About this site:
This site is a beta work in progress. At the moment it covers only the early years of Australian talkies. It is intended as a general guide to the era of VHS and DVD published Australian films, now drawing to a close. It has been developed for the purposes of study, review and information. More movies will be added as we get around to it.
a. Any research still starts with The Oxford Australian Film 1900-1977, by Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, published 1980 and revised 1998. It is still the first reference point and remains a remarkable feat of scholarship. "Oxford" indicates a reference to this work. Other works, for example by film historian Eric Reade, have also been referenced.
b. The resources of the library system of Australia, and in particular the National Library of Australia, which has released a Trove of information online.
c. The published resources of the National Film and Sound Archive (previously ScreenSound).
d. The wikis for the films and related individuals, which are generally more accurate and reliable than the IMDB. Individual film wikis can be googled by using the name of the film.
e. The online Australian Dictionary of Biography, which contains valuable biographies of a number (somewhat limited) of key industry participants.
f. Where available, the films themselves. Where not available, the Oxford, Cinema Papers, and wikis have been preferred to the IMDB, which contains much flawed data. If you have access to a film not listed on the site, please let the administrator know.
g. Collectors and dealers in Australian films, posters, books and other related material. Thanks to those who've directly assisted with information and works.
This site is not a wiki and does not generally provide detailed footnotes in relation to sources. Information is as accurate as it can be in relation to an industry notorious for carelessness and disinterest in the facts, when an exaggeration or a tall tale might better suit the pitch.
Nonetheless, errors are inevitable, and if you see an error, please advise the site administrator.
Ozmovies only claims copyright in relation to its original content and the site format. All other material is copyright to the original holders of copyright. Much of the material herein has previously been published, and it is published or re-published here for the fair use purposes of education, review, information and study. If you have a concern in relation to such usage, please contact the administrator on the form provided.
Because VHS is no longer commercially available, VHS covers are published in full as the best available description of the VHS release. DVD covers are broken up, as is done by commercial sellers, because DVD remains for the moment a commercial format.
This site does not support misuse of intellectual property rights, and accordingly restricts itself to material either commercially available or no longer in general circulation. Because of its historical emphasis, it does not reference the availability of material on the internet.
3. Wombat moments:
It's a truism that Australian films reflect Australia. Nobody gives a second thought about a film set in New York opening with images of New York, yet some people are reluctant to acknowledge the way Australian films have celebrated Australia. In one pitch session, this writer can recall an Australian sales agent completely uninterested in a film which opened on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Others aren't so narrow-minded, and understand the reason director Brian Trenchard-Smith went to Ayers Rock (now Uluru) for a set piece for The Man from Hong Kong (an option no longer available to film-makers in search of the iconic).
Some of the images culled from the films present amusing, exotic, imaginative or unpredictable ideas of the country, its people, its landscape, and its flora and fauna. These are not meant to be simply ironic or a satirical commentary on the visual interests of previous generations of film-makers, but is more a way to continue the iconic celebrations.
4. The downunder club:
This isn't a haven for the sex-obsessed but rather a look at some of the images of sex and sexuality, male and female, presented in Australian films - actors and actresses, dance routines, mating rituals and so on.
It naturally undergoes a change in the late 1960s, as the winds of change blew into Australia from elsewhere, with Michael Powell's Age of Consent the first significant example of nudity, but it would be unfair to ignore the limit-pushing visuals of Ken G. Hall and Charles Chauvel in the 1930s and 1940s.
Hall, for example, was amongst the first to celebrate an "effeminate" character, and use fashion to sell, while Chauvel loved nude swimming hole scenes, and the downunder club hopefully provides pointers to those writing their thesis on representations of sexuality in Australian cinema.
Other sites celebrate the watching of feature films as three minute clips, perhaps broken up on YouTube.
This site believes the best way to appreciate and understand drama, and feature films in particular, is to watch the film from 'go' to 'whoa', on the principle that most films have a beginning, a middle and an end. Some films are no longer available, but a surprising number are, even if mutilated or truncated, and we indicate which ones we've found for the site.
The site originally began with the idea of tracking Australian feature film releases and their availability on disc or tape via the marketplace (some collectors will accept VHS quality even now if there's no alternative).
Inevitably much of this material has shifted online - VHS is dead, DVD is dying, and as online streaming relies on better codecs Blu-ray is likely to remain a niche format, especially for older Australian films.
Oz Films doesn't encourage misuse of intellectual property rights and generally doesn't link to such sources for films, but is aware of the changes in viewing habits. Hopefully in the future more old Australian films will be made available for streaming in complete form.
Where possible we have provided covers as a reference for the source of the movie data. We show VHS covers in full because there is now no longer commercial loss involved for a format which is only available second hand, but we only show segmented DVD covers because discs continue to be retailed.
As noted, we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible, but data in relation to Australian films is notoriously inaccurate, and where possible, this is indicated.
All Australian producers lie, and some lie more than others. Most figures are just best guesses, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Breakages and overages (and even underages) are common in relation to feature film budgets. Figures are ballpark, and the look and cast and scale of a film will often give just as good an indication as to whether it's micro, low, medium or high budget.
b. Box office:
All Australian producers lie, some more than others, and data collection in Australia in relation to box office has been and still is erratic and often in error (the black book and cash in the paw ticketing was also routine for exhibitors in the old days).
A footnote to a bad bit of data doesn't make the data correct. Additionally, net profit is distinct from box office gross, and very few Australian films go into net profit. At the moment, after distribution and exhibition expenses are taken off the top, a five million dollar domestic box office figure might see less than a million in the hands of the (usually government) investors, and even less in the hands of the producers/creative team.
If pre-sales against key territories or distribution guarantees were rolled into the budget, any returns get reduced even more. At one point, the federal government investment body, the FFC, which was active from the early nineteen nineties until it was folded into Screen Australia in 2008, could count on a handful of fingers and a few toes the films that had moved into net profit … from investments in hundreds of feature films.
The golden rule - 'there will be no net profit' - generally applies these days, though there are a few honourable exceptions each year, and the rule didn't necessarily apply to early pioneers like Ken G. Hall.
Where prints of the films are available, we have provided an exact record in pdf of the credits that appear at the head and tail of that copy (where a print is unavailable, we have used sources such as the Oxford and Cinema Papers in preference to the flawed data on IMDB).
To anyone accustomed to reading credits properly, these tell the story of who was up whom, who got dissed, who was the powerless nominal associate producer sent to the tail credits, which star got first billing, which second and third, who had an agent who could score a 'featured' or 'introducing' credit, and which writer, director or producer had the necessary clout to claim a possessory credit.
It also helps serve as a correction to other credit lists. IMDB credits, for example, as a result of being open to amendment by various interested parties over the years, include many doubtful credits. At Ozmovies the emphasis is on who was given an actual credit in the film's actual titles. It is a fact, for example, to cite one of hundreds of examples, that Joe Toppe was not a writer on the Australian feature film Fever, as credited in IMDB. And lately many films are listed in IMDB as part-Australian when they have had virtually nothing to do with production in Australia, but have been part-financed by companies such as Roadshow.
Most lengths are best guesses. Many transfers of 24 fps 16 or 35mm films to 25 fps tape involves a 4% differential. Then there's the different versions for domestic and international markets, censorship, etc. All this site can do is measure the tape and disc versions to hand (DVDs were also often sourced from 25 fps tapes), sometimes comparing them to other available timings, and noting other timings, as in the Oxford and Cinema Papers.
e. Censorship ratings:
For many years Australian film ratings were a free form mess, varying from cinema to television to tape. Where possible we cite the original feature film rating. Films with M and R ratings may have associated still images available on the site, and parents should take precautions they deem appropriate in relation to their children.
7. The Wrap:
Like the Oxford, this site is generalist, and designed, where possible, to evoke the films that have come to hand, while remembering that film records are rarely accurate, and usually clouded with theatricality, exaggeration, inflation and distortions of the truth, if only through the flux of time and memory. Because film-makers, crew and cast, are inveterate, shameless story-tellers and the makers-up of stories. And nothing wrong with that.
If you find an error, please let us know. We value accuracy in relation to facts, and we enjoy opinions in relation to Australian films, as well as a little bit of chook raffle, wombat moment and magic pudding fun. Australian films might not always be masterpieces, but in their own way they hold up a mirror to the country and its people, and if you can't always have fun with the movie, you can often have fun with the mirror.