Australasian Cinema > films > Thunderbolt 1910
Thunderbolt** (John Gavin, 1910) prod. H.A. Forsyth, Southern Cross Motion Pictures; wr. Ambrose Pratt, novel Three Years with Thunderbolt; dp A.J. Moulton. John Gavin (Thunderbolt), Ruby Butler, H A Forsyth; over 3000 ft.
Frederick Ward is a young citizen of Windsor, NSW, who goes droving to earn money for his wedding. He is suspected of cattle duffing, is arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He escapes from prison on Cockatoo Island in a daring and historic swim across the waters to freedom. He soon learns that grief has caused the death of his fiancee and he vows to wreak vengeance on the law, which has caused so much suffering. The film continues with the story of his life as the notorious bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt; he is rescued from a police trap by a half-caste girl, raids a country hotel, and dies after a gallant struggle with the police.
The story was filmed in Lithgow and Hartley Vale in the Blue Mountains, with historic buildings in the area as backgrounds. Extras were recruited from among local miners, who were then on strike; they received the generous fee of £1 per day and free meals for riding their own horses as bushrangers and troopers. The producer, H.A. (Bert) Forsyth, was himself an expert horseman and took part in the riding scenes. The film opened in Sydney at the Queen's Theatre on 12 November 1910 for a long season of one month, and it was frequently revived. Pike & Cooper 1998: 11.
Captain Thunderbolt (Cecil Holmes, 1953) Grant Taylor, Charles Tingwell; bush western
Pike, Andrew & Ross Cooper 1998, Australian Film 1900-1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, OUP, Melbourne: 11.
Reade, Eric 1975, The Australian Screen: A Pictorial History of Australian Film-making, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne: 42.
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