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The Hordern Mystery

Hordern Mystery, The* (Harry Southwell, 1920) aka The Golden Flame, Harry Southwell, Southwell Screen Plays, wr. Miss M.F. Garwood from the novel by Edward Finn, dp Tasman Higgins; Claude Turton, Flo Little, Floris St George, Godfrey Cass, Thomas Sinclair, Beatrice Hamilton, David Edelsten; 5600 ft.

This complex Jekyll-and-Hyde story concerns a money-hungry man, Gilbert Hordern, who pretends to be his own evil twin brother so that he can evade his doting wife and marry a millionaire's daughter. He succeeds in his plan but is driven by a guilty conscience to confess to his fraudulent behaviour. He is about to be arrested for bigamy when he wakes up and realises that his evil doings were just a nightmare. Chastened by the dream, he vows never to allow money to ruin his life and, counting his blessings, he clasps his wife and child close to his breast.
Southwell's second Australian feature was shot in Sydney's wealthier suburbs in mid-1920 under the working title of The Golden Flame. It premiered at the Shell Theatre, Sydney, on 23 October 1920 but attracted little attention. The normally uncritical Picture Show, 1 November 1920, attacked it as 'lamentably reminiscent of the poor acting and jumbled plot of pictures in days long gone'. Pike & Cooper: 102.

Meanwhile, Harry Southwell had endeavoured to establish his own company in Australia and followed up his production of The Kelly Gang with The Golden Flame. Godfrey Cass, Claude Turton, and Thomas Sinclair from the Kelly picture also appeared in the second feature. It had a trial run one morning in August at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, then re-appeared as The Hordern Mystery at the Shell Theatre in October. It was described by the critics as 'a weak film, with poor acting, and a jumbled plot'. The reference to poor acting is hard to understand as both Cass and Turton were experienced performers. Reade: 99-100.

References and Links

Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, OUP, Melbourne: 102-3.

Reade, Eric 1975, The Australian Screen: A Pictorial History of Australian Film-making, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne: 99-100

Garry Gillard | New: 4 November, 2018 | Now: 26 November, 2019