flying scenes, shot with the co-operarion of his own airways company and the Aero Club of New South Wales; and actual footage was incorporated from the Centenary Air Race and celebrations in Melbourne.
The trade press congratulated the film for its 'red-hot topical theme', but the formula failed to work. When BEF released it at the Lyceum, Sydney, in November 1934, its receipts were not encouraging. Possibly the title was wrong: a New Zealand exhibitor later promoted the film with the sub-title The Hayseeds at the Melbourne Centenary, and reported 'tremendous' business. The general failure of the film spelt the end of production for Beaumont Smith, and until his death in 1950 he worked exclusively in exhibition and publicity. Pike & Cooper: 168-169.

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