Raymond Longford

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Raymond Longford
RaymondLongford01.jpg
Portrait of Raymond Longford, circa 1935.
Born John Walter Longford
(1878-09-23)23 September 1878
Hawthorn, Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.
Died 2 April 1959(1959-04-02) (aged 80)
North Sydney, Australia.
Other names Raymond Hollis Longford
Occupation Director, actor, screenwriter, editor, film producer
Years active 1911–1941

Raymond Longford (23 September 1878 – 2 April 1959) was a prolific Australian film director, writer, producer and actor during the silent era.[1] Longford was a major director of the silent film era of the Australian cinema. He formed a production team with Lottie Lyell. His contributions to Australian cinema with his ongoing collaborations with Lyell include The Sentimental Bloke (1919) and The Blue Mountains Mystery (1921) earned an AFI award named in his honour, inducted in 1968.

Biography[edit]

John Walter Hollis Longford was born in Hawthorn, a suburb of Melbourne, son of John Walter Longford, a civil servant originally from Sydney, and his English wife, Charlotte Maria. His family soon started referring to him as "Ray". By 1880 they briefly moved to Paynesville, then went to Sydney when Longford's father became a warder at Darlinghurst Gaol.[2]

Longford became a sailor and spent his early life at sea. He started acting on the stage in India under the name Raymond Hollis Longford. In the early 1900s he toured Australia and New Zealand with Edwin Geach's Popular Dramatic Organisation, and Clarke and Meynell companies. He was a stage manager for the Liliam Meyers Dramatic Company.[3] Longford often appeared alongside a young actress called Lottie Lyell, who would become Longford's key creative partner.

He was an early member of the Australian actors union, a forerunner to actors equity.[4]

Film career[edit]

In 1908 Longford worked on a film produced by Charles Cozens Spencer about the fight between Tommy Burns and Jack Johnson, probably the first movie Longford was involved in. He then began appearing in movies for Spencer as an actor under the direction of Alfred Rolfe such as Captain Midnight, the Bush King (1911).[5][6]

Move into Directing[edit]

Rolfe eventually left Spencer's company to make films elsewhere so in 1911 Spencer hired Longford to direct his first feature, The Fatal Wedding, adapted from a play in which Longford had appeared on stage and starring Lyell. Made quickly, with a limited budget and small crew, it was a major financial success and launched his career behind the camera.

Longford followed this up with several other play adaptations for Spencer including The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole (1911), Sweet Nell of Old Drury and The Midnight Wedding (1912); Longford also wrote an original for the screen The Tide of Death. Lyell appeared in most of these and also made increasingly important contributions behind the scene as a writer, editor, producer and co-director.

Freelancing[edit]

Charles Cozens Spencer eventually withdrew from Australian film production due to the formation of "the Combine" (which absorbed Spencer's old company). This left Longford without his main backer and he found it increasingly difficult to secure funding for a time.

He went to work for the Fraser Film Release and Photographic Company for who he made a feature and a number of shorts, however they eventually ended the contract after Longford became involved in a lawsuit following the making of the highly popular The Silence of Dean Maitland (1914).[7][8]

Longford had an operation in March 1915.[9]

He made another number of shorts for a variety of companies and taught film acting.[10][11] He then made two films in New Zealand and also became embroiled in another legal battle over The Church and the Woman (1917).

In September 1916 he worked for Crick and Jones preparing scenarios.[12]

Career Peak: The Sentimental Bloke[edit]

Longford's career revived towards the end of World War I when he helped establish the Southern Cross Feature Film Company in South Australia. He enjoyed a large box office success with The Woman Suffers (1918) (despite the film being banned in New South Wales) which enabled him to get finance for an adaptation of the poetry of C. J. Dennis, The Sentimental Bloke (1919). This was an enormous critical and popular success, and is regarded as one of the greatest Australian films of all time. Longford followed it with another hit, On Our Selection (1920), from the stories of Steele Rudd.

The popularity of these two movies saw Longford move away from melodramatic convention to more realistic treatment of subject matter.[13] Both Bloke and Selection led to well-received sequels which were also directed by Longford. He and Lyell had another hit with The Blue Mountains Murder Mystery.

Decline[edit]

As the 1920s went on, Longford again found difficulties securing finance and/or distribution for his films. He and Lyell formed a company[14] and he made some for Australasian Films but the collaboration was not a successful one. In 1925 Lottie Lyell died of tuberculosis and Longford's career never recovered.

In 1926 it was announced Longford would serve on the board of the film company Phillips Film Productions Ltd,[15] but little seems to have come of this. He gave evidence at the 1928 Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia[16] where he urged the introduction of a quota for local movies and complained about the influence of the Combine of Australasian Films and Union Theatres on local production.[17]

Longford appeared in bankruptcy court in 1929 but managed to tour Europe the following year, spending 18 months touring various filmmaking facilities.[18][19][20] "Naturally the talkies have revolutionised everything," he said. "And to some extent I now feel as if I am returning to my original occupation — the talking stage."[21]

He returned to Australia in February 1930 and told Gayne Dexter that :

For years and years I fought for the English industry. For years and years I battled and agitated against the Americans. But now, after seeing the English film men at work, I am sorry to say that I backed the wrong side. It was only through the kindness of the American executives in London — the very men against whom I had fought — that I was able to visit studios and get an insight into production conditions. I am convinced that it is impossible for anybody to teach England to make pictures: the producers don't want to learn: the English distributors don't want Australian films: and if we ever get a market there, our productions will have to be through Australian channels. That has already been demonstrated by the fact that English distributors have not accepted a single Australian film, even under the quota laws, whereas the American distributors operating in the British Isles have taken eight or ten — and paid cash for them![22]

Longford said UFA were the most advanced studio he saw.[23]

Sound Era[edit]

On his return to Australia Lonford sought financing for a film about the Australia Light Horse in World War One, Desert Legion, with a budget of £50,000.[24][25] He was unable to secure this and started lobbying for a quota for local films.[26]

In the early 1030s Longford worked steadily as an actor and assistant director on such films as Diggers in Blighty. He assisted Beaumont Smith with the direction of The Hayseeds (1933) and Splendid Fellows (1934) (according to contemporary reports he directed The Hayseeds[27]).

He managed to direct another feature, The Man They Could Not Hang (1934) - although he missed the premiere due to illness which required hospitalization.[28]

That year he was elected head of the New South Wales Talking Picture Producers Association with the aim of promoting a quota for Australian films.[29][30] In 1935 he established Mastercraft Film Corporation Ltd to take advantage of the 1935 NSW Quota Act but the hoped for boom in production did not eventuate and Matercraft made no movies.[31][32] In 1939 Longford sued some Mastercraft executives for libel and settled out of court.[33][34]

Later years[edit]

Longford managed to stay employed in the film industry during the 1930s but found this impossible with the advent to World War II, which brought local production to an almost complete halt. During the war he was a clerk for the U.S. military stationed in Australia, then he became a night watchman on the Sydney wharfs.

In October 1950 Longford was profiled by Ernest Harrison for AM magazine, then in 1955 a complete 35 mm print of The Sentimental Bloke was discovered and screened at the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals, bringing renewed attention to Longford.[2] He died on 2 April 1959 at the age of 80.

Personal life[edit]

Longford married Melena Louisa Keen at St Luke's Anglican Church, Concord, Sydney, on 5 February 1900. They had one child, a son, Victor Hollis Longford. Longford and Melena later separated and he started a relationship with Lottie Lyell but could not marry her as Melena would not give him a divorce until 1926 – the year after Lyell died. Melina would not agree to a divorce because her father, William Henry Keen, did not approve of divorce. William Henry Keen died in 1922.

Longford married for a second time in 1933 to Emilie Elizabeth Anschutz.[5]

AFI Longford Life Achievement Award[edit]

Named in Longford's honour, the AFI Raymond Longford Award is the Australian film industry's highest accolade for an individual based on their contributions to "unwavering commitment over many years to excellence in the film and television industries and has, through their body of work to date, contributed substantially to the enrichment of Australian screen culture". Since the introduction of the award by the AFI in 1968, winners have included Peter Weir, David Stratton, Ian Jones and Geoffrey Rush.[35]

Filmography[edit]

Director[edit]

Actor only[edit]

Crew Member[edit]

Theatre Credits[edit]

Unfilmed Projects[edit]

Among the projects Longford planned but did not film included:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raymond Longford at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b Phillip Dutchak, "Raymond Hollis Longford", Cinema Papers, March 1991 p25-31
  3. ^ "Theatrical Gossip.". The Newsletter: an Australian Paper for Australian People (Sydney, NSW : 1900 – 1918) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 April 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "ONCE AN ACTOR.". Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 March 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Wasson, Mervyn J., 'Longford, Raymond John Walter Hollis (1878–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University accessed 6 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Raymond Longford", Cinema Papers, January 1974 p51
  7. ^ "NO. 1 JURY COURT.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 September 1914. p. 5. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "LAW REPORT.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 6 November 1914. p. 5. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "MOVING PICTURES.". Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 March 1915. p. 15. Retrieved 28 November 2014.  Download
  10. ^ "Advertising.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 15 May 1915. p. 1. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "VOLUNTARY WORK ON SUNDAY.". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1930) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 10 September 1916. p. 5. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "VOLUNTARY WORK ON SUNDAY.". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 10 September 1916. p. 5. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press 1989 p 32
  14. ^ "THE MOVIE KNOW-ALL.". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1930) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 11 March 1923. p. 17. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Cinema Notes.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 12 November 1926. p. 3. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "THE FILM INDUSTRY.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 18 June 1927. p. 14. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "FILM COMMISSION.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 November 1927. p. 12. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "LAW REPORT. (Continued from page 8.) IN BANKRUPTCY.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 19 September 1929. p. 9. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "IN BANKRUPTCY.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 October 1929. p. 8. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "LAW REPORT. (Continued from page 6.) IN BANKRUPTCY.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 3 October 1929. p. 8. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  21. ^ "AUSTRALIAN FILMS.". The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 18 December 1931. p. 11 Edition: HOME (FINAL) EDITION. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  22. ^ "SCREEN AND STARS.". Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 13 February 1930. p. 15. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "AUSTRALIAN FILMS.". The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 18 December 1931. p. 11 Edition: HOME (FINAL) EDITION. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "LIGHT HORSE TALKIE.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 5 March 1930. p. 10. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "MAKING A TALKIE.". National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954) (Bathurst, NSW: National Library of Australia). 26 March 1930. p. 4. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "AUSTRALIAN FILMS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 28 October 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  27. ^ "The World of Pictures.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 19 August 1933. p. 19. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  28. ^ "PERSONAL.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 31 May 1934. p. 9 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "AUSTRALIAN PRODUCERS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 November 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  30. ^ "FILM QUOTA.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 4 December 1934. p. 4. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  31. ^ "MASTERCRAFT FILM CORPORATION LIMITED.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 16 April 1935. p. 15. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  32. ^ "THE FILM INDUSTRY.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 25 June 1935. p. 5. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  33. ^ "ACTION SETTLED.". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 31 May 1938. p. 6. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  34. ^ "CLAIM FOR £5000.". National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954) (Bathurst, NSW: National Library of Australia). 31 May 1938. p. 2. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  35. ^ http://www.afi.org.au/AM/ContentManagerNet/ContentDisplay.aspx?ContentID=8183&Section=Raymond_Longford_Award
  36. ^ "ENTERTAINMENTS.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 2 March 1907. p. 6. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  37. ^ "LILIAN MEYERS DRAMATIC CO.". Morning Post (Cairns, Qld. : 1897 – 1907) (Cairns, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 10 January 1907. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  38. ^ "HIS MAJESTY'S THEATRE.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 13 July 1908. p. 2. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  39. ^ "May Ronno Dramatic Co.". Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 – 1915) (Grafton, NSW: National Library of Australia). 22 September 1908. p. 4. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  40. ^ "Advertising.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) (Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 September 1908. p. 1. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  41. ^ "Advertising.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) (Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia). 26 January 1909. p. 1. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  42. ^ "OLD PROGRAMMES.". The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956) (Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 13 February 1936. p. 15. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  43. ^ "Advertising.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 26 March 1910. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  44. ^ "OLD PROGRAMMES.". The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 – 1956) (Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 12 March 1936. p. 14. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  45. ^ "THE FATAL WEDDING.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) (Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia). 26 August 1910. p. 2. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  46. ^ "AMUSEMENTS.". Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954) (Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 November 1910. p. 5. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  47. ^ "Advertising.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 30 September 1922. p. 2. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  48. ^ STAGE JOTTINGS. Auckland Star, Volume LXIV, Issue 5, 7 January 1933, Page 2 accessed 11 September 2013
  49. ^ "THE EXHIBITION.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 23 December 1927. p. 12. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  50. ^ "ENTERTAINMENTS.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 5 March 1930. p. 21. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  51. ^ "NEW FILMS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 13 April 1935. p. 17. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  • Murray, Scott; (ed.) (1994). Australian Cinema. St.Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin/AFC. p. 325. ISBN 1-86373-311-6. 

External links[edit]