Eureka Stockade (film)

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Eureka Stockade
Directed by Harry Watt
Produced by Michael Balcon
Leslie Norman (associate)
Written by Harry Watt
Walter Greenwood
Ralph Smart (add. scenes)
Starring Chips Rafferty
Jane Barrett
Jack Lambert
Gordon Jackson
Music by John Greenwood
Cinematography George Heath
Edited by Leslie Norman
Production
company
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release dates 26 January 1949 (UK)
7 May 1949 (Aust)
December 1950 (US)[1]
Running time 103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Australia
Language English
Budget £200,000[2]

Eureka Stockade is a 1949 British film of the story surrounding Peter Lalor and the gold miners' rebellion of 1854 at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, Victoria. It was produced by Ealing Studios and directed by Harry Watt.[3][4][5]

Plot[edit]

An introductory montage establishes Australia of a hundred years ago - a place of wealth and poverty, transformed by the discovery of gold in 1851. This causes a massive drain in manpower which puts a strain on the country. The Victorian governor appoints an army officer, Reid, commissioner of the goldfields and orders him to tax the miners via licences, and to keep law and order.

In 1854 Ballarat, civil engineer Peter Lalor arrives to prospect for gold with his Italian friend Rafaello Carboni. They discover the license fee system is strictly enforced. The miners are upset at the conditions under which they work. Lalor and Carboni befriend a Scottish sailor, Tom, and Lalor meets a school teacher, Alicia, and the two begin a romance.

Governor La Trobe resigns and Governor Hotham arrives, ordering Reid to force people off the gold fields in order to encourage them back to other jobs. Things get militant on the goldfields after the murder of miner James Scobie by James Bentley goes unpunished. The miners riot, despite Lalor's efforts and burn down Bentley's hotel. Governor Hotham sends in the military to keep the peace.

The miners form the Ballarat Reform League and Lalor emerges as their leader. They rally under the Eureka Flag.

Lalor and the miners arm themselves and make camp at the Eureka Stockade. The rebellion is overpowered by the English army. Many of the miners are killed and Lalor is injured, ultimately having to have his arm amputated. However the reforms wanted by the miners are ultimately pushed through and Lalor is elected to Parliament.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Following the success of The Overlanders, Ealing announced plans to make one film in Australia a year, the first one to be Eureka Stockade starring Chips Rafferty.[6] It was intended that production of the film would be on a more expensive, organised basis than The Overlanders.[7]

Script[edit]

The script was derived from an original research document prepared by Australian writer Rex Rienits, who was later given the credit "research".[8] Watt said this in itself was too long to make a film script and that Australians were not good film script writers, as they were too influenced by radio.[9] Accordingly, Watt brought Walter Greenwood, author of Love on the Dole, out to Australia to work on the script.

Production of the movie triggered inevitable historical controversies. Various historical societies claimed ownership of the original Eureka flag.[10] The design of the flag used in the film differs from the original Eureka flag. Peter Lalor's great-grandson complained about Chips Rafferty's casting, claiming he was nothing like Lalor.[11]

Shooting[edit]

Production was threatened when Actor's Equity placed a black ban on film contracts issued by Ealing Studios, Columbia Pictures Ltd. and Charles Chavel.[12]

Interiors were shot at Pagewood and Cinesound studios, which were completely refurbished to make the film. A great deal of work in particular had to be done on Pagewood, which had fallen into disrepair during the war.[13] Because the country around Ballarat was no longer suitable, an alternative location was found in a valley near Singleton, New South Wales. A complete township was constructed, including buildings and mineshafts.[14]

Shooting was scheduled to begin in September 1947 but was delayed for two months due to uncertainty about the film's classification as a "British" film. The British government had introduced a tax on film hire revenue earned by foreign films and for a time it was feared that Eureka Stockade would fall under this ambit.[15] Ealing had to import a large number of British cast and crew to ensure its classification as a British film, which caused the budget to increase. It is estimated £20,000 of equipment was imported from England, and over 1,500 people worked on the film.[16][17]

Shooting began on 19 November 1947. The unit had encountered a great deal of unfavourable weather, particularly rain and intense heat, forcing them to quickly get behind schedule. A member of the crew was involved in a car accident with a retired policeman in which the latter was killed.[18] From 19 December to 4 January the unit moved to Cinesound studios, then returning to Singleton.[19]

During filming Watt was dissatisfied with Chips Rafferty's performance; Leslie Norman suggested they replace him with Peter Finch who had a small support role. Watt ultimately decided not to do this and always regretted it.[20]

Two crew members were married on the location, with Watt giving the bride away.[21] Cast member Cecil Perry was arrested for getting drunk and taking off all his clothes in a public street.[22] Female star Jane Barrett was hospitalised for a few days after an insect bite.[23]

Exterior shooting was completed in May 1948 with interiors done by August.[24] The budget eventually blew out from £160,000 to £200,000[25]

The final budget of £200,000 was the same amount Ealing had intended to spend on six films shot over two years in Australia.[20] However they initially seemed happy with the footage and bought Pagewood Studios off Cinesound Productions with a view of making it a base for their future Australian operations.[26]

Reception[edit]

The movie was given a gala premiere in Sydney.[27] However it was not as well received as The Overlanders, either critically[28] or with the public.

Ealing wound back its Australian production plans, including a proposed version of Robbery Under Arms.[29] However, they did make three more movies in the country: Bitter Springs (1950), The Shiralee (1957) and The Siege of Pinchgut (1959).

Alternate title[edit]

An abridged version of the film was released in the United States of America under the title, Massacre Hill.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lovely Furs And Frocks at Gala Film Premiere.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 7 May 1949. p. 11. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1989 p181
  3. ^ Monthly Film Bulletin review; February 1949, page 21
  4. ^ Variety film review; 2 February 1949
  5. ^ Motion Picture Exhibitor review; 27 September 1950, page 2942
  6. ^ "BRITISH PRODUCER TO FILM EUREKA STOCKADE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 2 November 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "WORLD PLANS FOR NEW FILM.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 May 1947. p. 9. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "PLAN TO MAKE ONE FILM YEARLY IN AUSTRALIA.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 16 November 1946. p. 2. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Film Director To Use U.S. Script Writer.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 25 November 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Eureka Stockade Flag Not Holed By Moths.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 2 August 1947. p. 15. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "English Critic's Coo-ee To "The Overlanders".". Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 – 1955) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 2 December 1946. p. 17. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "FILM CONTRACTS BANNED.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 18 November 1946. p. 7. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "AUSTRALIAN FILM PROSPECTS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 27 March 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Singletonians Have Chance For Film Parts.". Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 7 November 1947. p. 1. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  15. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 206.
  16. ^ "ENGLISH STARS CHOSEN.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 3 November 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "NO BRITISH TAX ON "EUREKA" FILM.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 8 January 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  18. ^ "COMMUNITY SHOCKED GRIEVED BY UNTIMELY DEATH OF POPULAR CITIZEN.". Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 21 November 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  19. ^ ""EUREKA STOCKADE" CAST LEAVES FOR SYDNEY.". Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 19 December 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Philip Kemp, 'On the Slide: Harry Watt and Ealing's Australian Adventure', Second Take: Australian Filmmakers Talk, Ed Geoff Burton and Raffaele Caputo, Allen & Unwin 1999 p 145-164
  21. ^ "TWO MEMBERS OF FILM UNIT WED.". Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 19 January 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "ACTOR BEFORE COURT FOR INDECENT BEHAVIOR.". Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 18 February 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Star Visits Sick Husband.". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 14 February 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "HOLLYWOOD LETTER HOW WE REBUILT BALLARAT.". Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954) (Burnie, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 16 September 1949. p. 12. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTION GETS CRACKING.". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 28 February 1948. p. 2 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "BIG FILM DEAL.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 25 October 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Students' Trick at Film Premiere.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 7 May 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  28. ^ "Critics Say "Eureka" Not Another "Overlanders".". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 – 1953) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 January 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  29. ^ ""Robbery Under Arms" To Be Filmed.". Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954) (Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia). 9 January 1947. p. 6. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  30. ^ "Eureka Stockade". National Film and Sound Archive. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 

External links[edit]