Sunday, June 7, 2009


Surfing through the movie collection over at the admirable Internet Archive, I stumbled tonight upon a landmark in the wild world of cinema, an utterly mad movie in classic pulp style out of Australia. It's the earliest Australian movie I've ever seen, and it makes quite the exotic impression, though probably an embarrassing one as well for sensitive souls.

Here's how the archive itself describes the film: "A white novelist, looking for a story in the outback, is kidnapped by an Afghan slaver, betrothed to a white jungle-man, and menaced by a jealous half-caste rival, a hostile witch-doctor, his crazed-killer son, and opium smugglers!" The exclamation point is theirs, and it's well-earned. But they forgot to mention the tribal warfare and brutal violence, the snake eating, the jewel thieves, the bare-breasted natives, the skinny-dipping white woman (two years after Tarzan and His Mate, and after the Code crackdown in America), the stupendous racism (though that was probably implied) and Australia's answer to the singing cowboy: Dennis Hoey, the Inspector Lestrade of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, as a singing white aborigine chieftain. Trust me on this: this number has just about everything a movie cultist might want -- though some might miss the color.

Take a look at the complete 78 minute wonder yourself, either here or at the Archive. I'll have more to say about this barbaric little treasure in a subsequent post.

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