Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film

At the nadir of the Depression in 1931, the controlling
shareholder of Australasian Films forced the company into
liquidation. Immediately, the managing director, Stuart
Doyle, formed a new company, Greater Union Theatres,
and the following year he created Australia’s most financially successful studio, Cinesound Productions, under the
supervision of Ken G. Hall (1901–1994). Beginning with
On Our Selection, Hall produced, directed, and was often
the writer of seventeen films between 1932 and 1940,
which was Cinesound’s total output except for one film,
Come Up Smiling (renamed Ants in His Pants after it was
previewed in Hobart in 1939), and even in this film,
Hall’s influence was evident, as it was based on his script
(under the pseudonym John Addison Chancellor). Every
Cinesound production was profitable, although Strike Me
Lucky (1934), starring Australia’s most popular stage and
radio comedian, Roy Rene (1892–1954), only recovered
its costs some time after its initial release.
Hall, who visited Hollywood in 1925 to observe film
production techniques, modeled Cinesound on the
Hollywood studio system. He tried to minimize the
chances of failure with a formula that emphasized
the ‘‘Australianness’’ of Cinesound Productions through
dialogue and settings within a narrative structure that
appealed to audiences familiar with Hollywood films.
The most successful Cinesound productions were the
series of ‘‘Dad ’n’ Dave’’ films starring Bert Bailey
(1868–1953) as Dad Rudd and Fred MacDonald
(1895–1968) as his slow-witted son, Dave. Loosely based
on the characters created by Steele Rudd (1868–1935),
Hall directed On Our Selection, Grandad Rudd (1935),
Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938), and Dad Rudd MP
(1940), Cinesound’s last production. Hall’s versatility
also included a wide range of genres from society melodramas (The Silence of Dean Maitland, 1934, and Broken
Melody, 1938), to adventure melodramas (Orphan of the
Wilderness, 1936; Thoroughbred, 1936; Lovers and
Luggers, 1937; Tall Timbers, 1937), and musicals (Gone
to the Dogs, 1939) as well as various forms of comedy (It
Isn’t Done, 1937, Let George Do It, 1938). In 1938 he
persuaded Cecil Kellaway (1893–1973) to return to
Australia from Hollywood, where he had a contract with
RKO, for one of his best films, Mr. Chedworth Steps Out
(1939). Kellaway plays George Chedworth, a likeable
family man victimized by a pretentious wife, ungrateful
employers, and a son (Peter Finch) addicted to gambling.
This gentle melodrama combined comedy with a subtle
critique of Australian middle-class family life in the late