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Yank In Australia, A* (Alf Goulding, 1942) Austral-American Productions, wr. Alf Goulding, dp George Malcolm, sound Jack Bruce; 65 mins; Al Thomas, Hartney Arthur, Kitty Bluett, Jane Conolly, Graham Wicker, Alf Goulding, Joy Nichols, Frank Bradley, Marie La Varre
The director, Alf Goulding, was born in Australia but established his career as a comedy director in Hollywood in the 1920s. He returned to Australia after directing Laurel and Hardy in A Chump at Oxford (1940), but like Clarence Badger, his Australian work was unimpressive, possibly because he was more comfortable with the silent cinema or because he relied on the support of the Hollywood production system. His sole Australian feature embraced familiar absurdist elements from American farce and was narrated from an American viewpoint. Two rival newspaper editors in New York send writing teams to the South Pacific to find new material; one sends an American, Headlines Haggerty, and a 'silly ass' Englishman, Clarence Worthington (played with a falsetto voice by Hartney Arthur), and the other sends two women. The four reporters meet on board the same ship and are marooned together on the tropical Australian coast after a Japanese submarine sinks their ship. They are rescued by a girl who gives them shelter in a tumbledown shack where she lives with her gruff father and precocious little nephew, Horace. With their Australian friends, the four reporters uncover and foil a plot by the Japanese to invade Australia.
The film was shot in mid-1942 in the Sydney studio of Commonwealth Film Laboratories, with exteriors at Taronga Park Zoo and in the bush near Sydney. A 'world premiere' was not held until 11 November 1944 at the City Hall in Brisbane. One critic was appalled by the film as a 'nose dive to a new low level in Australian production futility' (Sunday Mail, Brisbane, 12 November 1944). Few other Australian screenings took place. Early in 1945 it was given limited release in England as a supporting film, and it was screened later in New York. Pike & Cooper: 195-6.
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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