Ken G. Hall

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Ken G. Hall
Born Kenneth George Hall
(1901-02-22)22 February 1901
Paddington, Sydney, NSW, Australia[1]
Died 8 February 1994(1994-02-08) (aged 92)
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Occupation Film producer, film director
Spouse(s) Irene Addison (1925-1972) (her death)[2]

Kenneth George Hall, AO, OBE (22 February 1901 – 8 February 1994), better known as Ken G. Hall, was an Australian film director, considered one of the most important figures in the history of the Australian film industry.

Early years[edit]

Hall was born Kenneth George Hall[2] in Paddington, Sydney, Australia in 1901, the third child of Charles and Florence Hall.[1] He was educated at North Sydney Boys' High School.[3] At age 15, with the help of his father, he gained a cadetship at the Sydney Evening News,[1] where he became friends with a young Kenneth Slessor, then a cadet for another paper.[4] Two years later, he became a publicist for Union Theatres, initially working as an assistant to Gayne Dexter.[1] He had a six month stint as manager for the Lyceum Theatre then returned to publicity, working his way up to national publicity director, "the highest post in film publicity in Australia" at that time.[5]

In 1924 Hall joined the American distribution company First National Pictures as a publicist, and visited Hollywood the following year.

Directing career[edit]

The Exploits of the Emden[edit]

Hall began making films in 1928 when he was told by his boss at First National to recut and shoot additional sequences for a German movie about the Battle of Cocos. The resulting film, The Exploits of the Emden, was a local hit. Hall moved back to Union Theatres, running publicity for the State Theatre in Sydney, and being heavily involved in the campaign against the proposed entertainment tax from Stanley Bruce's government. He eventually became assistant to Stuart F. Doyle, managing director of the company.

Formation of Cinesound[edit]

Doyle established Cinesound Productions and assigned Hall to direct a number of shorts including That's Cricket (1931). He then gave Hall the job of directing a film adaptation of On Our Selection from the writings of Steele Rudd about the adventures of a fictional Australian farming family, the Rudds, and the perennial father-and-son duo, 'Dad and Dave'. The result was a massively popular film which led to three sequels.

Hall's other films include the melodrama The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934), Strike Me Lucky (1934), which starred legendary stage comedian Roy "Mo" Rene, Let George Do It (1938) starring the equally famous comedian George Wallace (entitled In the Nick of Time in the UK to avoid confusion with the 1940 British movie also called Let George Do It starring George Formby), Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938), Gone to the Dogs starring Wallace. Dad Rudd, MP (1940) and Tall Timbers (1937). Hall gave early roles to such actors as Peter Finch, Grant Taylor, Shirley Ann Richards and Chips Rafferty. He claimed that the only one of his films not to make a profit was Strike Me Lucky.

World War Two[edit]

Film production at Cinesound ground to a halt with the advent of World War Two, although Hall kept busy during this period producing and directing newsreels, documentaries and short subjects, including the Oscar-winning Kokoda Front Line (1942) - the first time an Australian film/documentary was awarded an Oscar.

Post War Career[edit]

After the war Hall returned to feature film production, enjoying a big success with Smithy, a film biography of Australia's most famous aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, which he produced, co-wrote and directed. This film was financed by Columbia Pictures, who went on to offer its star, Ron Randell, a long-term contract in Hollywood.

However attempts by Hall to make further feature films (particularly an adaptation of Robbery Under Arms, which he later described as "the film I wanted to make more than any other"[6]) were not successful, partly because the Greater Union cinema chain, who had backed all of Cinesound's films in the 1930s, were no longer enthusiastic about investing in local production. He was also stymied by the fact that the Australian government refused to allow money over a certain amount to be raised for films.[7] In particular, an attempt to raise £160,000 to make two films in collaboration with Ealing, including a version of Robbery Under Arms, was refused government permission.[8]

In 1956, Hall became general manager for Channel Nine in Sydney, where he remained until 1966.[9] There he instigated the practice of showing feature films uncut; previously in Australia they had been cut to fit the television schedules.[10]

Later years[edit]

On 1 January 1972, Hall was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to the "Australian motion picture industry."[11] The Australian Film Institute recognised his ability to convey the unique Australian character on film, and his important contribution to the development of the Australian film industry, with a Raymond Longford Award for "Lifetime Achievement" in 1976.

Later that year his wife since 1925, Irene Addison, died. Hall never remarried.[12]

He wrote an autobiography, Directed by Ken G. Hall (1977), later updated as Australian Film: The Inside Story (1980).

Hall was vocal in his criticism of the Australian New Wave, remarking in 1979, "the market for Australian films is flooded with mediocre to weak product. Too many of these films cannot stand up to the competition and will drown."[2] He supported the production of local commercial films, his motto being "Give the audience what they want."[2]

Since 1988, Hall's movies have been reintroduced to the Australian public by regular screenings at the 1930s style Kings Cinema at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, where one of his movies including The Silence of Dean Maitland, On Our Selection and others have been shown daily.

Hall suffered a stroke in 1993.[2] He died in Sydney on 8 February 1994.[2]

Legacy[edit]

In 1995 the Australian National Film and Sound Archive (Screensound) inaugurated the annual Ken G. Hall Award, which is presented by the Archive each year to a person, organisation or group that has made an outstanding contribution to Australian film preservation. Past winners of the Award are Alan Rydge and Rupert Murdoch (1995), Peter Weir (1996), Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd (1997), Joan Long AM (1999), Anthony Buckley (2000), Murray Forrest (2001), Judy Adamson (2002), the late Tom Nurse (2003) and archivist and historian Graham Shirley (2004).

Stage 3 at Fox Studios in Sydney is named after him.[13]

Filmography[edit]

Feature Films[edit]

Selected Short Films[edit]

Books[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Portrait of Ken G. Hall" by Paul Byrnes, Australian Screen Online, accessed 9 December 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary: Ken G. Hall" Buckley, Anthony (1994) The Independent, UK (11 Feb 1994)
  3. ^ http://mosman-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/lower-north-shores-top-aussie-legends/
  4. ^ Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press 1977 p 23
  5. ^ "FILM FEATURES & FOOTLIGHT FANCIES.". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 12 February 1922. p. 6. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Ken G. Hall, Directed by Ken G. Hall, Lansdowne Press, 1977 p93
  7. ^ "What Happens To Our Films?." The Sunday Herald (Sydney) 3 Feb 1952: 12 accessed 27 Nov 2011
  8. ^ "AUSTRALIAN film production received two heavy blows last week. Cinesound Ltd. was refused permission to raise capital to make a film of "Robbery Under Arms"; and Ealing Studios oi Britain decided to stop making films in Australia. MUST OUR FILM INDUSTRY DIE?." The Argus (Melbourne) 1 Feb 1952: 2 accessed 27 Nov 2011
  9. ^ Ken G. Hall at AustLit (subscription required)
  10. ^ Neil McDonald, "Which Version?", Quadrant, March 2001, p. 71.
  11. ^ Order of the British Empire, Honour Listing It's An Honour, Australian Government website. Accessed on 9 December 2010.
  12. ^ Philip Taylor, 'Ken G. Hall', Cinema Papers January 1974 p 76
  13. ^ Stage 3 at Fox Studios Australia
  14. ^ "MOVIE ART.". Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 - 1956) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 19 March 1927. p. 6. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 

External links[edit]