Dan Morgan (film)

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Dan Morgan
Produced by Charles Cozens Spencer
Starring Stanley Walpole
Release dates
22 May 1911[1]
Running time
3,500 feet[2]
Country Australia
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Dan Morgan is a 1911 Australian film from Charles Cozens Spencer about the bushranger Dan Morgan.

It is considered a lost film and little is known about who appeared in it or directed it.[3]


The film consists of a series of episodes from the life and criminal career of bushranger Dan Morgan, leading up to his violent death at the hands of the police. In the words of the Sydney Morning Herald, "it is a candid tale of a cruel, evil life. Dan Morgan is not made into a hero, but something quite the opposite. His robberies and cold blooded murders inspire horror and leave no room for regret when he dies riddled with bullets."[4]


  • Stanley Walpole as old stockman


Spencer had previously made several popular films about bushrangers, The Life and Adventures of John Vane, the Notorious Australian Bushranger, Captain Midnight, the Bush King and Captain Starlight.[5] Unlike those, it appears Dan Morgan was written originally for the screen and not adapted from a play or novel. Production took place at a time when there were rising fears about the negative influence of bushranger films on the general public. Advertising tried to counterbalance this, claiming:

In the past some films descriptive of bushranging may have been inclined to create a fale impression in the minds of young Australia. Mr Spencer has produced at great expense the true story of Dan Morgan, the notorious Australian outlaw, making no attempt to glorify his doings or palliate the heiniousness of his crime, but presenting the subject in such a way as will point a strong moral lesson, and show the ultimate fate of all evil-doers, for the wages of sin is death.[1]

Theatre actor Stanley Walpole made his movie debut in the cast.[6]


The film was premiered at Spencer's Lyceum Theatre in Sydney on 17 May 1911 and ran until June.[7] It then played other cinemas and country areas, although does not appear to have received the wide release enjoyed by Spencer's earlier bushranger movies.

Critical reaction was positive[8] with the reviewer from the Sydney Morning Herald calling it:

A thrilling series relating to the life of the notorious outlaw Dan Morgan, which was well received by a large audience. The picture-play shows realistically the exploits of that criminal, amidst surroundings of some beautiful Australian bush scenery, while the photographic quality is quite equal to anything yet accomplished from Mr Spencer's factory.[9]

The Sunday Times said "in the technical sense the pictures are admirable, and the reproductions of bush scenery are wonderfully well done."[10]

The critic from the Sydney Referee said the movie had:

Realism without so much as a suggestion of romance. To phrase the matter bluntly, the new film reproduces some of the sensational incidents in the infamous career of a fierce outlaw, who stained his hands with blood. The glorification of Australian bushrangers in moving pictures having been condemned on all sides, Mr. Spencer claims that no harm can be done if, as in this instance, the true character of the outlaw is presented. Still, it is a point for argument whether the doings of bushrangers are proper subjects for exhibition when there is a danger of the young receiving bad impressions at a picture show. No good purpose is served by illustrating the criminal side of life in Australia. Mr. Spencer's artist has apparently taken the raw official records of the heartless Dan Morgan and constructed a picture story in all its natural horrors. One is shown a series of sensational encounters, in which Morgan murders his colleagues in cold blood, shoots wholesale his pursuers from behind safe shelter, and robs indiscriminately throughout his brief career, with never more than a natural suggestion of wavering courage on the part of other people. The last stand of the bushranger, when he is shot by a dozen bullets, closes the story. In the technical sense, the Dan Morgan pictures are admirable.[11]

It appears the movie was a success at the box office.[12] However, films about bushrangers were banned in New South Wales soon after and Charles Cozens Spencer made no more movies in that genre.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Advertising.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 20 May 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Advertising.". The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 9 April 1912. p. 2. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 20.
  4. ^ "THE LYCEUM.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 May 1911. p. 5. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Advertising.". Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 7 June 1911. p. 16. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "PICTURE GOSSIP.". Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 September 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "THEATRICAL.". The Arrow (Sydney, NSW : 1896 - 1912) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 3 June 1911. p. 9. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Advertising.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 25 May 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  9. ^ ""DAN MORGAN" AT THE LYCEUM.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 May 1911. p. 8. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "LYCEUM—SPENCER'S PICTURES.". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 28 May 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Theatrical Gazette.". Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 May 1911. p. 16. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Advertising.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 25 May 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  13. ^ David Lowe, AN OUTLAW INDUSTRY Bushrangers on the big screen: 1906-1993, March 1995

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