Tall Timbers

Tall Timbers (Ken G. Hall, 1937) prod. Ken G. Hall, Cinesound Productions, wr. Frank Harvey from Frank Hurley story, dp George Heath; 89 mins., 35 mm.; Frank Leighton, Shirley Ann Richards, Aileen Britton, Campbell Copelin, Letty Craydon, Peter Dunstan, Frank Harvey, George Lloyd, Joe Valli, Ronald Whelan

In Ken G. Hall’s 1937 film Tall Timbers, it’s not the height or beauty or beneficial properties of the trees that are celebrated, but the courage and power of the axemen and the entrepreneurs who fell them and drag them away – and the higher the rate and the greater the quantity the better. I hope things have changed somewhat since 1937, but I greatly fear they have not.

J Alan Kenyon's special effects were the highlight of the film. Two attempts were made in January 1937 to stage timber drives on a twenty-acre slope near Gloucester NSW; six cameras were strategically placed along the slope to cover the event, but on both occasions the drives failed to work. Kenyon finally made a model of the timber slope and a drive was staged in miniature, with close-up shots intercut from the abortive real-life drives. Pike & Cooper: 179.

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