Beaumont Smith

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Beaumont Smith
Born Frank Beaumont Smith
(1885-08-15)August 15, 1885
Hallett, South Australia, Australia
Died January 2, 1950(1950-01-02) (aged 64)
St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Director, producer
Years active 1913–1938
Spouse(s) Elsie Fleming (m. 1911–1950; his death)

Frank Beaumont "Beau" Smith (15 August 1885 – 2 January 1950), was an Australian film director, producer and exhibitor, best known for making low-budget comedies.


Smith was born in Hallett, South Australia, and educated at East Adelaide Public School. He first worked as a journalist, writing for The Critic, The Register and The Bulletin, and helping C. J. Dennis found The Gadfly.

Theatre Work[edit]

He tried playwriting, working on an adaptation of On Our Selection with Steele Rudd – this was eventually rewritten by Bert Bailey to great success.[1][2]

He later worked as secretary for William Anderson.[3]

In 1911 he managed a European troupe of midgets, "Tiny Town".[4][5] and went into theatre management.[6]

He was a fan of the works of Henry Lawson and adapted several of his stories for stage and film.[7]

Film career[edit]

Smith made his first film in 1917, Our Friends, the Hayseeds. He went on to become one of the most prolific and popular Australian filmmakers of the silent era. Among his films were adaptations of the works of Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. His 1933 comedy The Hayseeds featured the first screen appearance of Cecil Kellaway.

Smith was famous for making his films quickly – sometimes he would complete shooting and post production within one month for budgets ranging from £600 to £1,200. His wife Elsie would comment on his scripts and his brother Gordon looked after company finances. He was sometimes known as "One Shot Beau" or "That'll Do Beau".[8]

Our Friends, the Hayseeds (1917) was shot in South Australia. Many of the cast had appeared in Beaumont Smith's theatrical productions of While the Billy Boils and Seven Little Australians. Smith followed it with The Hayseeds Come to Sydney (1917), shot in Sydney, The Hayseeds' Back-blocks Show (1917), shot in Brisbane, and The Hayseeds' Melbourne Cup (1918), filmed in Melbourne.

Smith's first non-Hayseed film was a wartime melodrama, Satan in Sydney (1918). He followed it with Desert Gold (1919), a race horse story, and the comedy Barry Butts In (1919) starring Barry Lupino.

In May 1919 he stopped producing films until better terms for exhibiting them could be found. He recommenced production in October.[8] He spent a number of months in Hollywood, then returned to Australia to make The Man from Snowy River (1920).

Smith travelled to New Zealand to make the inter-racial romance The Betrayer (1921), then back in Australia did While the Billy Boils (1921), adapted from the stories of Henry Lawson (which Smith had previously adapted for the stage). He made a bushranging drama The Gentleman Bushranger (1922), then returned to Hayseed comedies with Townies and Hayseeds (1923) and Prehistoric Hayseeds (1923).

Smith made two films starring Arthur Tauchert, The Digger Earl (1924) and Joe (1924). Then he did two comedies starring Claude Dampier, Hullo Marmaduke (1925) and The Adventures of Algy (1925).

Later career[edit]

Shrinking profits led to Smith retiring from film-making in 1925, although he returned briefly in the early 1930s to make The Hayseeds (1933), giving Cecil Kellaway his first lead in a film, and Splendid Fellows (1934).

He became managing director of Williamson Films (New Zealand) Ltd (later J. C. Williamson Picture Corporation Ltd), Wellington.[9] He retired to Killara, Sydney in 1938.

Personal life[edit]

Smith was married to Elsie Fleming from 1911, until his death. She was often an uncredited contributor with his work, helping him write scripts. His brother Gordon managed his finances.[10]


Smith died on 2 January, 1950 in Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards.[11] He was survived by his wife Elsie, he was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium.


The National Library of Australia tracked down a collection of 300 reels of Smith's films, including all his features. However, when the researchers arrived to collect it they were told that the entire collection had been burnt within the previous weeks, on the advice of an insurance company because of the film's inflammable nature.[12]

Selected filmography[edit]

Selected Theatre Credits[edit]

  • Seven Little Australians (1916)
  • While the Billy Boils (1916) – adaptation[13]
  • Joe Wilson and His Mates (1916) – adaptation[14]


  1. ^ "Literary Notes". The Register. Adelaide. 31 August 1907. p. 12. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  2. ^ "Bert Bailey Started In Melodrama And Made A Fortune From A Beard.". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 5 April 1953. p. 12. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  3. ^ "Dramatic Notes". The Register. Adelaide. 16 May 1908. p. 7. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ "Tiny Town". Table Talk. Melbourne. 7 December 1911. p. 33. Retrieved 26 October 2014 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "Beaumont Smith Back". The Mail. Adelaide. 20 September 1913. p. 1. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "Beaumont Smith's Enterprises". The Mail. Adelaide. 7 February 1914. p. 6. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "Henry Lawson State Funeral". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 September 1922. p. 10. Retrieved 21 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ a b Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1989 p 50-51.
  9. ^ "J. C. Williamson Films Ltd.". The Argus. Melbourne. 14 November 1925. p. 22. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ Shirley, Graham, 'Smith, Frank Beaumont (Beau) (1885–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, accessed 17 January 2012.
  11. ^ "RE will of FRANK BEAUMONT SMITH, late of Dormie". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (87). New South Wales, Australia. 26 May 1950. p. 1699. Retrieved 22 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ "That Sentimental Bloke". The Australian Women's Weekly. 9 December 1970. p. 13. Retrieved 17 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  13. ^ "While the Billy Boils". The Mail. Adelaide. 23 December 1916. p. 4. Retrieved 21 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  14. ^ "Ladies' Letter.". West Gippsland Gazette. Warragul, Vic. 28 November 1916. p. 3 Edition: MORNING. Retrieved 21 January 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]