The Life of Rufus Dawes

Last updated

The Life of Rufus Dawes
Directed by Alfred Rolfe
Written by Alfred Rolfe
Based on Alfred Dampier (play)
For the Term of His Natural Life (novel) by Marcus Clarke
Produced by Charles Cozens Spencer
Starring Alfred Rolfe
Lily Dampier
Cinematography Ernest Higgins
Edited by Ernest Higgins
Production
company
Spencer's Pictures
Distributed bySawyer (US) [1]
Release dates
19 June 1911 (Sydney) [2] [3] [4]
27 November 1911 (Melbourne)
Running time
4,000 feet [5]
CountryAustralia
Languages Silent film
English intertitles

The Life of Rufus Dawes is a 1911 Australian silent film based on Alfred Dampier's stage adaptation of the 1874 novel For the Term of His Natural Life produced by Charles Cozens Spencer. [4] [6]

Contents

It was also known as The Story of Rufus Dawes, or the Term of His Natural Life [7] [8] or The Convict Hero. [9]

The film was the third produced by Charles Cozens Spencer, based on a popular stage adaptation by Alfred Dampier and starring Alfred Rolfe, his wife Lily Dampier and Raymond Longford. The others were Captain Midnight, the Bush King (1911) and Captain Starlight, or Gentleman of the Road (1911). Rolfe then left Spencer to work for the Australian Photo-Play Company under Stanley Crick.

It is considered a lost film. [10]

Synopsis

The film was divided into sections:

Unlike the original novel and 1908 film version, this had a happy ending. This was in line with Spencer's version of Robbery Under Arms which had a happier ending than the original novel.

Cast

Original Play

The film was based on a stage play adaptation of the novel which Dampier had performed in.

First Version of Play

For the Term of His Natural Life
Written by"Thomas Somers" [14] (aka Thomas Walker [15] )
Date premiered5 June 1886 [16]
Place premieredRoyal Standard Theatre Sydney
Original languageEnglish
GenreMelodrama

Dampier originally did a version of the play in the 1880s where he played Reverend North. The play was adapted by Thomas Walker using the name "Thomas Somers". [16] (Walker later became a speaker for the West Australian Parliament. [17] )

The structure of the play was as follows: [18]

Then the rest of the play set in Van Dieman's Land 1830-37:

It originally ran for only a week at the Alexandra Theatre in Melbourne, and had an unsuccessful revival there in 1890 and in Sydney in 1893. [19]

Rival Versions

Dampier's production of the novel was not the only one available to audiences at the time. In 1886 there was a production adapted by George Leitch [20] In 1887 there was another production in Sydney based on an adaptation by "T. South". [21] Walter Baker also did an adaptation. [22] However Dampier's was allegedly the only production which paid a royalty to Clarke's widow. [23]

Second Version of Play

His Natural Life
Written byAlfred Dampier
Thomas Walker
Date premiered1895
Original languageEnglish
GenreMelodrama

Dampier later worked on another version with Thomas Walker which had a more successful run in Sydney in 1895, with Rolfe playing Rufus Dawes, Alfred Dampier as Reverend North, and Lily Dampier as Sylvia Vickers. [24] [25] The play structured the story to emphasise the role of Reverend North. [26]

The critic from the Sydney Morning Herald described it as:

Inferior to Robbery Under Arms [another novel adapted by Dampier] as regards dialogue and construction, the characters are for the most part the merest puppets of melodrama, and the dramatic situations are far from convincing. Against all this, on the other hand, the play has to its credit the advantage of an intricate plot clearly set out, of rapid action of a sensational kind and two of three beautiful tableaux – elements of good which caused it to be welcomed on Saturday with the most extravagant expressions of delight. [26]

This play was often revived over the next few years. [27] [28] [29] [30] Alfred Dampier's last performance on stage was as Reverend North in a production of the play on 10 November 1905. [31] [32]

The play was still being revived in 1912 and 1913. [33] [34]

Production

It is likely the film was retitled to avoid confusion with another movie version of the novel that had been released in 1908. [35]

Raymond Longford worked on the movie and later claimed to have been the actual director. [36]

It appears from contemporary reviews that there was some filming at Port Arthur. [37]

Scenes involving Raymond Longford, who played Gabbett, were shot at La Perouse, Sydney. According to a later article in Everyone's:

Longford, stripped to the waist, tattered and blood bespattered, was at the head of a cliff many yards away from the camera and the rest of the company, who were preparing to scale the cliff to attempt his capture. Longford forgot that he would be visible to those on the other side of the cliff, and was startled to hear a piercing shriek and turned in time to see a woman on the beach below, running as though for her life. He signalled to the others to stop the action, which they did, thinking that something had gone wrong. Longford then turned around to see it he could appease the woman’s alarm. She was not to be seen, but creeping towards him in single file he saw some fishermen and stragglers, armed with sticks, oars and any handy weapon. The position looked ugly, and he reckoned he was in for a bad time, so rising to his feet, he gave a hail, intending to reassure the attackers that all was well. As soon as they caught sight of him and his accrutrements they dropped their weapons and incontinently fled. After that scouts were posted around the locations to warn sightseers what they might expect to see. [13]

Release

The film was released in Sydney on 19 June 1911 at the Broadway Theatre. [38] It was released in Melbourne on 27 November 1911 at the Olympic Theatre. [12] It debuted in Launceston on 22 January 1912. [39] (During the Launceston season, the film caught fire one night and the theatre had to be evacuated. [40] [41] )

Distribution of the film was blocked from legal action by Marcus Clarke's daughter, Marion Clarke. [42]

Critical reception

The Sydney Truth called it "a striking production". [3] It was described by The Argus as "an entirely original pictorial adaptation". [3] [43] The Kalgoorlie Miner wrote "the subject is treated magnificently, and every detail is perfectly carried out." [44]

US Release

It was bought for release in the USA by Sawyers Pictures, who retitled the movie The Convict Hero. [45] [46]

Related Research Articles

For the Term of His Natural Life is a story written by Marcus Clarke and published in The Australian Journal between 1870 and 1872. It was published as a novel in 1874 and is the best known novelisation of life as a convict in early Australian history. At times relying on seemingly implausible coincidences, the story follows the fortunes of Rufus Dawes, a young man transported for a murder that he did not commit. The book clearly conveys the harsh and inhumane treatment meted out to the convicts, some of whom were transported for relatively minor crimes, and graphically describes the conditions the convicts experienced. The novel was based on research by the author as well as a visit to the penal settlement of Port Arthur, Tasmania.

W. J. Lincoln

William Joseph Lincoln was an Australian playwright, theatre manager, film director and screenwriter in the silent era. He produced, directed and/or wrote 23 films between 1911 and 1916.

Lottie Lyell Australian actress and film director

Lottie Lyell was an Australian actress, screenwriter, editor and filmmaker. She is regarded as Australia's first film star, and also contributed to the local industry during the silent era through her collaborations with director and writer Raymond Longford.

For the Term of His Natural Life is a 1927 Australian film based on the 1874 novel by Marcus Clarke, directed, produced and co-written by Norman Dawn. It was the most expensive Australian silent film ever made and remains one of the most famous Australian films of the silent era.

Raymond Longford

Raymond Longford was a prolific Australian film director, writer, producer and actor during the silent era. Longford was a major director of the silent film era of the Australian cinema. He formed a production team with Lottie Lyell. His contributions to Australian cinema with his ongoing collaborations with Lyell, including The Sentimental Bloke (1919) and The Blue Mountains Mystery (1921), prompted the Australian Film Institute's AFI Raymond Longford Award, inaugurated in 1968, to be named in his honour.

Alfred Dampier Australian actor (circa 1843-1908)

Alfred Dampier was an English-born actor-manager and playwright, active in Australia.

The Fatal Wedding is a play by Theodore Kremer and a 1911 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford based on the melodrama, which he and Lottie Lyell had toured around Australia.

<i>The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole</i> 1911 Australian film

The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole, generally referred to as Margaret Catchpole, is a 1911 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford and starring Lottie Lyell. It is based on the true story of Margaret Catchpole, an adventurer and convict.

The Tide of Death is a 1912 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford based on an original story by Longford. This was rare at the time because most Australian silent films were based on plays or novels.

The Silence of Dean Maitland is a 1914 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford. It is an adaptation of the 1886 novel of the same name by Maxwell Gray which was later filmed by Ken G. Hall in 1934. It is considered a lost film.

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.

Robbery Under Arms is a 1907 Australian silent western/drama film based on the 1888 novel by Rolf Boldrewood about two brothers and their relationship with the bushranger Captain Starlight. It was the first film version of the novel and the third Australian feature ever made.

<i>For the Term of His Natural Life</i> (1908 film) 1908 Australian film

For the Term of His Natural Life is a 1908 Australian silent film based on the 1874 novel by the same name by Marcus Clarke. The film is an adaptation of MacMahon's stage adaptation of the novel.

Charles Cozens Spencer was a British-born film exhibitor and producer, who was a significant figure in the early years of the Australian film industry. He produced films under the name Spencer's Pictures and was an early backer of the films of Raymond Longford. He was also instrumental in the creation of "The Combine".

<i>Captain Midnight, the Bush King</i> 1911 film

Captain Midnight, the Bush King is a 1911 Australian silent Western film about the fictitious bushranger Captain Midnight. It was the directorial debut of actor Alfred Rolfe. The film is based on the play of same name by W. J. Lincoln and Alfred Dampier. Captain Midnight, the Bush King is now considered lost.

Captain Starlight, or Gentleman of the Road is a 1911 Australian silent film about the bushranger Captain Starlight. It was based on Alfred Dampier's stage adaptation of the 1888 novel Robbery Under Arms. It is considered a lost film.

The Lady Outlaw is a 1911 Australian silent film set in Van Diemen's Land during convict days.

Dan Morgan is a 1911 Australian film from Charles Cozens Spencer about the bushranger Daniel Morgan. It was said to be starring "Alfred Rolfe and company". Rolfe directed three movies for Spencer, all starring himself and his wife Lily Dampier so there is a chance he may have directed this one and that it starred his wife. A prospectus for the Australian Photo Play Company said he directed it. It is considered a lost film.

Lily Dampier Australian actress

Katherine Annabel Lily Dampier, known as Lily Dampier, was an Australian actor of stage and screen. She was the daughter of Alfred Dampier and married to Alfred Rolfe.

For the Term of His Natural Life is a 1983 Australian three-part, six-hour television miniseries based on the classic 1874 novel of the same name by Marcus Clarke. Each episode aired for two hours on Nine Network on 23 May, 30 May and 6 June 1983.

References

  1. "Motion Picture News - Lantern: Search, Visualize & Explore the Media History Digital Library".
  2. "Raymond Longford", Cinema Papers, January 1974 p51
  3. 1 2 3 "BROADWAY THEATRE". The Truth . Sydney. 18 June 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 20 February 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  4. 1 2 "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 17 June 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Advertising". Great Southern Herald . Katanning, WA. 21 June 1913. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  6. Vagg, S., & Reynaud, D. (2016). Alfred Rolfe: Forgotten pioneer Australian film director. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 10(2),184-198. doi:10.1080/17503175.2016.1170950
  7. "Advertising". The Referee . Sydney. 31 May 1911. p. 16. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Advertising". The Hillston Spectator and Lachlan River Advertiser . NSW. 20 October 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  9. The Convict Hero at IMDb
  10. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998,21
  11. "Advertising." The Examiner (Launceston), 23 January 1912: 1, retrieved 26 November 2011
  12. 1 2 "Advertising". The Argus . Melbourne. 27 November 1911. p. 16. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  13. 1 2 Everyones, Everyones Ltd, 1920
  14. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 29 May 1886. p. 2. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  15. ""HIS NATURAL LIFE"". The Sunday Times . Perth. 20 June 1909. p. 3 Section: FIRST SECTION. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  16. 1 2 "AMUSEMENTS". The Sydney Morning Herald . 7 June 1886. p. 4. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  17. "PROHIBITION IN U.S.A." The Advocate . Burnie, Tasmania. 18 February 1925. p. 5. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  18. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 17 December 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  19. Fotheringham, p25, 32
  20. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 20 August 1886. p. 2. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 26 February 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  22. ""FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE."". The Register . Adelaide. 29 May 1926. p. 13. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  23. "AMUSEMENTS". The Advertiser . Adelaide. 28 August 1891. p. 7. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  24. Fotheringham p 49
  25. "HER MAJESTY'S THEATRE". The Sydney Morning Herald . 30 November 1895. p. 10. Retrieved 2 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  26. 1 2 "AMUSEMENTS. HER MAJESTY'S.—"HIS NATURAL LIFE."". The Sydney Morning Herald . 2 December 1895. p. 6. Retrieved 2 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  27. "EVENING ENTERTAINMENTS". The Brisbane Courier . 25 September 1899. p. 9. Retrieved 17 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  28. "THEATRE ROYAL". The Mercury . Hobart, Tasmania. 1 January 1900. p. 2. Retrieved 17 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  29. "CRITERION THEATRE". The Sydney Morning Herald . 30 June 1900. p. 10. Retrieved 17 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  30. "AMUSEMENTS". The Advertiser . Adelaide. 5 January 1903. p. 7. Retrieved 17 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  31. Fotheringham p 55
  32. "CRITERION THEATRE.—"HIS NATURAL LIFE."". The Sydney Morning Herald . 6 November 1905. p. 3. Retrieved 17 September 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  33. ""HIS NATURAL LIFE."". The Sydney Morning Herald . 18 March 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  34. "STRUTTER'S PAGE". The Newsletter: an Australian Paper for Australian People . Sydney. 8 November 1913. p. 2. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  35. Fotheringham p58
  36. "AUSTRALIAN FILMS". The Daily News (HOME (FINAL) ed.). Perth. 18 December 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  37. "SPENCE PICTURES". Table Talk . Melbourne. 30 November 1911. p. 21. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  38. "Advertising". The Sydney Morning Herald . 19 June 1911. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  39. "PRINCESS THEATRE". The Examiner (DAILY ed.). Launceston, Tasmania. 22 January 1912. p. 6. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  40. "Fire at a Theatre". The Examiner (DAILY ed.). Launceston, Tasmania. 27 January 1912. p. 6. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  41. "FILMS ON FIRE". The Sydney Morning Herald . 29 January 1912. p. 10. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  42. "Moving Picture World - Lantern: Search, Visualize & Explore the Media History Digital Library".
  43. "Advertising". The Argus . Melbourne. 24 November 1911. p. 12. Retrieved 1 July 2014 via National Library of Australia.
  44. "RADIO PICTURES". Kalgoorlie Miner . WA. 23 August 1913. p. 8. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  45. "Moving Picture World - Lantern: Search, Visualize & Explore the Media History Digital Library".
  46. "Moving Picture World - Lantern: Search, Visualize & Explore the Media History Digital Library".