South West Pacific (film)

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South West Pacific
Directed by Ken G. Hall
Produced by Ken G. Hall
Written by Tom Gurr
Starring Chips Rafferty
Bert Bailey
Peter Finch
Ron Randell
Edited by William Shepherd
Production
  company
Cinesound Productions
Distributed by Department of Information
Release date(s)
  • June 1943 (1943-06)
Running time 33 mins
Country Australia

South West Pacific is a 1943 propaganda short Australian film directed by Ken G. Hall which focuses on Australia as the main Allied base in the South West Pacific area. Actors depict a cross section of Australians involved in the war effort.[1]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Prime Minister John Curtin wrote a special foreword for the film.[2]

Release[edit]

The film was passed without cuts by the government censor, but the word "bloody", which was spoken twice, was removed by a cleric for screening in his cinema.[3]

Political Controversy[edit]

While initial reviews were generally good[4] a special screening of the movie to Members of Parliament in Canberra did not go well: reportedly several MPs laughed at sequences and walked out of the theatre. The general consensus was the film compared poorly to its companion feature, Desert Victory (1943), and should not have used actors instead of real people.[5]

The film was subsequently screened by Senator Bill Ashley, then-Minister for Information, after a speaking engagement in Brisbane, Queensland during which Ashley praised the achievements of the Curtin government, and claimed the film illustrated these.[6][7] The then-leader of the opposition, Arthur Fadden, complained that the movie was being used for electioneering purposes (it was near the time of the 1943 election) and asked for it to be withdrawn from distribution.[8]

Despite Ashley's protests, Curtin ordered that all future screenings of South West Pacific be stopped, and the movie be replaced by an entirely new documentary to be made later. Curtin claimed this was not because of Fadden's complaint, but due to his belief that South West Pacific was not sufficiently realistic and vivid to do justice to Australian services fighting in the South-west Pacific area; he wanted a better portrayal of the war in this zone, with more emphasis on fighting troops.[9][10] Curtin later added this was not to be interpreted as a criticism of Cinesound, who made the film within the specifications they were given.[11] Critical opinion seemed to turn on the movie, some critics alleging it was not good enough for export.[12]

Queensland Theatres Ltd then wrote to Curtin requesting that they continue to be allowed to show the film and Curtin said he would have another look at it.[13] The government later made Jungle Patrol (1944), set during the Finisterre Range campaign, which used real soldiers and emphasised fighting troops.

References[edit]

  1. ^ South West Pacific at Australian War Memorial
  2. ^ "CURTIN WRITES FILM FOREWORD.". Army News (Darwin, NT : 1941 - 1946) (Darwin, NT: National Library of Australia). 22 June 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "FILM CENSORED BY CLERIC.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 19 June 1943. p. 8. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "NEW FILMS.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 21 June 1943. p. 7. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  5. ^ ""DESERT VICTORY" SCREENED.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 1 July 1943. p. 6. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  6. ^ ""Unjustifiable Complacency" In Australia.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 12 May 1943. p. 11. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Labour Uses Films For Campaign.". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 14 July 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "FILM 'HAWING' PROTEST Complaint to Mr. Curtin.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 15 July 1943. p. 7. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "S.-W- Pacific Film To Be Withdrawn.". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) (Brisbane, Qld.: National Library of Australia). 17 July 1943. p. 1. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "WITHDRAWAL OF FILM.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 17 July 1943. p. 10. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  11. ^ ""South-West Pacific" Already Screened Overseas.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 21 July 1943. p. 5. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "WITHDRAWN FILM WAS DUE HERE WEDNESDAY.". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 17 July 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  13. ^ ""South-West Pacific" Not Being Withdrawn.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 20 July 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 

External links[edit]