Nickel Queen

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Nickel Queen
Directed byJohn McCallum
Produced byJohn McCallum
Joy Cavill
Written byHenry C. James
John McCallum
Joy Cavill
Based ona story by Henry James
Anneke James
StarringGoogie Withers
John Laws
Music bySven Libaek
CinematographyJohn J. Williams
Edited byDon Saunders
Woomera Productions
Distributed byBritish Empire Films
Release date
Australia 1 April 1971 (1971-04-01)
Running time
89 minutes

Nickel Queen is a 1971 Australian comedy film starring Googie Withers and directed by her husband John McCallum.[2] The story was loosely based on the Poseidon bubble, a nickel boom in Western Australia in the late 1960s, and tells of an outback pub owner who stakes a claim and finds herself an overnight millionaire.


Meg Blake is the widowed owner of a pub in a small desert town in Western Australia. Corrupt American mining executive Ed Benson starts the rumour of a nickel discovery to sell shares to gullible investors. Meg heads the rumour and stakes the first claim. Benson promotes her as the "Nickel Queen".

Hippie Claude Fitzherbert follows Meg into Perth high society and becomes her lover. Benson is exposed as a fraud, Fitzherbert deserts Meg and runs off with Benson's wife and Meg is reunited with an old suitor from her hometown.



The original story was co-written by Henry James, an Australian journalist who had worked in England since the 1930s.[3] It was inspired by the recent Poseidon nickel boom in Western Australia. British film producer Sydney Box who had retired to Perth sent a copy of the script to John McCallum who had just finished making the TV series Barrier Reef and was interesting in moving back into features.[4] Finance was raised from a Perth syndicate, which included the local Channel Seven and Fauna Productions in Sydney.

Shooting started in November 1970 and took place in Perth and in the mining town of Broad Arrow. The film was full of plugs for companies which helped finance the film and cameos from West Australian politicians, including Premier Sir David Brand and Minister for Development Charles Court.[1][5][6]

Radio personality John Laws was cast in the lead after impressing John McCallum with his performance in an episode of the TV series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.[7] Alfred Sandor came out to Australia to play opposite Googie Withers in Plaza Suite and decided to stay.[8]


The film was highly popular in Perth, running for six months. It did less well in the eastern states.[1][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998 p255
  2. ^ 'Googie Withers and John McCallum', Talking Heads 8 Oct 2007 accessed 21 September 2012
  3. ^ "Pete Smith". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 28 October 1981. p. 160. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  4. ^ John McCallum interview with Brian McFarlane, The Oxford Companion to Australian Film, Oxford Uni Press, 1999 p 300
  5. ^ "Premier and Minister criticised for film appearances". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 4 December 1970. p. 8. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  6. ^ "The nickel queen". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 7 December 1970. p. 2. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  7. ^ Don Storey, Skippy at Classic Australian TV, 2008 accessed 21 September 2012
  8. ^ "MUM WAS CIRCUS STRONG WOMAN". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 18 November 1970. p. 10. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  9. ^ Brian McFarlane, 'Class Act: Googie Withers and John McCallum', Meanjin accessed 21 September 2012

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