This was the first film from Ealing Studios to be made in Australia. Producer Balcon sent one of his better directors (Watt) to Australia with orders to find a subject that could well represent the land down under. After spending five months taking in the scenery, Watt met an official of
the Federal Food Office. He related a story that took place during WW II. In anticipation of a Japanese invasion the Australian government decided to move over 500,000 head of cattle to a safe location. The drive covered over 2,000 miles and took 15 months. Watt had found the subject he was
searching for. The film begins in 1942. A meat-packing plant has been destroyed, and Rafferty is ordered to kill 1,000 head of cattle. Rather than kill the much-needed prime beef, Rafferty decides to lead the cattle 2,000 miles across the continent. The long and hazardous journey is overwhelming.
The cattle drivers' horses die after eating poisoned weeds and wild horses must be rounded up and broken in. A particularly harrowing sequence involves a mad stampede heading directly towards the men.
This is all beautifully photographed against the setting of the Australian outback. Rafferty plays his part excellently as the strong, silent man with a job to do. He was known as "the Australian Gary Cooper" and well demonstrates how that moniker was earned. The majority of the cast is comprised
of non-actors, which gives the film a realistic touch. The score is by noted British composer Ireland and is his first attempt at film music. This is an often beautiful film that features a careful balance of both large and small moments.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This was the first film from Ealing Studios to be made in Australia. Producer Balcon sent one of his better directors (Watt) to Australia with orders to find a subject that could well represent the land down under. After spending five months taking in the… (more)