King of the Coral Sea

King of the Coral Sea (Lee Robinson, 1954) produced by Southern International (Lee Robinson & Chips Rafferty); Chips Rafferty, Charles Tingwell, Ilma Adey, Rod Taylor, Reg Lye

The people involved in King of the Coral Sea (Lee Robinson, 1954) seem to have been having a good time making it – if you don't count nearly drowning. It's amazing now to watch someone who has just genuinely come up from diving in deep water and immediately light a cigarette as if his life depended on it – which I suppose in a sense it might have, tho John Goffage (aka Chips Rafferty) died of a heart attack in 1971, not from lung cancer.

The world premiere was held on 17 July at Thursday Island, and mainland release through BEF began on 12 August at the Majestic Theatre, Melbourne. Overseas sales alone were sufficient to recover the production cost, and local box-office results were also encouragingly strong, despite press criticism of the unconvincing characters (especially Rafferty as the rather unlikely father of the heroine) and the slack pace of the action. However, most critics praised the exotic setting and the film's detailed observation of the pearling industry. (Pearling had been the subject of one of Lee Robinson's better documentaries for the Department of the Interior, The Pearlers, 1949.)

Garry Gillard | New: 25 October, 2012 | Now: 28 January, 2016