The Enemy Within (1918 film)

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The Enemy Within
Directed by Roland Stavely
Produced by Roland Stavely
Written by Roland Stavely
Starring Snowy Baker
Cinematography Franklyn Barrett
Release date
11 March 1918
Running time
5,500 feet
Country Australia
Language Silent film
English intertitles

The Enemy Within is a 1918 Australian silent film starring renowned Australian sportsman Snowy Baker in his first screen role.[1]

Unlike many Australian silent movies, it is possible to see the full film today.


Jack Airlie is a secret agent who has worked for four years abroad. He returns to Australia after four years away and falls for Myree Brew, beautiful daughter of his oldest friend, Mrs Drew. Rich businessman Henry Brasels is also in love with Myree.

Brasels is running a gang of German saboteurs, including radical leader Bill Warne, who is planning to set off a series of bombs. Brasels lures Jack into a trap but he manages to escape with the help of his sidekick, detective Jimmy cook. Brasels kidnaps Myee and tries to get on board a German ship. however Jack manages to climb down a steep cliff and rescue her, as the Coastal Patrol capture Warne and Warne.


  • Snowy Baker as Jack Airlie
  • John Faulkner as Henry Brasels
  • Lily Molloy as Myree Drew
  • Nellie Calvin as Claire Lerode
  • Billy Ryan as Bill Warne
  • Sandy McVea as Jimmy Cook
  • Lily Rochefort as Mrs Drew
  • Gerald Harcourt as Glassop
  • Marjory Donovan as the child


The film was specifically concocted a vehicle for Snowy Baker, with plenty of action sequences to demonstrate his physical prowess, including climbing down a 300-foot cliff, leaping from a moving car, diving 80 foot into Sydney harbour at Coogee Bay and hand-to-hand fighting.[2][3]

The story was partly inspired by the real-life raid of the SMS Wolf in the Pacific during World War I, and the sinking of the Cumberland off Gabo Island.[4][5] The villains were based on the Industrial Workers of the World, and shown to be operating in Sydney high society.[citation needed]

Filming started in December 1917. The director, Roland Stavely, was a stage director for J.C. Williamson Ltd.

The part of Snowy Baker's assistant was played by Sandy McVea, an aboriginal boxer.[6]


The film was specifically advertised as "not a war picture but a thrilling drama of a special agent's fight against spies in Australia".[7] It was a hit and led to a number of action movies starring Baker.

A novelised version of the script was published in 1919.


  1. ^ "At the Movies.". The Mirror of Australia. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 8 March 1918. p. 14. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "THE ENEMY WTTHIN". The Register (Adelaide) 3 Apr 1918: 9 accessed 18 December 2011
  3. ^ "It All Began With a Feature Movie On The Kelly Gang.". The News. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 16 November 1946. p. 2. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Cumberland Fact Sheet
  5. ^ Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1998 p48
  6. ^ Sandy McVea's boxing record
  7. ^ "Advertising." The Sydney Morning Herald 9 Mar 1918: 2 accessed 18 December 2011

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