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How Dixie waltzed with Matilda: the influence on Australia of cinematic images of the South.

AUSTRALIA AND THE AMERICAN SOUTH ARE HISTORICALLY BOUND BY THEIR ideas of whiteness, forging their cultural identities through storytelling that stereotyped blacks in order to contrast the individualized white (Dyer xiii). The merits of a comparison between Dixie and Matilda were, however, often masked by the mutual status of the United States and Australia as settler or supplanting societies (Day 9) and the success of the Western film genre. This shared role as colonizer has caused critics to slip easily into comparisons between the cinematic representation of Native Americans and Indigenous Australians, a view that has been until now, the "accepted wisdom" (Maynard 216-35, Molloy 124). A closer look at the genesis of the cinematic images of Indigenous Australia reveals a more useful comparison with African Americans as they appear in plantation films depicting slavery in the South.

Hollywood's images of docile African American slaves served as a model for the depiction of Indigenous Australians in feature films because they sustained Australia's academic and social debates about the founding of white Australia. By establishing the primacy of African American character types as models for Australian characterizations of Aborigines, I will examine how cinematic images of the South and the Southern construction of whiteness resonated in Australia. The influence of the South first reached across the Pacific during the nineteenth century with visiting theatrical companies and minstrel shows and culminated in the first decades of the twentieth century with film. A close examination of two Australian silent films, The Birth of White Australia (1928) and Trooper O'Brien (1928), will demonstrate the impact of these forces.

American Film in Australia

From the early twentieth century Australian audiences displayed a particular affinity for American films, matching the consumption of any and surpassing the consumption of most other countries. Many critics maintain that American films began to dominate the Australian market around the time of the First World War and "locally made films were modelled on Hollywood production styles" (Collins 2) from that time. However, the Australian film trade journal Photo-play and its listings of films available for Australian release through International Pictures reveals an earlier, equally pervasive American influence. American film companies such as Biograph, Bison, Essanay, Edison, Kalem, Lubin, Selig and Vitagraph all featured prominently among the lists of feature films released in Australia in the years before 1914. (1) Biograph, the company so closely associated with the legendary D. W. Griffith and The Birth of a Nation (1915), had a discernable influence on the Australian market and Australian audiences well before the dramatic success of Griffith's classic. Therefore, rather than dating the influence of American ideas, techniques, and images from 1914 or 1915, we should go back a little further. Aside from Biograph other American companies contributed heavily to the silent film dramas appearing in Australia before 1914. An examination of the weekly Photo-Hay from April through September 1912 shows that twenty-nine foreign production companies released films in Australia through International Pictures during that six-month period. The largest single national foreign filmmaker represented was the United States. During the six-month span identified for this sample, no fewer than seven American production companies were ever represented. From April through September 1912, 367 dramatic features were released; of those 199 or about 54% were made in America. The survey also revealed five feature films, three from Kalem and two from Vitagraph that were set in the South of the United States and dealt with the American Civil War and issues of race.

The American Western as uneasy model

One of the early favorites of Australian movie-goers was the American Western. At first sight there appear to be links between the cinematic representations of the aboriginal peoples of the United States and Australia. After all, both the Native Americans and Indigenous Australians were the original owners and both were and are regularly credited with possessing a special affinity with the land. Yet the myth of terra nullius, the claim that when the Europeans arrived Australia was without owners, dominated Australian history and cinematic iconography. Hence the mode of representation adopted in Australian silent films denied Indigenous Australians the status of original ownership. Instead they were presented as nature's creatures, primitives (Peters-Little 22), or ultimately as helpers and friends (Pike and Cooper 2) to the European. The most favored roles for Indigenous characters in Australian films were either as the exotic other or "faithful ally" (Pike and Cooper 2). Of the two, the image of the ally, the faithful tracker/guide and servant was the most common, especially when the Indigenous character was featured as anything more than part of a hostile mob.

Although there were frequent depictions of both Native American and Indigenous Australians as opponents of European occupation, of the two, only Native Americans were ever accorded the status of warrior and noble savage, as, for example, in the American production The Indian (1914). In Australian silent films the opposition offered by Indigenous Australians to the newcomers was depicted typically as the cowardly and unpredictable actions of wild blacks, as in early scenes from the Australian film The Birth of White Australia (1928). The kinds of attacks depicted in Australian films could best be likened to just another of the many natural threats posed to Australian settlers by the land itself rather than the rational actions of noble opponents defending their homes. This is the key point of contrast that has often been overlooked.

America and Australia therefore did not define or represent their frontier experiences in the same way. American frontiersman--such as Daniel Boone and Buffalo Bill Cody--figures famous in history, folklore, and film, battled nature and Native Americans to carve out a place in the wilderness. Their Australian equivalents were the inland explorers such as Burke and Wills (2) who were primarily depicted in a struggle with nature and the land itself. Writing in 1889 just over one hundred years after the beginning of permanent European settlement in Australia, a colonial Governor, Sir George Bowen, wrote that taming Australia's frontier had been "a triumph of peaceful progress ... conquests not over man, but over nature" (Reynolds 3). The Australian Aborigines were not considered to have offered serious resistance to settlement. Unlike the United States where treaties were made with the original inhabitants, in Australia there were no treaties because Australia defined European settlement as the occupation of vacant land. As a result, the cinematic image of the subordinated, marginalised (Guerrero 3), docile, foolish, and sometimes lazy African American slave was more compatible with Australia's preferred, albeit mythical, image of Indigenous Australians as harmless creatures who offered no substantial threat to the tide of colonization that inevitably overtook them.

Grace Elizabeth Hale helps identify Southern images that resonated with Australian racial cords. Hale comments on the creation, by Southern whites, of stories that allowed them to build a collective and pervasive sense of community dependent on a series of contrasts with African American characters. One of the most favored African American character types or masks (Hale 17) was the worshipful black retainer (Hale 52). It is no coincidence that the Australian film historian Andrew Pike, writing about Australian Indigenous characters in the prolific "bushranging genre" of the silent era in Australia, maintained that Australia's Aborigines were frequently typed as "faithful" (Aboriginals 592) allies to the film's hero. (3) The nature of the Indigenous character's support, certainly in surviving films and fragments, were often as tracker/guides and servants. This character type appeared in a number of Australian films dating back to 1907, Robbery Under Arms (1907), Captain Starlight (1910), Thunderbolt ((1910), The Assigned Servant (1911), The Squatter's Son (1911), Assigned to his Wife(1911), Cooee and the Echo (1912), The Bondage of the Bush (1913), Robbery Under Arms (1920) and The Gentleman Bushranger (1921).

Native American images from the early years of American silent films especially between 1908 and 1910 when Native Americans were often presented as "as guide or saviour to the white hero" are relevant to considering the genesis of Indigenous Australian representation (Simmon 4). After 1910, however, the Native American as friend-to-the-whites was replaced by the savage, the "Red Man" as a formidable enemy and menace, and the real peak in the popularity of the Western in Australia came after this shift had taken place (Collins 46). The most popular of the American Westerns after 1910 that featured Native Americans depicted them typically as savage and brutal rivals rather than as subordinates. By contrast, in Australia between 1910 and 1914 films, especially those of the "Bushranger genre," repeatedly featured Indigenous Australian characters as friends.

The shift in Hollywood's view of the Native American became clear with films like The Massacre (1912) and The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (1913), both written and directed by D. W. Griffith for Biograph. In these films Griffith presents the Indians as dangerous enemies with the ability to attack or even wipe out a white settlement. In The Massacre, however, Griffith first presents an attack by whites on a Native American village. The result, as an intertitle makes clear, is "At the Indians' stronghold, the Chief plans vengeance." The initial white attack is therefore used as motivation for the film's climatic revenge attack on a settler wagon train. On the other hand, when Indigenous Australians staged attacks on settlers in Australian films, the attacks came without apparent motivation and they were never depicted as conscious acts of reprisal or in defense of land and home.

The distinction between American cinematic representations of Indians and Australian depictions of Aborigines is best exemplified by the 1914 Klaw & Erlanger production The Indian. This three-reel feature confirms the white presence as an incursion. The Native American animosity towards the newcomers is clearly documented in an intertitle--"The Red Man aroused by the invasion of the Whites"--that is in stark contrast to the myths of terra nullius and peaceful settlement that were at the heart of Indigenous representation during the Australian silent era. In fact it was only after vigorous debate in Australia throughout the 1980s and 90s that the word "invasion" began to replace "settlement" in public discourse and school textbooks. American history and iconography were therefore somewhat, but not wholly, different.

The Indian also indicates the differences between how American directors treated Native American and African American characters, differences that are blurred or nonexistent in the Australian representation of Aborigines. In The Indian, the Native American chief War Eagle travels to Washington to meet with General Sterling in a bid to resolve the frontier conflict. War Eagle is depicted with dignity; he is clothed in robes and headdress that convey his status as a leader. When War Eagle and his delegation appear at the General's Sterling's door, the African American butler (played by a white actor in blackface) displays all the characteristics of both the compliant "tom" and the comic "coon" (Bogle 17). War Eagle's knock at the door arouses the butler from his daytime slumber. As soon as the butler sees the Native American delegation the tom/coon figure throws up his hands and runs back into the house in comic panic. The dignity and manliness of War Eagle is in marked contrast to the representation of the film's African American character.

During the silent era and for years after, Australian filmmakers did not see Native Americans as appropriate models for cinematic images of Indigenous Australians because the latter were not understood to have posed an obstacle to the creation in Australia of "a home for a white people." Australian film trade papers from the period and their responses to just a few of the American films released in Australia after World War I provide clear evidence that, despite the popularity of the American Western featuring Native Americans as fierce warriors, filmmakers from the two countries were drawing clear differences between cinematic Indians and Australian Aborigines. In one of the main Australian trade papers from the early 1920s, The Picture Show, an advertisement for an imported American serial called Winners of the West, released by Universal in 1921, claims that the series is based on "Captain Fremont's famous trail breaking expedition" and is "suitable for the school-room." Native Americans are the stereotypical predatory menace; the advertising copy describes them as "red devils" (68). The Australian trade journal The Exhibitor reprinted an article about Paramount's The Covered Wagon (1923) that applauds the film for its ability to teach Americans about their history and about "how her early settlers went forth to possess the land" (6). The review goes on to lament the fact that unlike the United States or the British in South Africa, Australia has no equivalent to the "armies of Red Indians or Zulus in her history" (6). According to the reviewer a similar Australian epic would need to focus on the pioneer's battle with "nature's forces gripped and conquered" and "the days of the gold-fields" (6).

Depiction of Indigenous Australian characters in subservient roles, providing support for newcomers amounted to an argument for the legitimacy of the supplanting society and its dispossession of aboriginal land (Day 9). As a result the cinematic tracker/guides became part of Australia's settler and foundation myths at the heart of a non-indigenous history of peaceful settlement. This mode of representation emerged as a consequence of a series of particularly, but not uniquely, Australian circumstances. The tracker specifically and the cinematic depiction of Indigenous Australians generally was and is part of what Richard Dyer described as the cultural construction of white people by white people. One way, according to Dyer, of doing this is to allow whites individuality, diversity, and complexity while reducing other races to the level of the stereotype (Dyer xiii).

"Southern Films" and Australia

The particular cinematic constructions of whiteness evident in the contrasting depiction of Indigenous characters found in Australian silent films mirrors some of the approaches to whiteness employed by American filmmakers, especially in films about the South and the slave plantation. The Australian representation of Indigenous Australians as loyal tracker/guides and the loyal plantation slave in the South are both constructs that preserve mythic versions of Australian and US history. David Blight makes the point that around the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War "American theatres were saturated with Civil War films"; there were ninety-eight such films made in 1913 alone. According to Blight the plots of these films were "full of nostalgia" (394) and plantation slaves were portrayed as happy and contented, often fighting to save the plantation and preserve the old Southern way of life. Peter Noble suggests that African Americans were represented in one of two ways during the silent era: films either "poked fun at the black man" or "portrayed him as the devoted slave who 'knows his place'" (Noble 29). This late nineteenth and early twentieth century version of the Southern plantation, where slaves worked happily for white masters, meshed more closely with Australia's sense of "racial hierarchy." In Australia, squatters were large landholders and, like the large plantation owners of the Old South, a kind of aristocracy, referred to as the squattocracy. In contrast to Western folklore and film, in which the pioneer wagon train and the isolated homestead were often under attack from marauding Native Americans, the Australian myth of peaceful settlement precluded the notion of a violent frontier and the image of the Southern plantation resonated in Australian films in a way that the Western frontier did not. For example, The Squatter's Son (1911) combines the good black and the outback homestead-as-plantation motif.

Between 1913 and 1916, issues of the trade paper Australian Variety revealed the popularity of visiting African American stage performers. The cover of an issue from March 1914 featured "Josephine Grassman and her Piccaninnies scoring a big hit." References to the popularity of performers in "black-face" and "coloured performers" were common. A specific example of the influence of the American stage comes in The Octoroon (1912), produced by the Australian Film Syndicate and based on Dion Boucicault's 1861 anti-slavery stage play of the same name. The film was made in the Sydney beachside suburb of Narrabeen, yet set in the American South. Telling the story of race, slavery, and mixed blood, the plot centers on the plight of a young octoroon woman (Pike and Cooper 32). The identifiable influence of Southern stories and characters at such an early stage in the history of Australian film is hard to ignore. The Octoroonis especially notable because it deals with questions of race and blood, issues that were important and enduring social and historical preoccupations of the young Australian nation, as they continued to be for the United States. The birth of Australia as a unified nation dates from Federation in 1901, when the separate self-governing colonies that now comprise Australian states agreed to unify. The first Act passed by the new Australian Parliament was to legislate for a White Australia policy. Ideas of race were therefore at the heart of the creation of the nation, a sentiment reflected in the 1928 silent film The Birth of White Australia. It is difficult, however, to understand the issues associated with race and ethnic representation as they relate to Indigenous Australia without considering just how much Australia identified with the South.

Filming White Supremacy: The Birth of a Nation (1915) and The Birth of White Australia (1928)

In the decades immediately before and during the formative years of the Australian film industry, "the popularity of the minstrel show in Australia reflected a widespread colonial preoccupation with and esteem for things American" (Pike and Cooper 112). Richard Waterhouse has highlighted the impact on Australia of African American images exported from the United States via nineteenth century minstrel shows. The minstrel show's nostalgic rendering of the "pastoral paradise" that was "the lost world of the slave plantation" resonated because it struck "local cords" in aspects of the "nostalgic image of Aborigines" and renderings of the Australian outback homestead (Minstrel 103). The strength of the minstrel show's influence is evident in the fact that beginning in the 1840s the "terms 'nigger' and 'coon' became commonplace expressions in Australia" and they were "adapted by colonial Australians to apply to Australian Aborigines" (Minstrel 100).

A comparison of D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation and the Australian silent film The Birth of White Australia (1928) establishes the impact and potency of the cinematic South and its ideas of race on Australia. The Birth of White Australia has been likened to The Birth of a Nation and described as a "panoramic view of Australian racial history" (Pike and Cooper 146). The parallels between the two films do not amount to a perfect fit and the Australian film was by no means simply a copy, but the racist mindset and the aspirations of both films are too much alike to ignore. Both made claims to historical veracity. Griffith's film depicted the trauma of Reconstruction and the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan while Walsh's depicted European settlement and the racially motivated anti-Chinese violence that erupted on the Australian gold fields at Lambing Flat in 1861.

As its name implies, The Birth of White Australia, like The Birth of a Nation, is the cinematic celebration of white supremacist nationhood. Both films are explicit in their arguments about race. One of the earliest intertitles in The Birth of a Nation proclaims "The bringing of the African to America planted the first seed of disunion." In the scenes that follow, African Americans are depicted as passive and submissive. The slaves stand before an auctioneer without signs of fear, resentment, or resistance. They are the passive objects of the white man's initiative. A subsequent scene depicts African Americans, generations later, at an Abolitionist meeting where they continue to be portrayed as docile objects of the white man's now very different initiative.

The Birth of White Australia intertitles declare at both the beginning and the end of the film that Australian nationhood is white. An intertitle declaring that "Australia stands for a White Australia" defied the historical reality that Australia has a black Indigenous population. The version of Australian history taught, as well as the films made, for most of the twentieth century coped with the contradiction evident in the idea of white Australia with a black Indigenous population by ignoring the challenges that the original owners posed to the arrival of the whites and by relegating Indigenous Australians to the status of passive and compliant "fellow travellers" in the historical journey of nation building. The result was that in the earliest stages of contact with the Europeans, Indigenous Australians were depicted as simple primitives, like the slaves first brought to America in The Birth of a Nation.

In The Birth of White Australia the outback homestead is not under siege or endangered in the same way that a Western frontier homestead might be threatened by Native Americans. Instead the outback homestead in The Birth of White Australia is more like the Southern plantation, where Indigenous Australians live to serve white masters. One of the film's intertitles proclaims the nature of the relationship between the white boss and the Aborigines: "They gave him love and trust and builded him a home." The explicit message of the intertitle is reinforced by images of Indigenous Australians sitting around the white homestead and working on the white man's behalf. The Birth of White Australia runs for almost an hour and a half, but the Indigenous Australians are dismissed after the first thirty-seven minutes. In that time they have been given their allotted place in Australian race mythology, a place and status akin to that of the passive plantation slave. Yet there is a point at which these filmic depictions of Indigenous Australians and African Americans diverge. Griffith creates, in his representation of the Cameron plantation in Piedmont, the Southern ideal. Before the Civil War the mise en scene that defines the Camerons' world as one of harmony, good humor, peace and order, parallels the last image of the relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australia evident in The Birth of White Australia. Yet when the Civil War destroys the old South in The Birth of a Nation, the once unfettered potential brutality of the African American emerges.


In The Birth of White Australia the cinematic symbol of racial menace is the Chinese who come to Australia during the gold rushes that begin in the 1850s. Among the most compelling and confrontational scenes in Griffith's film are those in which white women are depicted as at risk from black male sexual predators. Griffith uses violence against women to synthesize and symbolize the evils of Reconstruction and to justify the climactic ride of the Klan. In The Birth of White Australia, it is the Chinese who are depicted as posing a sexual threat to white womanhood: when a white woman is stalked by one of the Chinese, a fall from her horse renders her unconscious, and the nameless Asian moves towards her with an expression of lust. She is saved only by the intervention of one of the white miners. The Chinese threat to white womanhood is then used to justify a cinematic celebration of violent vigilante action by the white miners as they drive the Chinese from the gold fields, thereby purifying the white Australian nation. Australian history now looks back at the Lambing Flat Riot depicted in The Birth of White Australia in much the same way that American history records the story of the Klan. Both are seen in the twenty-first century for what they were: manifestations of white supremacist racism.

Australia Goes Hollywood: Trooper O'Brien (1928)

In the Australian silent film Trooper O'Brien (released the same year as The Birth of White Australia), we see the influence of Hollywood and the African American characterizations found in the Southern plantation genre that Donald Bogle identified as the "Coon" and "Mammie." John Gavin was a pioneer journeyman of the Australian film industry. He variously acted in, directed, and produced Australian films that were part of the Bushranger genre, which equated Indigenous Australians with nature as the exotic "other." In 1910 and 1911 three of Gavin's films--Thunderbolt (1910), Moonlite (1910) and Assigned to his Wife (1911)--all included minor Indigenous characters. They were always played by white actors in blackface, but the characterizations are significant in terms of the contrast that they offer with the images Gavin created in the later Trooper O'Brien. That film premiered in Sydney in May 1928 at the Australian Picture Palace. It did very well with the general public despite less than glowing press reviews (Pike and Cooper 143). The Gavins, John and his wife Agnes, having just returned from Hollywood, were the driving creative forces behind the film. Upon their return to Australia, the Gavins appeared to revert to what they knew best: they made a bushranger film. They avoided objections from the authorities to films about outlaws by dedicating Trooper O'Brien, in an intertitle, to "that noble, yet silent body of men--the Police". Nevertheless the film did include two lengthy action sequences appropriated from older bushranger films, The Kelly Gang and Robbery Under Arms (Pike and Cooper 143). The film is a vivid amalgam of Australian and Southern influences.

In the opening scenes the young Glenn O'Brien (Jimmy Mahon) and his boyhood Indigenous friend Moori (Reg Quartley) live a Huck Finn rural life style. Jimmy Mahon, the young actor who plays Glenn, is taller than his "pal." Glenn's clothes are simple, but they fit. By contrast Moori's clothes are over-sized and ill-fitting. The boys come across a horse broken free from its harness. As it turns out there has been a carriage accident. A quick cut and in the next scene Moori leads young Glen and his father, a police sergeant (John Gavin), as he follows the tracks. In a lengthy sequence the two whites simply follow Moori. They find a young girl--Winnie Brown, played as a child by Betty Taylor--who is the sole survivor of the carriage accident. Glenn immediately assumes the dominant role. First to reach the child, he picks up the white infant while Moori stands back, resuming his subservient role.



They take the little girl back to the O'Brien home; throughout the journey Moori is in the background and a step or two behind. Once inside the house, Moori immediately sits on the floor. As the plot of the film unfolds, the young Moori in his role as a tracker will be contrasted against the adult Moori. As an adult O'Brien (Gordon Collingridge) becomes a policeman and leaves for the city. The adult Moori (Will Harris in blackface) conforms to the familiar Southern image of the obedient and loyal black. Moori makes a comic last minute dash to catch the train as he follows his friend. The adult white has by now come to conform to the image of a Southern master. In the urban setting Moori is clearly the comic black, reminiscent of the African American coon. The contrast is interpreted by the film as the Indigenous figure at home in the bush, but completely out of his element and in need of paternalistic protection in the city. In other words Moori was comfortable in the natural pre-modern world, but an alien in the modern world. This harks back to the amalgam of generations of nonindigenous thinking, based on Australian settler myths and Southern images of black simplicity and loyalty.


In one scene when the pair is newly arrived in the big city, Moori's color and obvious foolishness make him a target. About to be conned by a local crook, Moori is saved only by O'Brien's intervention and protection. In an intertitle O'Brien tells Moori that he will have to be looked after. The scene ends as the white man gestures to his bag and Moori obediently picks it up and follows as they exit. In demeanour and actions Moori's character resembles what Bogle identified as the stereotypical characterization of "the Coon ... the Negro as amusement object and black buffoon" (Bogle 7).

Later in the film, Moori becomes bored with life in the city and seeks out companionship with his own kind. The scene was filmed in what appears to be La Perouse, one of the well-known Aboriginal residential suburbs of Sydney. Moori's eye falls on a plump Indigenous woman (Violet Elliot) played in blackface. She is described in an intertitle as "The budgeree flapper." "Budgeree" is an Indigenous term for "good" or "special." Even in the language of the intertitle, the amalgam of Australian and American influences is evident. In appearance and manner the Budgeree flapper corresponds to the type identified by Donald Bogle as the "Mammy"; she is "closely related to the comic coons" and is usually "relegated to their ranks" (9). In his attempts to court the Budgeree flapper Moori sits on top of a fence to flirt with and admire her as she hangs out the washing, but true to the comic coon type, he falls and is made to look foolish.


It is no coincidence that these Southern characterizations or stereotypical masks appeared in John Gavin's films after his time in the United States. They provide a contrast with the modes of Indigenous characterization evident in his earlier pre-Hollywood days. Matilda found in Dixie a compatible dance partner. Australian nationalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries identified with the construction of whiteness evident in the nostalgic idea of the South. Filmic images of the American South, rather than of the American West, and depictions of African Americans, rather than of Native Americans, had a clear relevance for Australian ideas of race and for the place of Indigenous Australians in the national story.

Works Cited

Assigned to his Wife. Dir. J. F. Gavin. John F. Gavin Productions, 1911.

The Assigned Servant. Dir. J. F. Gavin. Crick and Finlay, 1911.

Australian Variety published by Martin C Brennan 25 March 1914, 2-4.

The Battle at Elderbush Gulch. Dir. D. W. Griffith. Biograph, 1913.

The Birth of a Nation. Dir. D. W. Griffith. D. W. Griffith Corp., 1915.

The Birth of White Australia. Dir. Phil. K. Walsh. Dominion Films, 1928.

Blight, David W. Race and Reunion." The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge: Belknap, 2002.

Bogle, Donald. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks: An Interpretative History of Blacks in American Films. New York: Continuum, 2003.

The Bondage of the Bush. Dir. Charles Woods. Woods' Australian Films. 1913.

Captain Starlight. Dir. Alfred Rolfe. Spencers' Pictures, 1910.

Collins, Diane. Hollywood Down Under Australians At the Movies: 1896 to the Present Day. North Ryde: Angus & Robertson, 1987.

Cooee and the Echo. Dir. Alfred Rolfe. Australian Photo-Play Co., 1912.

The Covered Wagon. Dir. James Cruze. Paramount, 1923.

Crilly, Shane. "Reading Aboriginalities in Australian Cinema: from Jedda to Dead Heart." Screen Education 26/27 (Winter 2001): 36-38.

Day, David. Conquest." A New History of the World Sydney: Harper Collins, 2005.

Dyer, Richard. White. London: Routledge, 1999.

The Exhibitor. 1.6 (November 28, 1923) State Library of NSW: 6.

The Gentleman Bushranger. Dir. Beaumont Smith. Beaumont Smith Productions, 1921.

Guerrero, Ed. Framing Blackness." The African American Image in Film. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1993.

Hale, Grace Elizabeth. Making Whiteness." The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940. New York: Vintage, 1999.

The Indian. Klaw & Erlanger, 1914. Paper Print Collection US Library of Congress.

The Kelly Gang. Dir. Harry Southwell. Southwell Screenplays, 1920.

Krausz, Peter. "Screening Indigenous Australia: An Overview of Aboriginal Representation on Film." Australian Screen Education (Spring 2003): 90-96.

The Massacre. Dir. D. W. Griffith. Biograph, 1912.

Maynard, Shane. "Black (and White) Images: Aborigines in Film." The Australian Screen. Ed. A. Moran and T. O'Regan. Ringwood, 1989: 216-35.

Molloy, Bruce. Before the Interval." Australian Mythology and Feature Films 1930-1960. St. Lucia: Queensland UP, 1990.

Moonlite. Dir. J. F. Gavin. Southern Cross Motion Pictures, 1910.

Moorehead, Alan. Cooper's Creek. London: New English Library, 1971.

Moran, Albert, and Tom O'Regan, eds. The Australian Screen. Ringwood: Penguin, 1989. Murgatroyd, Sara. The Dig Tree: The Story of Burke and Wills. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2002.

Noble, Peter. The Negro in Films. Port Washington: Kennikat, 1948.

The Octoroon. Dir. George Young. Australian Film Syndicate, 1912.

Peters-Little, Francis. "Nobles and Savages on the Television." Aboriginal History 27 (2003): 16-31.

The Picture Show. State Library of NSW. (February 1, 1922): 68.

Pike, Andrew. "Aboriginals in Australian Feature Films." Meanjin 36. 4 (December 1977): 591-96.

Pike, Andrew, and Ross Cooper. Australian Film: 1900-1977|: A Guide to Feature Film Production. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1998.

Reade, Eric. Australian Silent Films. Melbourne: Lansdowne, 1970.

Reynolds, Henry. Frontier. St. Leonards: Alien & Unwin, 1996.

Robbery Under Arms. Dir. Charles MacMahon. MacMahon's Exquisite Pictures, 1907.

Robbery Under Arms. Dir. Kenneth Brampton. Pacific Photo Plays, 1920.

Simmon, Scot. The Invention of the Western Film." A Cultural History of the Genre's First Half Century. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

The Squatter's Son. Dir. E. J. Cole. Pathe Freres, 1911.

Thunderbolt. Dir. J. F. Gavin. Southern Cross Motion Pictures, 1910.

Trooper O'Brien. Dir. J. F. Gavin. British Dominion Films, 1928.

Waterhouse, Richard. From Minstrel Show to Vaudeville: The Popular Australian Stage, 1788-1914. Kensington: U of NSW P, 1990.

--. The Vision Splendid: A Social and Cultural History of Rural Australia. North Fremantle: Curtin U Books, 2005. Winners of the West. Dir. Edward Laemmie. Universal, 1921.


Macquarie University

(1) The influence and cultural exchange between Australia and the US was not limited to the importation of films. There is a long list of actors, writers, and directors involved in the production of Australian silent films who had worked in Hollywood. Directors and producers like John Gavin, Wilfred Lucas, Lawson Harris, Yvonne Pavis, Norman Dawn, F. Stuart-Whyte, William Reed, Scott W. Dunlap, Wilton Welch, and Charles Chauvel were all either Americans or Australians who had worked in the Hollywood film factory. Then there were performers such as Arthur Shirley, Louise Lovely, George Fisher, Brownie Vernon, Kathleen Key, Eva Novak, Arthur McLaglen (brother of the famous Victor McLaglen) and Edith Roberts. They all added something to the texture, technique, imagery and style of Australia's silent films (Reade).

(2) Robert Burke and William Wills perished in an attempt to cross Central Australia from south to north in 1861 (Moorehead). Their story was made into two feature films, the first in 1918 and the second in 1985 (Pike and Cooper).

(3) In Australia, Bushrangers were outlaws. They were sometimes wrongfully accused convicts, who in folklore became "Robin Hood like" characters.
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Author:Dennett, Bruce
Publication:The Mississippi Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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