Kangaroo (1952)

84 mins | Western | June 1952

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Land Down Under , The Bushranger and The Australian Story . The title of Martin Berkeley's original screen story was "Sundown." Before the opening credits, a written acknowledgment states: "We are grateful to the Commonwealth of Australia for their aid in making this picture which was photographed in its entirety in the city of Sydney and the Flinders Ranges of South Australia." The title card reads "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Kangaroo The Australian Story."
       According to a Jun 1949 HR news item, Dudley Nichols was originally signed to write the film's screenplay, while a Nov 1949 LAT article lists Norman Reilly Raine as the screenwriter. The extent of Nichols' and Raine's contribution to the completed picture has not been determined, however. In Nov 1949, both HR and LAT reported that Tyrone Power would be starring in the picture, and a Jun 1950 HR news item stated that Louis King had been signed to direct. According to an Aug 1950 HR news item, Constance Smith was cast in the picture but was re-assigned to The 13th Letter (see below).
       Peter Lawford was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which was the first American film shot on location in Australia. In addition to Sydney and Flinders Ranges, portions of the film were shot at and near Port Augusta. Several contemporary sources note that the film's headquarters, which were constructed in a Port Augusta suburb, were named "Zanuckville," after Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck. After filming was completed, ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Land Down Under , The Bushranger and The Australian Story . The title of Martin Berkeley's original screen story was "Sundown." Before the opening credits, a written acknowledgment states: "We are grateful to the Commonwealth of Australia for their aid in making this picture which was photographed in its entirety in the city of Sydney and the Flinders Ranges of South Australia." The title card reads "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Kangaroo The Australian Story."
       According to a Jun 1949 HR news item, Dudley Nichols was originally signed to write the film's screenplay, while a Nov 1949 LAT article lists Norman Reilly Raine as the screenwriter. The extent of Nichols' and Raine's contribution to the completed picture has not been determined, however. In Nov 1949, both HR and LAT reported that Tyrone Power would be starring in the picture, and a Jun 1950 HR news item stated that Louis King had been signed to direct. According to an Aug 1950 HR news item, Constance Smith was cast in the picture but was re-assigned to The 13th Letter (see below).
       Peter Lawford was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which was the first American film shot on location in Australia. In addition to Sydney and Flinders Ranges, portions of the film were shot at and near Port Augusta. Several contemporary sources note that the film's headquarters, which were constructed in a Port Augusta suburb, were named "Zanuckville," after Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck. After filming was completed, "Zanuckville" was to be used as a permanent housing project, according to a Dec 1950 HR news item. In a Jul 1952 AmCin article, cinematographer Charles G. Clarke reported that the only "studio-built set in the entire production" was the flophouse set, located at the Ealing Studios in Sydney.
       Kangaroo marked the American film debut of popular Australian actor "Chips" Rafferty. According to Mar and Oct 1951 HR news items, the picture, which was to be shown in Australia in Oct 1951 as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the Commonwealth, would not contain footage of the Corroboree, the rain dance performed in the film by aborigines. HR noted that the studio had been allowed to film the dance only on the condition that it not be shown in Australia "because of its sacred nature." On 18 Oct 1951, HR noted that the picture had been taken off the Nov 1951 release schedule "to permit more time for an appropriate exploitation campaign." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Nov 50
p. 374.
American Cinematographer
Apr 51
p. 126.
American Cinematographer
Jul 52
pp. 292-293, 315-17.
Box Office
24 May 1952.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 May 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 51
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 52
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
26 Nov 1948.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 May 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 May 52
p. 1373.
New York Times
17 May 52
p. 22.
Newsweek
2 Jun 1952.
---
Time
2 Jun 1952.
---
Variety
20 Dec 1950.
---
Variety
21 May 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Research adv
Head of electrical crew
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Australian Story
The Bushranger
The Land Down Under
Release Date:
June 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 16 May 1952
Los Angeles opening: 29 May 1952
Production Date:
early November 1950--mid March 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 May 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1819
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
84
Length(in reels):
8
Countries:
Australia, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15031
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the midst of a years-long drought in 1910 Australia, rancher Michael McGuire goes from his cattle station near Port Augusta to Sydney to seek a bank loan. McGuire's request is refused, and he spends a drunken evening at a harbor flophouse. There, he meets recent English stowaway Richard Connor, and in his alcoholic haze, mistakes Connor for his long-lost son Dennis, whom he abandoned in an orphanage when the boy was only four. After sending McGuire to bed, Connor lurks outside a gambling house owned by Fenner and there attempts to rob another Englishman, John Gamble. Gamble has lost all of his money, however, and taunts Connor with the prospect of robbing the rich Fenner. Connor agrees to the dangerous scheme, but during the robbery, the hot-headed Gamble shoots Fenner. Mistakenly believing Fenner to be dead, the pair run away, although Connor stops at the flophouse to retrieve his belongings. With the still-drunken McGuire in pursuit, Connor leaves with Gamble, and when they discover that McGuire is a rancher, they escort him to the boat taking him back to Port Augusta. In the morning, Connor and Gamble, who want to trick McGuire into believing that Connor is his son, convince the old man that they are would-be ranchers who purchased five hundred head of his cattle while he was drunk. During the horse ride to the McGuire station, McGuire reveals that he owns 10,000 square miles of land, but due to the devastating drought, is near bankruptcy. Upon their arrival, McGuire is greeted by his beautiful daughter Dell, who immediately wins the heart of Connor. The pragmatic Dell informs ... +


In the midst of a years-long drought in 1910 Australia, rancher Michael McGuire goes from his cattle station near Port Augusta to Sydney to seek a bank loan. McGuire's request is refused, and he spends a drunken evening at a harbor flophouse. There, he meets recent English stowaway Richard Connor, and in his alcoholic haze, mistakes Connor for his long-lost son Dennis, whom he abandoned in an orphanage when the boy was only four. After sending McGuire to bed, Connor lurks outside a gambling house owned by Fenner and there attempts to rob another Englishman, John Gamble. Gamble has lost all of his money, however, and taunts Connor with the prospect of robbing the rich Fenner. Connor agrees to the dangerous scheme, but during the robbery, the hot-headed Gamble shoots Fenner. Mistakenly believing Fenner to be dead, the pair run away, although Connor stops at the flophouse to retrieve his belongings. With the still-drunken McGuire in pursuit, Connor leaves with Gamble, and when they discover that McGuire is a rancher, they escort him to the boat taking him back to Port Augusta. In the morning, Connor and Gamble, who want to trick McGuire into believing that Connor is his son, convince the old man that they are would-be ranchers who purchased five hundred head of his cattle while he was drunk. During the horse ride to the McGuire station, McGuire reveals that he owns 10,000 square miles of land, but due to the devastating drought, is near bankruptcy. Upon their arrival, McGuire is greeted by his beautiful daughter Dell, who immediately wins the heart of Connor. The pragmatic Dell informs Connor and Gamble that they cannot guarantee delivery of the cattle, and tries to return the money they gave to McGuire. Connor and Gamble insist on staying, however, and as they continue to convince McGuire that Connor is his son, they also help Dell to inspire him to save the station. Finally persuaded that he should stop wallowing in self-pity, McGuire orders the station hands to round up the remaining cattle and bring them to the ranch, where they have a month's feed left. Before they leave, police constable Leonard brings poacher Matt to the station, but Dell insists that Matt be allowed to work off his debt rather than be incarcerated. Unaware of Matt's true connection with Leonard, Connor and Gamble suspect that Matt is a policeman sent to spy on them. During the roundup, Gamble is bitten by a snake, and when Matt helps him, he sees scars from leg irons on Gamble's ankle. Connor orders Matt to keep silent about his discovery, and as the journey continues, his attraction to Dell grows. Gamble warns Connor against his feelings, as he is pretending to be her missing brother, and McGuire, who has not told Dell his suspicions, also worries. During the arduous trip back, many of the weakened cattle die and a raging brush fire threatens them all, but McGuire is satisfied with the surviving herd. Upon their arrival, the group finds a tribe of thirsty aborigines, who offer to perform a ceremonial rain dance in exchange for water. Instead of the rain, however, a fierce dust storm springs up, and everyone rushes to protect the station. The ferocious winds are about to destroy the windmill, an essential piece of equipment, when Gamble grudgingly volunteers to climb the tower and tie down the rotating blades. After Gamble is knocked unconscious by the blades, however, Connor rescues him and saves the windmill. As he recovers, Gamble tells Connor that he is tired of watching the younger man wrestle with his conscience and tells him to inform McGuire about his identity, thereby paving the way for his romance with Dell. Before Connor can talk with McGuire, however, he tells Dell that Connor is her brother. Dell, who has fallen in love with the handsome stranger, is horrified, but her anguish turns to joy when Connor enters and confesses not only who he is, but that he is wanted for robbing Fenner. Although Dell is relieved and embraces her beloved, McGuire castigates him for his deception. Dell in turn chastises McGuire for his obsession with the past and gullibility, then storms out. Connor leaves with Gamble, but during their attempted escape, Leonard, who has deduced their identities, chases them. Connor stops Gamble from shooting Leonard, although he is injured in the fray, and Leonard shoots Gamble to death. A heavy rainstorm begins as Leonard returns Connor to the McGuire station, where Dell tends to his wounds. Connor apologizes to Dell for his earlier behavior, and she readily forgives him. McGuire also forgives Connor and assures him that the grateful Leonard will testify on his behalf at his trial. McGuire then puts Dell's hand in Connor's and the happy couple beam at each other, while in town, the delighted citizens celebrate the rain. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.