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Showgirl's Luck (Norman Dawn, 1931) aka Talkie Mad; Susan Denis, Arthur Tauchert, Arthur Clarke; comedy musical; full-length talkie; opened November 1931 (Shirley & Adams 1989: 111); 55 min.
Showgirl's Luck (Norman Dawn, 1931) isAustralia's first complete feature-length talkie to go into production and be completed—with a Merkin director, sadly. And it is a bit of a dawg's breakfast. The sound quality comes and goes, and is sometimes a bit out of sync. There are intertitles! And the characters sometimes break into song and dance, even when they're not on stage. The nice thing is that it's a movie about movie-making, and I like them. Not that you see any of the crew – just the cast. I suspect the film they're making (in the film) is a musical, as is the metafilm. This film still exists complete and has been restored by the NFSA. Norman Dawn began shooting the film in May 1930, but didn't complete principal photography until December 1930. Problems with sound editing meant that the film was not released until late 1931.
Meanwhile two silent features had had sound inserts added and been shown with them: The Cheaters and Fellers, without much success. Two other talkies, Isle of Intrigue and Spur of the Moment (both A. R. Harwood) were made in July-August 1931 and shown in September, before Showgirl's Luck. They were 'featurettes' about fifty minutes in duration (Pike & Cooper: 155) and shown on the same program. They were therefore the first talkies to be shown, tho not the first to commence production.
Norman Dawn had at least made the first Australian full talkie to enter production and achieve a release. Shirley & Adams 1989: 111.
The director, Norman Dawn, wrote that Showgirl's Luck 'followed the accepted formula of the typical American musical of the period ... It had the usual simple straight line plot upon which was hung as many musical numbers as could be worked in' (N Dawn notebook, NFSA). The heroine is Peggy Morton (played by Dawn's wife, Katherine, under the stage name of Susan Denis) ... Pike & Cooper: 155.
Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, OUP, Melbourne.
Shirley, Graham & Brian Adams 1989, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press.
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