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Professor Olivier: When I married her, she was a brunette. Now you can't believe anything she says.

         One Hour with You (1932)
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August Issue

Classic Film

Tony Buckley

In August our Special Guest is Anthony Buckley. Tony has been involved in the Australian Film Industry since the early 1960's, a time when we barely had a film industry to speak of. And he has worked on some of the most important films in modern Australian film history - films like Age of Consent, Wake in Fright, Caddie, and more recently... The Oyster Farmer. Tony has chosen the Musical we are screening, and has been involved in the Production and Editing of the two Features he is presenting over the first weekend in August.

To mark Tony's achievements in Australian film, and his unique taste in Movie musicals, this Month's eZine we'll be looking back on the Australian film industry of the 1960's, the life of Maurice Chevalier (the star of the Musical Tony has chosen), as well as some of the milestones in his career and the landmark Australian films that Tony has worked on.


This Month we kick off our Friday night Classic films series, focusing on the Musical film genre - which we'll explore in this edition of the magazine as well.
Australian film in the 1960's
Australia has been something of a pioneer and a leader in filmmaking. We produced the first feature length film in 1906 - The Story of the Kelly Gang. During the silent era we had the most international screen culture in the world as local audiences flocked to see films from right around the world.

We've produced many screen legends - Reg 'Snowy' Baker taught Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley Temple, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino how to ride, fence and swim, and produced and starred in his own films in both Australia and America. Errol Flynn took Hollywood debauchery to a new level in between acting gigs. And Australian screen practitioners have taken home a multitude of Oscars - Costume Designer Catherine Martin, Cinematographer John Seale, Actors Peter Finch and Cate Blanchette, and Director George Miller - to name just a few.

We have had our ups and downs though.

The industry was vibrant and productive from the post world war one period through to the onset of the Depression. While the filmmakers persisted, they were literally blown away by Hollywood who made bigger, grander, and more regular films. But Australian films weren't given the chance to compete as Hollywood locked up distribution locally, literally giving Australian films almost nowhere to screen.

Stalwarts like Frank Thring, Ken G Hall and Charles Chauvel kept an anaemic industry alive through the 40's and 50's, at times attracting good audiences and helping launch the careers of legends like Chips Rafferty.
                        On Set - From the Tropics to the Snow (1964)
Through the 1960's Australian filmmaking reached its low point. Experienced filmmakers had either died (Chauvel), or had moved into Television (Ken G Hall). There was little experience among practitioners and toward the end of the decade the government was exploring ways to revive the industry - efforts which eventually led to the Australian New Wave of the 1970's.

Throughout most of the 1960's few feature length films were made unless they were American or British co-productions, and by 1967 only one feature film was made - Journey out of Darkness the first colour film fully produced in Australia but written by an American and starring the man who financed the film.. an American actor named Konrad Matthaei. But by 1969, the industry was stirring - from 1960-68 a total of Twenty Nine feature films were made, while in 1969 alone Fifteen films were made.

For some short samples of the documentraries, the ads, the TV episodes and the features made in Australia in the 1960's - check out the
ASO Website.

And for a very interesting and different example of the kind of films we were making in the mid 60's, check out From the Tropics to the Sun.
Classic Musical Stars
Maurice Chevalier - actor, singer, entertainer, and very French
Chevalier worked as a carpenter's apprentice, an electrician, a printer, and a doll painter before making his start in show business in 1901. He was singing, unpaid, at a café when a member of the theatre saw him and suggested he try for a local musical. He got the part and made a name as a mimic and a singer.
Chevalier’s military career was less undistinguished.  When war broke out he was already in the front line, but sustained a shrapnel wound to his back within a few weeks and was soon after taken as a prisoner of war in Germany until 1916, he was released.

After the war, Chevalier went back to Paris where he later met the American composers George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and brought Dédé to Broadway in 1922. He made his Hollywood debut in 1928 where signed with Paramount Pictures.

While Chevalier under contract with Paramount, his passport featured in a Marx Brothers routine in their film Monkey Business (1931). In the same year Chevalier starred in a musical called The Smiling Lieutenant and despite the disdain audiences of the time held for musicals it proved a success.
In 1932, he starred with Jeanette MacDonald in Paramount's film musical, One Hour With You which became a success and one of the films instrumental in making musicals popular again. We are screening the film on Friday, 31st of July.

Although Chevalier was attracted to his co-star and made several passes at her, she rejected him firmly. He did not take rejection lightly and derided MacDonald as a "prude". She, in turn, called him "the quickest derrière pincher in Hollywood".

In addition to derrieres Chevalier had a reputation as a penny-pincher. When filming at Paramount, he balked at parking his car in the Paramount lot at ten cents a day and managed to negotiate the daily price down to five cents. When not playing around with young chorus-girls, he sought the company of Charles Boyer, also French, who introduced him to art galleries and good literature. Chevalier would try to copy him as the man of taste. When performing in English, he always put on a heavy French accent, although his normal spoken English was quite fluent and sounded more American.
Through the Thirties Chevalier was a big star but things changed with the war. In 1944, he participated in a Communist demonstration in Paris. This was a problem during the McCarthyism period; in 1951, he was refused re-entry into the U.S.

In 1954, after the McCarthy era abated Chevalier was welcomed back in the United States. The Billy Wilder film Love in the Afternoon (1957) was his first Hollywood film in more than 20 years.

He made Gigi (1958), from which he took his signature songs, "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and "I Remember it Well".
                         Gigi (1958) - Thank Heaven for Little Girls
He also received a special Oscar that year. In the 1960s he made a few more films, and in 1970 he sang the title song for Walt Disney's The AristoCats (1970). This marked his last contribution to the film industry.

Chevalier has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street.
Film genres
Our Friday night Classic Film Series for 2015 is focusing on the Musical.

The musical is a genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the story, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the film's plot or develop the film's characters, though in some cases they simply provide breaks in the storyline and are there for pure entertainment value. These musical interludes may be elaborate "production numbers".

There are a number of distinct kinds of musicals which are often related to their origin. Many film musicals were originally performed on the stage and take on elements of the original production. Well known examples include: Showboat, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music and West Side Story. Some were the inspiration of industry legends like Busby Berkeley and carry their creator's distinctive touch. Berkely's films were known for their impressive and inventive choreography which could only be properly displayed on film as many of his numbers could only be fully appreciated from a bird's eye view (something not possible in a stage show).

Some were vehicles for their star, the most unique and distinctive of which were the films of Esther Williams. But equally the films of Fred Astaire were adapted to allow for the showcasing of his rare talents There are no other films comparable to the films of Fred Astaire.

Some classic texts have been set to music. Examples include Oliver! (Oliver Twist), My Fair Lady (Pygmalion), and Les Miserables (the novel was first adapted to the stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber and then to film). Some musicals like The Producers have even taken the bizzare path from non-musical film to stage musical to film musical.

There have been a number of comedy musicals too. The Marx brothers were better known for their comedy but their films had many musical numbers in between the fast paced gags. Monty Pyton included a great many musical numbers in all their films which were in many cases the funniest parts of the films. And The Blues Brothers was a musical comedy that combined laughs with great musical numbers performed by legendary musicians

It is also important to remember how international the musical is. The Indian film industry (Bollywood) has always been one of the world's biggest producers of Musicals. Spain has a long history of producing musicals, and Stalinist Russia felt the musical was an excellent form of Soviet propaganda. Below is an entertaining example of what Russian filmmakers thought of (or were told to think of) Uncle Joe.
Scene from Fall of Berlin (1950)
Musicals are quite remarkable for their diversity, their ongoing popularity and their longevity. The first sound film was a musical (The Jazz Singer). And they have continued to be produced through every era and across many nations.

During our Friday Musical film series we'll only get the chance of a small taste of what the genre has to offer, but they will be films worth watching
Anthony Buckley
Regarded as one of the leaders of the Australian film Industry, Anthony Buckley began his career with the Sydney newsreel company Cinesound. For his first foray into feature films he edited Michael Powell’s Age of Consent, before working on Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright and later Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote. His first production as a feature film producer was Caddie in 1975, a winner of 14 awards. He went on to produce many memorable and award-winning feature films including The Irishman, The Night The Prowler, The Killing of Angel Street, Kitty and the Bagman, Bliss (selected for competition in Cannes), beDevil, On Our Selection and Oyster Farmer. For television he has produced The Harp in the South, Poor Man’s Orange, Man on the Rim - Peopling of the Pacific, Celluloid Heroes, Mr Edmund, Bryce Courtenay’s The Potato Factory and Jessica, The Heroes and many others.

His awards include:

1977 - A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia)
in the Queen's Birthday Honours List

2000 - AFI Raymond Longford Award

2000 - Ken G Hall Award presented by the National Screen and Sound Archive

2003 - BIFF Chauvel Award

Anthony is not just a film Editor and Producer, he is also a lover of great film. Come along to a screening the weekend he is here in Townsville - you'll learn a great deal, you'll be entertained, and you'll gain new insights into film with the help of an Australian cinema great... Anthony Buckley.

Screening

Friday, 31st of July

7.00pm start

One Hour With you (1932)

Andre and Colette Bertier are happily married. When Colette introduces her husband to her flirtatious best friend, Mitzi, he does his best to resist her advances. But she is persistent, and very cute, and he succumbs. Mitzi's husband wants to divorce her, and has been having her tailed. Andre gets caught, and must confess to his wife. But Colette has had problems resisting the attentions of another man herself, and they forgive each other.

Comedy/ Musical/ Romance    Rated: G    80 mins
 
More Details

Screening

Sunday, 2nd of August

7.00pm start

Adam's Woman (1971)

Adam is a young American wrongly accused and convicted of murder. He is sentenced to death but has his sentence is commuted to twenty years in as a convict in Australia. The governor of the colony has a scheme in mind to settle Australia by allowing convicts to marry and by giving them land, and Adam is the perfect choice to prove his scheme is viable. He is partnered with Bess, a young Irish lass, and together they endure the hardships of colonial life.

Drama   Rated:M   116 mins
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Screening

Saturday, 1st of August

7.00pm start

Bliss (1985)


An advertising executive dies and goes to hell... except nothing changes. Well, his daughter is buying drugs with sexual favours from her brother, and the number of cancer-causing products is on the increase. But the notes he writes to himself to prove he hasn't gone insane are getting more disjointed, and he runs off with an ex-prostitute called Honey Barbera.
A strange but fascinating film adapted from the Peter Carey novel


Comedy/ Drama    Rated: R          112 mins
 
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