Nurse Cavell

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Nurse Cavell
Directed byW. J. Lincoln
Written byW. J. Lincoln[2]
Produced byW. J. Lincoln
StarringMargaret Linden
CinematographyMaurice Bertel
Cinema Films Ltd[3]
J. C. Williamson Ltd
Release date
21 February 1916[1]
LanguagesSilent film
English intertitles

Nurse Cavell is a 1916 Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln about the execution of Edith Cavell during World War I. It was also known as Edith Cavell.[4]

It is considered a lost film.


In an English garden, a Belgian officer meets a ward of an old clergyman friend of Edith Clavell.

Eventually Clavell is executed for spying.


  • Margaret Linden as Edith Cavell[5]
  • Arthur Styan as Captain Karl
  • Agnes Keogh as Nita
  • Stewart Garner as Captain Devereaux
  • Fred Camborne


The movie was independently produced at the J. C. Williamson Ltd studios in Melbourne.[6][7] It was shot 16–19 February 1916.[8]

W. J. Lincoln later claimed the film took one week from starting to write the story until screening:

In this relatively short space of time the producer had to prepare the scenarios, assemble his company, arrange for locations, scenery, costumes, etc., and direct the picture. It was not until the Wednesday that a start was actually made with the camera, and on the following Saturday afternoon the film was ready for the various mechanical processes necessary to complete its preparation.[4]


The Daily Herald called the film "an attraction of exceptional merit... the story is faithfully portrayed".[9]

The Melbourne Winner wrote that:

In view of such hurried work, it is a tribute to all concerned that so good a picture was turned out. The story is interesting, and the photography, with the exception of one or two sections, excellent. The cast which interprets Mr Lincoln's story is more than equal to the demands made upon it... Miss Margaret Linden's Nurse Cavell is a sympathetic study, although her face is marred somewhat by the heavy make-up used about the eyes. Miss Agnes Keogh, as Nita Devereux, has a fine screen presence, and acts in a convincingly natural manner.... Mr Arthur Styan... appears to advantage as Lieut. Karl; Mr Fred Kehoe as General von Bissing generally does well; Mr Stewart Garner looks capably alert as Captain Devereux, the Belgian attache, and Frank Cullinan as the priest supports Nurse Cavell in her hour of trial with befitting solemnity.[4]

The film appears to have been reasonably successful at the box office as a sequel was being prepared within two weeks of its release.[8]

Legal action[edit]

There had been a rival Australian film on the same subject, The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916) directed by John Gavin, who took legal action against Lincoln. This led to the film having to be advertised with the disclaimer "patrons are reminded that this picture is in no way connected with any other bearing the same name."[10]

Lincoln responded by making a sequel, La Revanche (1916).[11][12]


  1. ^ Mary Bateman, 'W. J. Lincoln', Cinema Papers, June–July 1980 p 214
  2. ^ Copyright registration of film at National Archives of Australia
  3. ^ "Advertising". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 17 March 1916. p. 2. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "THE PICTURE SHOWS". Winner. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 1 March 1916. p. 12. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  5. ^ "PATHE'S PICTURES". The Ballarat Courier. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 1 March 1916. p. 5 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  6. ^ "A HISTORICAL PICTURE". Warrnambool Standard. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 4 March 1916. p. 2 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  7. ^ "THE PICTURE SHOWS". Winner. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 23 February 1916. p. 10. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b Marsden, Ralph. 'The Old Tin Shed in Exhibition Street': The J. C. Williamson Studio, Melbourne's Forgotten Film Factory [online]. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, No. 157, 2008: 144-153. Availability: <;dn=519108300276483;res=IELAPA> ISSN 0312-2654. [cited 15 Nov 14].
  9. ^ "STAR PICTURES". Daily Herald. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 29 March 1916. p. 2. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Advertising". Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909–1954). Qld.: National Library of Australia. 5 April 1916. p. 1. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  11. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p60
  12. ^ "CINEMA PICTURES". Winner. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 8 March 1916. p. 12. Retrieved 24 October 2014.

External links[edit]