Bringing the audience into the picture
The experience of the cinema-going public remains perhaps the most challenging aspect of understanding film and audiences in New Zealand and Australia during the Great War. This image, taken circa 1910 in an unknown New Zealand cinema, is a rare glimpse back at a packed house.
Mutiny of the Bounty: Daybill
The daybill, or poster, for the first known cinematic dramatisation of the story Mutiny of the Bounty, directed by Raymond Longford (1916).
Charlie Chaplin at the Sydney Show?
Was Charlie Chaplin at Sydney’s 1916 Royal Easter Show? Yes, but not the real Charlie Chaplin. Just one of thousands of impersonators, as Chaplin’s worldwide fame grew.
This two-minute clip is taken from the Australian-made 1916 silent comedy Officer 666, based on a Broadway play. The director, Fred Niblo, also stars as millionaire Travers Gladwin. To foil an art theft, Gladwin disguises himself as Police Officer 666. However, one of the thieves arrives disguised as Gladwin, and merry confusion ensues.
As war raged across Europe, and Hollywood began building cinema audiences internationally, the Australian film industry was thriving. An impressive 16 feature films were released in 1916. Officer 666 was one of four features released by theatrical company J.C. Williamson. Williamson aimed to film hit US plays before the American companies, and then import them into Australia.