Smiley (1956 film)

Last updated

Directed by Anthony Kimmins
Written byAnthony Kimmins
Moore Raymond
Based onSmiley
1945 novel
by Moore Raymond [1]
Produced byAnthony Kimmins
Starring Ralph Richardson
Chips Rafferty
Colin Petersen
Cinematography Edward Scaife
Music by William Alwyn
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 28 June 1956 (1956-06-28)(London)
  • June 12, 1957 (1957-06-12)(United States)
Running time
97 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget£250,000 [2] [3]

Smiley is a 1957 CinemaScope produced comedy film. It tells the story of a young Australian boy who is determined to buy a bicycle for four pounds. Along the way he gets into many misadventures. It was based on the 1945 novel of the same name by Moore Raymond who also co-wrote the film with Anthony Kimmins. Their screenplay received a Best British Screenplay nomination at the BAFTA awards. [4]



Smiley (Colin Petersen) is a mischievous boy who lives in the small country town of Murrumbilla (based on Augathella [5] [6] ). His father is an alcoholic drover who is a poor provider for the family, his mother works as a laundress to make ends meet. Smiley is always getting into trouble with his best friend Joey (Bruce Archer). He decides to try to save up enough money to buy a coveted bicycle.

Smiley takes on various odd jobs, showing enterprise, hard work, and persistence in slowly accumulating the considerable sum (four pound) needed, despite getting involved in a number of pranks, including getting into trouble with the local law enforcement in the figure of Sergeant Flaxman (Chips Rafferty). Smiley unwittingly helps the local publican, Jim Rankin (John McCallum), sell opium to aborigines who live in a camp near the town.

Smiley's father steals his savings and loses it playing two-up. Smiley accidentally knocks him out and runs away to the bush, where he is bitten by a snake. His life is saved by a boundary rider, Bill McVitty (Guy Doleman). Rankin is arrested and the townspeople chip in to buy Smiley a bike. [7]

A romantic subplot involves Rankin and Sergeant Flaxman vying for the affections of Miss Workman the new local schoolmistress (Jocelyn Hernfield).



The film is based on the popular 1945 novel Smiley by Moore Raymond, who was born in Queensland but worked as a journalist in Britain. The book was hailed as an Australian Huckleberry Finn [8] and film rights were bought immediately by Sir Alexander Korda. [9] Korda sent Raymond to Australia in 1946 to find a possible child actors and locations over three months. [10] [11] However Korda said he could not find an appropriate director and shelved the project. [12]

Korda eventually assigned the project to Anthony Kimmins, who had served in Australia in World War II. Kimmins arrived in Australia in March 1950 to begin preproduction [13] and announced he would make the film near Augathella for £100,000. [5] However, after actually inspecting the site he doubted it would be useful and he was unable to find a lead actor he was happy with. [14] Plans to make the movie were delayed again.

Kimmins returned to Australia September 1955 to begin preproduction. [15] After interviewing over 2,000 boys, he cast Colin Peterson as Smiley and Bruce Archer as Joey. Part of the budget was provided by 20th Century Fox, who had money frozen in Australia due to currency restrictions. Apart from Ralph Richardson, the entire cast was Australian. [2]

Filming started in late October, with the township of Murrumbilla being created on an estate at Camden Park and Gundy NSW, and finished eight weeks later. Post production work was done at Pagewood Studios. [2]


The film was very popular and led to a sequel, Smiley Gets a Gun . It also spawned a hit single, 'A Little Boy Called Smiley', composed by Clyde Collins after the film was completed.

Colin Petersen moved to Britain and enjoyed a successful career as a child actor and musician, including being the drummer of The Bee Gees from 1967 to 1970.


The novel inspired Smiley The Musical with music by Clyde Collins, David Cocker, Mark Jones and Lance Strauss. The 2004 studio cast recording was performed by John Watson, Jason Barry-Smith, James King, Leisa Barry-Smith, Justine Anderson, Renae Bedford, Samantha Hardgrave, Gabriella Leibowitz, David Irvine, David Cocker, Darryl Weale and Simon Burvill-Holmes. [16]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Augathella</span> Town in Queensland, Australia

Augathella is a rural town and locality in the Shire of Murweh, Queensland, Australia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colin Thiele</span> Australian author

Colin Milton Thiele AC was an Australian author and educator. He was renowned for his award-winning children's fiction, most notably the novels Storm Boy, Blue Fin, the Sun on the Stubble series, and February Dragon. As Vice Principal and Principal of Wattle Park Teachers College and Principal of Murray Park CAE for much of the 1960s and 70s he had a significant impact on teacher education in South Australia.

<i>The Shiralee</i> (1957 film) 1957 British film

The Shiralee is a 1957 British film in the Australian Western genre. It was made by Ealing Studios, starring Peter Finch, directed by Leslie Norman and based on the 1955 novel by D'Arcy Niland. Although all exterior scenes were filmed in Sydney, Scone and Binnaway, New South Wales and Australian actors Charles Tingwell, Bill Kerr and Ed Devereaux played in supporting roles, the film is really a British film made in Australia, rather than an Australian film.

Ronald Grant Taylor was an English-Australian actor best known as the abrasive General Henderson in the Gerry Anderson science fiction series UFO and for his lead role in Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthony Kimmins</span> British film director (1901–1964)

Anthony Martin Kimmins, OBE was an English director, playwright, screenwriter, producer and actor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guy Doleman</span> New Zealand actor

Guy Doleman was a New Zealand born actor, active in Australia, Britain and the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">British Lion Films</span> Film production and distribution company

British Lion Films is a film production and distribution company active under several forms since 1919. Originally known as British Lion Film Corporation Ltd, it entered receivership on 1 June 1954. From 29 January 1955 to 1976, the company was known as British Lion Films Ltd, and was a pure distribution company.

<i>An Ideal Husband</i> (1947 film) 1947 British film

An Ideal Husband, also known as Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, is a 1947 British comedy film adaptation of the 1895 play by Oscar Wilde. It was made by London Film Productions and distributed by British Lion Films (UK) and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (USA). It was produced and directed by Alexander Korda from a screenplay by Lajos Bíró from Wilde's play. The music score was by Arthur Benjamin, the cinematography by Georges Périnal, the editing by Oswald Hafenrichter and the costume design by Cecil Beaton. This was Korda's last completed film as a director, although he continued producing films into the next decade.

<i>Long John Silver</i> (film) 1954 American film

Long John Silver, also known as Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island, is a 1954 American-Australian adventure film about the eponymous pirate Long John Silver, with Robert Newton repeating his starring role from Walt Disney's 1950 feature Treasure Island. Newton's billing in the opening credits states, "Robert Newton as Robert Louis Stevenson's immortal", followed by the title Long John Silver.

<i>Bonnie Prince Charlie</i> (1948 film) 1948 British biographical film

Bonnie Prince Charlie is a 1948 British historical film directed by Anthony Kimmins for London Films depicting the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and the role of Bonnie Prince Charlie within it. Filmed in Technicolor, it stars David Niven, Jack Hawkins, and Margaret Leighton.

<i>Mine Own Executioner</i> 1947 British psychological thriller drama film

Mine Own Executioner is a 1947 British psychological thriller drama film starring Burgess Meredith and directed by Anthony Kimmins, and based on the novel of the same name by Nigel Balchin. It was entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival. The title is derived from a quotation of John Donne's "Devotions", which serves as the motto for the original book.

<i>The Kangaroo Kid</i> (film) 1950 film by Lesley Selander

The Kangaroo Kid is a 1950 Australian-American Western film directed by Lesley Selander.

Tom McCreadie (1907–1992), better known as T. O. McCreadie was an Australian film director and producer, who was also involved in distribution and exhibition for many years.

Strong is the Seed is a 1949 Australian drama film, about the life of agronomist and plant breeder William Farrer.

<i>Smiley Gets a Gun</i> 1958 Australian film

Smiley Gets a Gun is a 1958 Australian comedy-drama film in CinemaScope directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring Sybil Thorndike and Chips Rafferty. It is the sequel to the 1956 film Smiley.

Night Club is a 1952 Australian film musical directed by A. R. Harwood. It is a remake of Harwood's 1938 film, Show Business.

Alfred Rolfe, real name Alfred Roker, was an Australian stage and film director and actor, best known for being the son-in-law of the celebrated actor-manager Alfred Dampier, with whom he appeared frequently on stage, and for his prolific output as a director during Australia's silent era, including Captain Midnight, the Bush King (1911), Captain Starlight, or Gentleman of the Road (1911) and The Hero of the Dardanelles (1915). Only one of his films as director survives today.

Rex Rienits was an Australian writer of radio, films, plays and TV. He was a journalist before becoming one of the leading radio writers in Australia. He moved to England in 1949 and worked for a number of years there. He later returned to Australia and worked on early local TV drama.

Reginald Thomas Lye, was an Australian actor who worked extensively in Australia and England. He was one of the busiest Australian actors of the 1950s, appearing in the majority of locally shot features at the time, as well as on stage and radio. Lee Robinson called him "one of the best character actors in Australia." He moved to England in the early 1960s,, but returned to Australia when the film industry revived in the 1970s.

Hartney J. Arthur was an Australian actor, writer and film director, who worked in stage, radio and film.


  1. Smiley. Sylvan Press. 1945.
  2. 1 2 3 Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 221.
  3. "Smiley To Be Filmed". The Central Queensland Herald. Rockhampton, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 18 August 1955. p. 4. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  4. "Film in 1957 | BAFTA Awards".
  5. 1 2 "£100,000 film planned". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 21 March 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  6. "Augathella to paint 'Smiley' tribute mural". Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. "SMILEY: story of a bush Youngster". The Australian Women's Weekly . National Library of Australia. 17 October 1956. p. 40. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  8. "Australian Huck Finn". The Argus . Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 15 June 1946. p. 16. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  9. "Cinema: Garden Notes". The Mercury . Hobart, Tasmania: National Library of Australia. 30 November 1946. p. 3 Supplement: The Mercury Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  10. "Author Arrives To Select Players For "Smiley" Film". The Sydney Morning Herald . National Library of Australia. 11 November 1946. p. 1. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  11. "Search for boy actor". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 16 March 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  12. "Australian Film Industry: Big Plans Made". The Sydney Morning Herald . National Library of Australia. 9 April 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  13. "Seeks 'scallywag with angel face'". The Argus . Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 15 March 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  14. "Doubt on Western film site". The Courier-Mail . Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 23 March 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  15. "He wants tough Aussie boy with smiling face". The Argus . Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 19 August 1955. p. 3. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  16. "Smiley : The Musical | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories".