Robbery Under Arms (1920 film)

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Robbery Under Arms
Directed by Kenneth Brampton
Produced by Pearson Tewksbury
Written by Kenneth Brampton
Based on novel by Rolf Boldrewood
Starring Kenneth Brampton
S.A. Fitzgerald
Cinematography Lacey Percival
Pacific Photo Plays[1][2]
Distributed by Union Theatres
Release date
2 October 1920
Running time
53 min
Country Australia
Language Silent
Budget ₤3,000
Box office ₤16,000[3]

Robbery Under Arms is a 1920 Australian film directed by Kenneth Brampton. The film was financed by mining magnate Pearson Tewksbury.[4]


Two brothers, Dick and Jim Marsden, become involved with the bushranger, Captain Starlight. They romance two girls, work on the goldfields, and are captured by the police after Starlight is shot dead.[5]



There had been several attempts to make films based on the Rolfe Boldrewood novel since the bushranging ban by the New South Wales government in 1912. In particular there were attempts by Stanley Crick in 1916 and Alfred Rolfe in 1918. However Kenneth Brampton managed to secure permission for this 1920 version, mostly likely because it stressed the moral lessons of the story.[6]

Kenneth Brampton and actress Tien Hogue managed to persuade the mining magnate Pearson Tewksbury to raise the budget and act as producer.[3]

Brampton was acting in the play Lightnin' which he left to make the film.[7]

The film was shot on location at Braidwood and in the Araluen Valley near Canberra. The bushrangers the Clarke brothers reportedly worked in this region.[8][9]

Renowned horseman "Top" Hassall doubled for Brampton on the horse riding scenes.[10]

Future director Charles Chauvel was working around the Sydney studios and attending to horses on the film. He has a bit part.

The film was the final acting role for Roy Redgrave who died in 1922.


The movie was reportedly successful at the box office[6] and grossed up to ₤16,000. However returns were so slow and the distributor and exhibitor took so much that Pearson Tewksbury was dissuaded from further film production.[3]

Variety said the film was "of only fair quality, the picture just gets by."[11]

Preservation status[edit]

A "copy comprising about three quarters of the film" was found and combined with already known footage to produce a near-complete version.[12] A five-minute sequence is still missing.[12]


  1. ^ "DID YOU KNOW?.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 10 January 1947. p. 2. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Robbery Under Arms.". The Sunday Times. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 31 October 1920. p. 22. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Graham Shirley & Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Angus & Robertson, 1989 p 70-71
  4. ^ Pearson Tewksbury at Australian Dictionary of Biography
  5. ^ "Advertising.". Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 3 February 1921. p. 5. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 101.
  7. ^ "GOSSIP OF THE THEATRES.". The Sydney Mail. National Library of Australia. 3 March 1920. p. 10. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "EARL'S COURT.". The Morning Bulletin. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 15 January 1921. p. 10. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  9. ^ ""ROBBERY UNDER ARMS.".". Goulburn Evening Penny Post. NSW: National Library of Australia. 27 March 1920. p. 1 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Sydney's Talking About.". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 3 April 1947. p. 16. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Edmondson, Ray; Pike, Andrew (1982). "Australia's Lost Films" (PDF). National Library of Australia. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 

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