Australasian Cinema > films > When the Kellys Rode, 1934

When the Kellys Rode

When the Kellys Rode* (Harry Southwell, 1934) Imperial Feature Films, wr. Harry Southwell, dp Tasman Higgins, sound Clive Cross; 79 mins; Hay Simpson (Ned Kelly), John Appleton, Norman Wait, Robert Inglis, George Randall, Regina Somerville, Kathleen Hamilton, June Middleton, Lorraine Smith, Vashti Wallace, Charles Villiers, Billie Dean, George Doran, Stan Tolhurst, George Lees, Victor Wallen, Louis Grant, Keith Clune, Hugh Raynor, Walter Vincent, Victor Morcom, Howard Carr, Bertie Wright

Harry Southwell's third version of the Kelly story was filmed on location in the Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains, and in Cinesound's studio at Rushcutters Bay. A Cinesound crew was hired by Southwell to shoot the film and assemble it under his supervision. Shot rapidly and with minimal planning, the film had little to recommend it. A critic in the Argus, 15 October 1934, found it 'unedifying, unconvincing, and often laughable... The actors speak like children at a school recitation night, and the camera waits until the recitation ends'.
The film was released in New Zealand in August 1934 and in Melbourne in October. lt would soon have disappeared into oblivion had not the New South Wales police department reimposed the state's old ban on bushranging films. Although it could be openly shown in other states, it remained banned in New South Wales for more than a decade. In June 1948 two showmen, Oscar Shaft and Vic Hobler, resurrected the film and, through BEF, presented it at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney. To the surprise of the trade it attracted large crowds, and Film Weekly, 8 July 1948, reported that it seemed to be bad enough to serve as 'hilarious first-half entertainment'. Pike & Cooper: 166.


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