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Around The Boree Log

Around The Boree Log (Phil K. Walsh, 1925) prod. wr. Phil K. Walsh from the poems by John O'Brien, dp Lacey Percival, 7100 ft; cast unknown

This 'picturisation' of poems by John O'Brien (nom de plume of a Catholic priest, Father Patrick Joseph Hartigan) is constructed as a sentimental journey through Australian bush society in the 1870s. The film opens with an invitation to 'walk out into God's fresh air and under his blue sky and to drink in the beauty and harmony shown in the homely surroundings of everyday countrylife'. A priest (presumably intended to be Father Hartigan himself) reads from the book of poems and recollects his earlier life in the country. He remembers children clustering in excitement around a travelling hawker and eyeing the toys wistfully while their mother buys them hats. He remembers his first school, a shaky old slab hut, where the children are preparing for an inspection by the bishop. A tender childhood romance is also recalled, and later the wedding of the girl to another man. The film ends with scenes of the priest's life today - the great cathedrals, the modern church schools, and a light-hearted picnic on St Patrick's Day.
With its cheerful faith in education and progress, its pride in Australia, and its Catholic sentiments, the film had a mixed reaction from the commercial trade. Many exhibitors refused to screen it. One distributor explained: 'The film appealed more particularly to the Irish section of the community, and on that account some of the showmen took exception to it, thinking that it was Roman Catholic propaganda. We had testimonials, even from Protestant ministers, praising the picture, and showing there was nothing whatever in the nature of Roman Catholic propaganda in it, but, nevertheless, we had great difficulty in booking it in the suburbs' (minutes of evidence of the Royal Commission on the moving picture in Australia, 1927 p23).
The film was shot entirely in the New South Wales bush, with the Wollondilly River area near Goulburn as the main location. Shooting began early in 1925 using local people in the cast, and it opened for a two-week season at the Crystal Palace, Sydney, on 25 September 1925.
Little is known about the director; his only other recorded involvement in feature film production was While The Billy Boils (1921), in which he served as assistant to Beaumont Smith, and The Birth of White Australia, which he directed in 1928. Pike & Cooper: 128.

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