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Caught In The Net* (Vaughan C. Marshall, 1928) prod. Vaughan C. Marshall, Advance Films, dp Tasman Higgins, 5 reels; Zillah Bateman, John Mayer, Charles Brown, Peggy Farr, Viva Vawden, Felix St H. Jellicoe, Beverley Usher
Vaughan C Marshall's second Melbourne production (and the first he directed) was, like Environment (1927), preoccupied with high society. The story followed the fashionable theme of a social butterfly ensnared in a net of romance. The girl, Phyllis Weston, is loved by two men, the dashing Jack Stacey and the unscrupulous Robson. In a yacht race (staged for the film by the St Kilda Yacht Club) Robson tries to foul Jack's boat but fails. Unrelenting, Robson persuades his sister to entice Jack into a compromising situation, but a friend manages to save Jack's name from slander, and Robson is denounced.
Zillah Bateman, a British actress visiting Australia for theatrical engagements, was cast in January 1928 to play the lead in Marshall's film. With a budget estimated at £2000, exteriors were shot at the seaside resort of Portsea, where 'many of Australia's best-known society people' were filmed.
It was released as a supporting film at the Haymarket Theatre, Sydney, on 14 July 1928, and in 1929 it was offered as a quota production in England. The British trade paper, Kine Weekly, 20 June 1928, dismissed it as suitable only for 'cheap halls': the film was dominated by an 'extremely weak plot and amateurish direction', relieved only by some 'exceptionally good' yacht-racing scenes. Marshall announced plans for other feature films, including a horse-racing drama, but none eventuated. Pike & Cooper: 145.
Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, revised edition, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
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