'Bitter springs', 'Robbery under arms', 'Kangaroo', 'The Sundowners' set in South Australia 1950-60

The Rank Organisation's Robbery Under Arms was filmed in South Australia in 1957.
Image courtesy Moviemem

Only four feature films were shot in South Australia between 1918 and 1968. There were two English productions – Ealing Studios’ Bitter Springs (1950) and the Rank Organisation’s Robbery Under Arms (1957) – and two American – Twentieth Century-Fox’s Kangaroo (1952) and Warner Brothers’ The Sundowners (1960) starring Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr.

Films made in Australia became a new attraction after World War II with Bitter springs, The overlanders, Smiley and Jedda, which starred two Aboriginal actors, proving popular.

Bitter springs was greeted as a major achievement with prime minister Robert Menzies attending the world premiere at Wests Theatre in Hindley Street, Adelaide, on June 23 1950. Other Australian films, although with international actors, were The Shiralee and On the beach.
 
The outdoor sequences of some of these films were captured at South Australia locations and the world premiere of Robbery under arms was at Port Augusta in 1957.

Neville Shute’s novel was adapted to film in 1956 as A town like Alice.  It starred Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch. It was shown in Japan under the title Malay Death March: A Town Like Alice. (In 1981 it was adapted into a popular television miniseries called A town like Alice, starring Helen Morse and Bryan Brown.)

The Alice refers to Alice Springs, named after the wife of South Australia’s postmaster general and superintendent of telegraphs, Charles Todd, who oversaw the building of the Adelaide to Darwin telegraph line, completed in 1872. South Australia administered the North Territory at that time.

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Ludwik Dutkiewicz and Ian Davidson's 'Time in summer' (1968) gets to the Berlin Film Festival

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Charles Todd links Australia to world via 1872 Adelaide-Darwin telegraph line project

Charles Todd became a technological and engineering hero of the 1870s when he oversaw the epic Adelaide-Darwin telegraph project. Todd came to Adelaide in 1855 with a background at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. His maths was used to help determine the longitude between Greenwich and Cambridge University observatories by telegraphic means. Todd became fascinated with telecommunications while working with Electric Telegraph Co., and with C. V. Walker, electrical engineer to the South Eastern Railway, a pioneer of submarine cables. Britain’s astronomer royal George Airy nominated Todd as South Australia’s superintendent of telegraphs – a role extending to government astronomer, postmaster general and meteorologist. In 1856, a year after he arrived in Adelaide, Todd’s enthusiasm for telegraphs saw the first government link between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, followed by a line to Port Augusta (1865). Todd worked with Victorian telegraphs superintendent Samuel McGowan to link Adelaide and Melbourne by telegraph. In 1870, South Australian premier Henry Bull Strangways decided, independent of other colonies, to build a telegraph line from Port Augusta to Darwin, if the British-Australian Telegraph Co. would lay a submarine cable from Darwin to Java, enabling a link to England. Todd headed the project. Todd’s organisation major obstacles to finish the Adelaide-Darwin 3,178km line within two years by 1872. Todd was later honoured as fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Meteorological Society and Society of Electrical Engineers.

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By 2007, the Roman Catholicism was the largest faith denomination in South Australia, with 21% of the state’s population.The church benefited from the late 1930s Thomas Playford era rapid growth in South Australian manufacturing industry that transformed the state economically and socially. After World War II, to meet the demand for labour, the state drew many immigrants from the United Kingdom and Europe. This migration further boosted the size of the Catholic community.

 

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