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Southern International Productions

aka: Southern Films International, Platypus Productions

Southern International Productions was an Australian film production company established in 1953 or 1954 by Lee Robinson and Chips Rafferty.

Phantom Stockman, The (Lee Robinson, 1953) aka Return of the Plainsman; Chips Rafferty, Charles Tingwell, Rod Taylor; produced by Lee Robinson and Chips Rafferty as Platypus Productions

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

Walk into Paradise (Lee Robinson & Giorgio Pagliero, 1956) aka Walk into Hell; produced by Southern Films International (Lee Robinson & Chips Rafferty); Chips Rafferty, Françoise Christophe, Reg Lye; filmed in both French and English in PNG; action adventure exploring for oil in PNG; 93 min.

Dust in the Sun (Lee Robinson, 1958) Southern International Productions; novel, Justin Bayard, by Jon Cleary; Jill Adams, Ken Wayne (Justin Bayard), Maureen Lanagan, James Forrest, Robert Tudawali (Emu Foot), Jack Hume, Henry Murdoch, Reg Lye, Alan Light; Justin Bayard is a Northern Territory policeman taking an Aboriginal captive, Emu Foot, to Alice Springs to be tried for a tribal killing

Stowaway (Lee Robinson & Ralph Habib, 1958) aka Le passager clandestin; novel by Georges Simenon; Southern International; dp Desmond Dickinson, assistant editor Anthony Buckley (his first feature); Martine Carol, Karlheinz Böhm, Serge Reggiani, Arletty, Roger Livesey, Reg Lye, Maea Flohr; aventure drama set in French Polynesia

Restless and the Damned, The (Yves Allégret, 1959) aka L'ambitieuse, The Climbers, The Dispossessed; French/Italian/Aust coprop; last of features (partly) from the Lee Robinson & Chips Rafferty production team; filmed mostly in French Polynesia; Edmond O'Brien, Richard Basehart, Andréa Parisy, Nicole Berger, Nigel Lovell, Reg Lye; drama; commercially unsuccessful, theatrically released only in French

Lee Robinson

Collaboration between Chips Rafferty and Lee Robinson began in January 1952 when both failed to gain permission from the government to raise capital for separate production projects. Rafferty had planned a £120,000 company to produce thirteen three-reel films for world television, and a feature, The Green Opal, about immigration problems. At the same time, Lee Robinson, a young director with the Film Division of the Department of the Interior, was seeking to make a series of features beginning with an urban thriller, Saturday to Monday, which he had written with the English editor Inman Hunter. However, under the restrictions on capital that existed at the time, film-making was ruled a non-essential industry and investment over £10,000 prohibited.
Robinson later sold his scenario to Ealing, who used it as the basis for The Siege Of Pinchgut (1959). Rafferty and Robinson decided to make a feature together within the £10,000 limit. With a third partner, the photographer George Heath, they formed a company, Platypus Productions, and on a tight schedule began shooting [The Phantom Stockman] at Alice Springs in July 1952 with enthusiastic co-operation from the townspeople. Interiors were later shot in Sydney. Pike & Cooper: 216.

The second Rafferty-Robinson feature produced by their new company, Southern International, was far more ambitious than their first, The Phantom Stockman (1953). With a budget of £25,000, more than double that of the earlier film, they spent over six weeks on location at Thursday lsland, followed by further underwater shooting at Green Island, off the north Queensland coast, completed by November 1953. Pike & Cooper: 217.

Chips Rafferty

Born in 1909 as John Goffage, Rafferty had worked in numerous outdoor jobs - as drover, opal miner, canecutter and deck hand - before settling into work at a wine cellar in Sydney and trying his hand at acting. In Forty Thousand Horsemen and especially in The Overlanders (1946), he established a screen persona that remained with him throughout his acting career. For three decades, in numerous films, he played a character that came to be widely regarded as essentially Australian. Few other actors so clearly and consistently became identified with the expression of national characteristics. Although he was usually cast in type and initially owed much to Pat Hanna's style of comedy, the character was always distinctively his own and he rarely descended to caricature. On and off screen, his heavy drinking and gruff irreverence for authority were balanced by a laconic good humour, sincerity in friendship and a determined optimism. He worked hard to establish an Australian film industry, and in the 1950s devoted enormous energies and personal funds to the Southern International venture. He also acted in many American films and television series, usually in character parts, but always maintained his base in Australia. His sudden death on 28 May 1971 was a shock to many Pike & Cooper: 193-194.

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Garry Gillard | New: 23 November, 2012 | Now: 18 July, 2020