Producer-director Beaumont Smith had first given his rural hick family, the Hayseeds, an outing in Our Friends, the Hayseeds as a silent film in 1917, and first worked the 'rural hicks head to the city' riff in The Hayseeds Come to Sydney the same year. 

It was a shameless enough rip of the comedy routines in Steele Rudd's Dad and Dave On our Selection books. This talkie sequel is an equally shameless attempt to trade off on the box office success of Ken Hall's 1932 talkie adaptation of Rudd's On our Selection.

In this outing, the Hayseed family (headed by Dad Hayseed Cecil Kellaway and Mum Hayseed Katie Towers) invites town girl Mary Townleigh (Shirley Dale) to stay at the family home after she hurts her ankle hiking in the bush.

She forms a friendship with mysterious prospector John Manners (Arthur Clarke). As thanks, the Townleigh family invites the Hayseeds and John to visit them in Sydney. Joe Hayseed (Tal Ordell) and his girlfriend Pansy Regan (Molly Raynor) think about getting hitched and honeymooning in the big smoke, but the holiday is disrupted when John is accused of being a runaway criminal.

Happily, it turns out that as well as being innocent - he's taken the rap for another - he's a filthy rich member of the landed gentry, so he and Mary sail off to England to get hitched and enjoy life on John's wealthy family estate …

 In the meantime, the Hayseeds manage to act like hayseeds in George street and other parts of the city of Sydney. To ensure value for money, there's also opening and closing song and dance numbers, with comely dancers performing routines that could either be called an homage to, or a rip off of, Busby Berkeley.

While in this last outing the Hayseeds come to town and in particular come to Sydney, the film should not be confused with the title for Beaumont Smith's 1917 silent movie The Hayseeds Come to Sydney, which carried the alternate title The Hayseeds Come to Town.

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Production Details

Production company: J. C. Williamson Picture Productions

Budget: £4,500 (other estimates suggest under £6,000)

Locations: Cinesound studios, Rushcutters Bay, in and about Sydney, with a number of nearby bush locations, Pymble, for example, for the hiking song and dance number.

Filmed: shooting began August 1933, with a seven week shoot.

Australian distributor: B.E.F.

Australian release:  8th December 1933, Civic Theatre Sydney, which at the time had begun promoting itself as the home for Australian cinema in the city.

Rating: For general exhibition

35mm   black and white

Running time: 98 mins (Oxford Australian Film)

ScreenSound VHS time: 1'24"44

Box office:

The film did solid business, running into January after its early December 1933 release at the Civic in Sydney, and thereafter doing solid Christmas holidays business at other locations, enough to make "an easy profit over its low cost". (Oxford Australian Film).

In an advertisement for a share raising of £50,000 for Raymond Longford's new film company Mastrercraft Film Corporation (SMH 16th April 1935) - which also claimed Longford was the producer of The Hayseeds - the domestic box office was estimated at some £20,000.

While the mix of patriotism and farce worked well enough for a local audience - Australian audiences have always shown a taste for rustic and bogan comedy - the film didn't travel well internationally.


Opinion

Awards

None known.

Availability

The NFSA, in the days when it was dubbed ScreenSound, released the film on VHS, and though rare, copies might be found within the Australian library system. The archive can also be approached for a copy.

Copies derived from the VHS source can also be found circulating on DVD amongst collectors, with the quality of the image depending on the quality of the source material used.

The ASO has three clips from the film here, but hardened Ozmovie cultists know that this is just a stop-gap taster, and at some point, they'll have to go the full rustic.

The film is no classic, but it is essential viewing for students of the "rustic comedy" genre, with bucolic clowns and bonus Australiania, that dominated the 1930s in Australia feature film-making.

1. Source:

Beaumont Smith produced some seven Hayseeds shows, starting in 1917 with Our Friends, the Hayseeds, which was a strong commercial hit, and which owed more than a little to other successful stage shows about hicks from the sticks, including On Our Selection, and The Waybacks.

Beaumont Smith knew these sources well, having first been involved in helping turn On Our Selection into a play.

"One take Beau" became the most commercially successful silent film producer in Australia, and the ADB has a more detailed biography here.

He followed the first hit quickly with 1917's The Hayseeds Come to Sydney, and then The Hayseeds' Back-blocks Show the same year,  then in 1918 The Hayseeds' Melbourne Cup.

The family was revived in 1923 with Townies and Hayseeds, quickly followed by Prehistoric Hayseeds the same year, before bringing the family back one last time as a talkie in The Hayseeds.

(Below: Beaumont Smith) 

2. Production:

Beaumont Smith fancied himself as a quick shooter. Publicity for the film pointedly contrasted his short shooting schedule of seven weeks, with the eighteen weeks Ken Hall had spent on The Squatter's Daughter.

Beaumont Smith spent only a month post-producing the film before getting it out into the Civic Theatre in Sydney for its premiere.

He managed to do a considerable amount of location shooting while juggling availabilities of cast, and speed was required because the three principals - Cecil Kellaway, John Moore and Shirley Dale - were in the hit musical Music in the Air, and were required to go to Melbourne.

Beaumont Smith featured the entire chorus of Music in the Air in the Pymble song and dance sequence featuring a host of young women as dancing bush walkers. The three leads were cast for their singing abilities, with John Moore singing F. Morton-Chapple's musical number Tramp to Happiness. Morton-Chapple also wrote the number I've Answered Your Call of Love.

It was Cecil Kellaway's first role in a feature film, and he too was signed because of his voice, and his successful musical comedy career, though as "Dad" Kellaway, he lacked the natural fit of a Bert Bailey doing a Steele Rudd "Dad". Kellaway would have greater success in later, more sophisticated roles, and would move on to an international career. 

Kellaway's eight year old son Bryan also made his debut playing eight year old Billy Hayseed

Beaumont Smith acknowledged that the inspiration for the ballet sequences, filmed from above, with the dancers appearing in striking patterns, was American productions such as 42nd Street and The Kid from Spain.

Richard White, who ran a dance academy in Sydney, provided the choreography.

3. Director:

Some sources claim that there remains some concern as to who directed the film. Beaumont Smith in the Sydney Morning Herald of 22nd July 1933 is quoted as saying that Raymond Longford would direct the film, but in the credits on the finished film, Beaumont Smith is credited as writer, supervisor and director, with Raymond Longford as the associate director.

As the ADB points out, while Raymond Longford might have been creatively more imaginative, Beaumont Smith was a better deal maker, with film distribution managers amongst his closest friends.

The Hayseeds franchise had long belonged to Beaumont Smith, and there was little point being too generous in relation to possessory credits, when there were deals to be made and franchises to protect, even if this would turn out to be the last cinema outing for the Hayseed family.

However the talkies didn't suit Beaumont Smith as well as the silents had, and he would direct only one more feature, Splendid Fellows.