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… One of the unfortunate temptations of hiring a rock star to carry a film is for the director to rely rather lazily on that star’s in-built charisma instead of trying to mould him into a character. Witness Mick Jagger, here cast as Australia’s most memorable outlaw, who is so similar to his stage image that you half expect him to start shrieking, “It’s great to be Down Under!” or “Thank you, Sydney, you’ve been a great audience!” Realistically, though, the blame has to be laid at the door of director Tony Richardson, whose handling sometimes obscures the message and buries the drama. The songs of Shel Silverstein, however, help to give the film a certain focus.

John Marriott Radio Times

It was Ned Kelly that kicked started our addiction to moving pictures. Cinema wouldn’t be the same without the 1906 feature-length motion picture The Story Of The Kelly Gang – the world’s first continuous narrative film. Since that time Ned has appeared in a dozen movies and has been portrayed by Mick Jagger [Ned Kelly 1970] and Heath Ledger [Ned Kelly 2003]. Over the past century his story and likeness has been delineated, parodied, reinterpreted, and deconstructed in documentaries, short films, television shows, cartoons, promotions, and advertisements. Each new addition, regardless of quality or quantity, adds to the folklore and continues to propagate the legend.

John Wick 4

“Such is Life…”

John Wick uncovers a path to defeating The High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

Date: 2023
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writer: Shay Hatten, Michael Finch, Derek Kolstad
Editor: Nick Fenton
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, George Georgiou
Production: Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Films, 87Eleven Productions
Distributor: Lionsgate
Category: Cinema

In this scene, Winston (Ian McShane) talks to Charon (Lance Reddick) about the last few minutes of Ned Kelly’s life and marvels at how calm he was to meet his ultimate fate.

When Ian McShane namedropped Ned Kelly in “John Wick 4”, I found myself grateful I was in an empty theater, because you just know packed houses in Australia will give a standing ovation for that shit.



The Masked Singer Australia

Part guessing game, part music extravaganza, The Masked Singer is already a global phenomenon with over half a billion fans worldwide. The Masked Singer Australia features celebrities battling it out with one major twist: each singer is shrouded from head to toe in an elaborate costume, concealing their identity from the audience and the viewers at home. With each performance, clues about the celebrity will be revealed, but will they help you solve the riddle, or just lead you down the wrong path?

Date: 2020
Character: Bushranger
Released: Season 2
Category: Television Show

Bonnie Anderson, dressed as the Bushranger, won season two in the final episode of The Masked Singer.


True History of the Kelly Gang

Inspired by Peter Carey’s Man Booker prizewinning novel of the same name, the True History of the Kelly Gang is an epic, fictionalised re-telling of the life of legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. Lauded by critics at the Toronto International Film Festival the film shatters the mythology of the notorious icon to reveal the essence behind his life and forces a country to stare back into the ashes of its brutal past. Written for the screen by Shaun Grant [Snowtown] and directed by the award-winning Justin Kurzel [Snowtown, Assassin’s Creed], it stars a spectacular cast of award-winning Australian and international stars, including BAFTA Award-winner George MacKay and Oscar-winner Russell Crowe.

Date: 2019
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Shaun Grant, Peter Carey
Editor: Nick Fenton
Production: Stan Original Film
Category: Cinema

Historically, this film bears little resemblance to the story of Ned Kelly. It is more akin to a reinterpretation of A Clockwork Orange while Carey’s fascination with cross-dressing can best describe this cinematic attempt as Mad Max meets Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

Legends require embellishment. For whatever reasons, the swelling reverence and the contagious public support, included even in Carey’s fictional source novel, are excised from emphasis by screenwriter Shaun Grant. That’s the sweep and space where legends reside. That’s the real volume, not the screaming confrontations or the gunfire, that make Ned Kelly and company mythic. Without some of that enveloping weight, all this amounts to is an abridged and radical folk tale without the proper embellishment.

Don Shanahan



Australia has a history of tough criminals. It’s why Crimsafe build their security screens to be tougher than the rest.

Date: 2019
Title: Ned Kelly
Length: 15 seconds
Category: Advertisement


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a 2018 American Western anthology film written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers. It stars James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, Bill Heck, Grainger Hines, Harry Melling, Jonjo O’Neill, Chelcie Ross, and Saul Rubinek, and features six vignettes that take place on the American frontier.

Date: 2018
Plot: Near Algodones
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Editor: Roderick Jaynes
Distributor: Netflix
Length: 133 minutes
Category: Cinema

A young cowboy [played by James Franco] robs an isolated bank on the prairie. As he is fleeing, the jabbering bank teller shoots at him, forcing him to take cover behind a well. He returns fire, but the teller charges him while wearing a washboard and several pots and pans as armour, which deflect all the cowboy’s bullets as the teller repeatedly cackles ‘Pan shot!‘ The teller knocks the cowboy out with the butt of his shotgun. By the end of chapter James Franco’s neck is in a noose, and he says, ‘That Pan-Shot son’ bitch, back at the bank don’t hardly fight fair in my opinion.’

Unfortunately the weakest film is therefore first one [The Ballad of Buster Scruggs] and this sets a bad tone for the film as a whole. This kept me from enjoying the second as much as I might have done otherwise. I did like the homages to Ned Kelly in ‘Near Algodones’ but otherwise, it is not exceptionally distinguished apart from what is probably the single best line of dialog in the film.

Netflix Original Movies Reviewed


Rick and Morty

With the kids dealing with their parents’ divorce, Rick takes them to a Mad Max-style universe where he tries to steal a green crystal from a group of scavengers.

Date: 2017
Title: Rickmancing the Stone
Released: Season 3Episode 2
Creator: Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland
Director: Dominic Polcino, Wesley Archer
Script: Jane Becker
Category: Animated TV Show

The episode features a character by the name of Hemorrhage – a Ned Kelly and Master Blaster [Mad Max 2] hybrid.


Australian Day Lamb

Legendary Australian cricketer and commentator Richie Benaud has enlisted the help of Lambassador Sam Kekovich and a plethora of national icons from through the ages to encourage Aussies to get together over lamb on Australia Day.

Date: 2015
Agency: The Monkeys
Director: Tom Noakes
Producer: Belinda Dean
Length: 100 seconds
Category: Advertisement

Cricketing icon Richie Benaud, the 2015 Lambassador for Australia Day, makes a few phone calls to other famous Aussies to offer them a place as his table on January 26. In the process we discover lamb-loving Sam Kekovich will not be bringing tofu, while Ned Kelly is not a ‘vego’ as he ‘quite likes lamb’.


Star Wars Downunder

The film tells the story of a lone Jedi – Merve Bushwacker – returning home after a long absence. His mission? To partake in a refreshing beverage, known locally as amber fluid. On his arrival, he is dismayed to discover the planet has become as dry as a ‘dead dingo′s donger’, thanks to the tyrannical rule of Darth Drongo. Drongo has hoarded all the amber fluid in his impenetrable fortress known as ‘Dunny’s Deep’ for reasons unknown. Can Merve, and a motley collection of unlikely allies band together to topple Drongo’s evil regime? Will liberty and amber fluid flow freely once more?

Date: 2013
Director: Michael Cox
Writer: Bryan Meakin, Michael Cox
Length: 30 minute
Category: Fan Film

To make this a true Aussie epic Star Wars adventure the stormtrooper styled army is equipped with Kelly Gang armour right down to the slit visor. They even sport laser boomerangs – what’s more Australian than that?


Bunnings Warehouse

Date: 2013
Title: Oates cleans best
Length: 30 seconds
Category: Advertisement

This commercial was made for Bunnings and features a stainless steel version of Ned Kelly’s armour made by Max’s Ned Kelly Creations.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold

The Question, under Batman’s guidance, dodges Kalibak and the Parademons on Apokolips when gathering information on Darkseid’s plans to invade Earth.

Date: 2010
Title: The Knights of Tomorrow!
Released: Season 2Episode 23
Creator: James Tucker, Michael Jelenic
Director: Michael Chang
Script: Todd Casey, Jake Black
Category: Animated TV Show

In the final montage Batman dispatches an assortment of villains including the Swagman, who bases his armour on Ned Kelly.


Crime Stoppers

Date: 2009
Title: Pretend to be Ned Kelly
Length: 15 seconds
Category: Advertisement

This Crime Stoppers community service announcement was aired on free-to-air television in Victoria.

Iron Man

Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures, it is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by the writing teams of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, the film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man alongside Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Leslie Bibb, and Shaun Toub. In the film, following his escape from captivity by a terrorist group, world-famous industrialist and master engineer Tony Stark builds a mechanized suit of armour and becomes the superhero Iron Man.

Date: 2008
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenplay: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Producers: Avi Arad, Kevin Feige
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique
Editor: Dan Lebental
Music: Ramin Djawadi
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Length: 126 minutes
Category: Cinema

Shit, the guy even lived through the essentials of Iron Man‘s freaking origin story: taking on a hostile force with a metal super-suit he built from whatever scrap parts he could salvage. By now, you can recognize every Australian in the vicinity because they’re all staring at the monitor and screaming “It’s Ned Kelly, mate! Ned Kelly!” at the top of their lungs … Granted, his armor didn’t have an arc reactor or flamethrowers, but to be fair, it was 1880, and the dude was a fugitive bush ranger. However, he has a couple of things going for himself, as Iron Man antics go. One, his makeshift armor was suspiciously similar to superhero attire. And two, he looked like Howard Stark’s hipster uncle.

Pauli Poisuo


Nurofen Tablets

Date: 2008
Title: Ned Kelly
Agency: Euro RSCG
Director: David Denneen
Production: Filmgraphics
Length: 45 seconds
Category: Advertisement

This Nurofen advertisement features Ned Kelly in his last stand at Glenrowan. As he engages the police in a firefight he begins to suffer from a headache due to a number of bullet strikes to his helmet. Ned withdraws into the hotel, removes his helmet and places it on a nearby stool. Slumped against a fireplace, he pulls a box of Nurofen Tablets out of his pocket and consumes one. After a few seconds Ned is back to reality. As the police continue to shoot up the Inn, Ned kicks his helmet over to a nearby window. Seeing the helmet the hapless police mistake it for Ned and redirect their fire. In the ensuing distraction Ned escapes into the bush on horseback. The production and quality is outstanding, while the actor portraying Ned bears an uncanny resemblance to Heath Ledger from the 2003 movie Ned Kelly.


Online scammers can cause you some pretty big hassles. And the old school bad guys aren’t too happy about these up-starts stealing their thunder in the badness stakes.

Date: 2007
Title: Internet Safety with Ned Kelly
Length: 80 seconds
Category: Advertisement

Ned Kelly

It is loosely based on the story of Australian bushranger and icon Ned Kelly, who had a brutal childhood and, at sixteen years of age, was imprisoned for stealing a horse. Upon release four years later, Ned’s sister is assaulted, and it’s Ned and his mother who are charged with attempted murder. Forced to go on the run, Ned is determined to avenge his family and strike back at the system that wrongs them all. He forms the notorious Kelly gang with his brother Dan and two other men, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. The gang rob a bank, hijack an entire town for three days, and kill three policemen who were hunting them. Making use of homemade steel helmets and chest plates to protect themselves, they take over a pub in Glenrowan, where they gather, waiting for a train full of police to derail at a part of the track they had pulled up. However, it doesn’t go according to plan and results in a shootout.

Date: 2003
Director: Gregor Jordan
Writer: John McDonagh
Producer: Nelson Woss, Lynda House
Associate: Robert Drewe
Photography: Oliver Stapleton
Editor: Jon Gregory
Production: Working Title Films
Category: Cinema

Ned Kelly‘s script was lifted from the fictional pages of Robert Drewe’s Our Sunshine. While Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Ned Kelly was nearly brilliant, the story and most of the supporting cast lacked any impetus. The shoot-out at Glenrowan between the Kelly Gang and the police was more akin to a scene from Young Guns [1988] than anything resembling a factual occurrence.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Loosely based on volume one of the comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, famed adventurer Allain Quartermain [Sean Connery] is recruited by the British Empire to spearhead their League in order to find the evil Fantom before he starts a world war.

Date: 2003
Creator: Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill
Director: Stephen Norrington
Script: James Dale Robinson
Category: Cinema

Somewhere in the frozen Arctic lies an industrial fortress busily creating weapons of mass destruction for an upcoming world war. Along with vehicles and munitions, the workers are constructing an army of battle suits whose design bears more than a passing resemblance to the Kelly Gang’s armour, in particular, the helmets as depicted in the 1950 comic book Dead Eye Western #11.



NED is a comedy based on the rise and fall of Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws. It is satire of the bushranger and his iconographical status as a ‘hero’.

Date: 2003
Creator: Abe Forsythe
Director: Abe Forsythe
Script: Abe Forsythe
Category: Cinema

The history of parodies in Australian cinema is littered with the celluloid carcasses of many well intentioned flicks. In that respect you must commend writer, director, and lead actor Abe Forsythe who put in a mammoth effort to get his idea off the ground. While the film’s concept was reported by some critics to fall short in certain areas, the good old Aussie fart joke helped push the story along at a solid pace. Despite the level of toilet humour, or because of it, teenage boys in particular should enjoy this film. There are many moments that may have to be viewed twice as the jokes are better the second time around.

The funniest Australian film made in the last ten years.

Shaun Micallef 2006


Reckless Kelly

The large Kelly family run a pub on Reckless Island and also operate the Kelly Gang of bank robbers. Though this only consists of Ned it is highly effective as he has built up a high tolerance to bullets. Unfortunately, the bank fights back by offering the island for sale. The Kellys suddenly need a million dollars, and as all the money they rob in Australia goes to the poor, Ned sets off to California to rob banks there – or become a movie star.

Date: 1993
Creator: Yahoo Serious
Director: Yahoo Serious
Script: Yahoo Serious
Category: Cinema

Yahoo Serious’ satirical take on the Australian bushranger myth places Ned Kelly [Yahoo Serious] in a contemporary setting as a new-age outlaw on a mission to save his homeland from international bank executive and cunning arch-nemesis, Sir John [Hugo Weaving]. Subverting the stereotype of the gun-totting, cattle duffing and violent bushranger, Serious’ Kelly is an anti capitalist, environmentalist Republican. Reckless Kelly’s political undertones and historical references make this a ‘must for all students of Australian culture.’

Adrian Martin Film Critic


Weetabix Cereal

Date: 1992
Title: Ned Kelly Advertisement
30 seconds
Category: Advertisement

In the 1990s, ads for the cereal Weetabix in the United Kingdom implied that it made the consumer so strong and powerful that others were terrified of them. One such advertisement had Ned Kelly in full armour hiding in a shack surrounded by the police. As the officer in charge calls for his surrender, Ned emerges from the hut with a spoon and cereal bowl, threatening to ‘eat the Weetabix’ if they make a false move. The officer tells his men to stand back since Ned is not bluffing. As one policemen cocks his rifle, Ned brings the spoon to his mouth slit only to find that the opening is too small for the spoon. As he cannot eat the Weetabix and become stronger he is forced to surrender.

Electronic Sales and Rentals

Date: 1984
Title: Great Moments in History
Length: 30 seconds
Category: Advertisement


The Last Outlaw

An unmistakable Australian icon – a smoking revolver, two piercing eyes behind a makeshift armour mask. But beyond the armour, behind the eyes, was a man both ruthless and gentle, rugged and kind – the infamous last outlaw, Ned Kelly, was his name. Both revered and reviled throughout the ages, Ned Kelly [John Jarratt, Wolf Creek] was an Irish-Australian battler-cum-bushranger, fiercely independent and pushed into action by the repressive colonial authorities of the time. From the creative team behind Against The Wind, accurately presented and meticulously researched to the finest detail, The Last Outlaw examines the life of Ned Kelly and expounds the legend from early indiscretions and the formation of his gang through to the violent killings at Stringybark Creek, culminating in his explosive last stand and shoot out at Glenrowan. It also features Sigrid Thornton, Steve Bisley, Gerard Kennedy, Julia Blake, Lewis Fitz-Gerald and a throng of first-class Australian talent. The Last Outlaw is a remarkable four-part miniseries presentation that deflects historical judgment and allows the legend to live on.

Date: 1980
Director: Kevin Dobson, George Miller
Script: Bronwyn Binns, Ian Jones
Producer: Roger Le Mesurier
Cinematography: Ernie Clark
Music: Brian May
Production: Pegasus Productions
Length: 379 minutes
Category: Mini Series

The most accurate and lavishly presented story of the Ned Kelly saga is Ian Jones and Bronwyn Binns’ mini-series The Last Outlaw, made in 1980 by Pegasus Productions and Channel Seven Melbourne. Directed by Kevin James Dobson and George Miller [Mad Max] with music by Brian May, the Logie award-winning four-part mini-series was filmed on location in and around Kelly Country. With a total running time of 379 minutes, the four-part mini-series was presented in the following episodes – one: 1869 to 1874; two: 1875 to 1878; three: 1878 to 1879; and four: 1879 to 1880.


Ned Kelly

‘Such is Life’, the infamous final words of legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, set the tone for Richardson’s folkloric bushranger tale starring the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. Ned Kelly is a retelling of the ill-fated story of Australia’s most notorious band of bushrangers. Set in the broader political context of British colonialism in late nineteenth century Australia, Richardson’s Kelly is a downtrodden Irish Catholic forced into thievery and violence by corrupt British authorities. Gerry Fishers’ superb cinematography captures the menacing threat of the Australian bush country and reinforces the tragic fate that awaits this national hero.

Date: 1970
Director: Tony Richardson
Script: Tony Richardson, Ian Jones
Producer: Neil Hartley
Cinematography: Gerry Fisher
Editor: Charles Rees
Composer: Shel Silverstein
Studio: United Artists
Length: 103 minutes
Category: Cinema

This movie is one of the best-known versions of the Kelly story, due to the casting of British rock star Mick Jagger as the Irish-Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. Jagger’s then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull was also supposed to star, but was hospitalised after an overdose and replaced by Diane Craig. The soundtrack included songs by American country singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Frank Thring delivered a great performance as Judge Redmond Barry.


A Fistful of Dollars

Joe (Clint Eastwood) tricks Rojo (Gian Maria Volonte) into shooting at his armour, then kills all of his gunmen at once.

By the time Sergio Leone made A Fistful of Dollars, Italians had already produced about 20 ironically labelled ‘spaghetti westerns.’ Although the plot was borrowed from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), Leone managed to create a work that would serve as a model for many future films. Clint Eastwood plays a cynical gunfighter who comes to a small border town and offers services to two rival gangs. Neither gang is aware of his double play, and each thinks it is using him, but the stranger will outwit them both. The picture was the first instalment in a cycle known as the ‘Dollars’ trilogy. Later, the distributor, United Artists, coined another term: the ‘Man With No Name’ trilogy. While not as impressive as its follow-ups, A Fistful of Dollars contains all of Leone’s eventual trademarks: taciturn characters, precise framing, extreme close-ups, and the haunting music of Ennio Morricone. Not released internationally until 1967 due to copyright problems, the film was decisive in Clint Eastwood’s career and the recognition of the Italian western.

Kelly is most famous for constructing the suit of iron armor that he wore into a gunfight with police. One can imagine how such a scene would appeal to filmmakers: It’s visually exciting, dramatic and weird. (Richardson was apparently not the only one who felt this way. The 2003 film of Ned Kelly also includes such a scene; it is perhaps no coincidence that Sergio Leone used a similar scene at the climax of A Fistful of Dollars).

Ethan De Seife

Date: 1964
Director: Sergio Leone
Producers: Arrigo Colombo, Giorgio Papi
Screenwriters: Adriano Bolzoni, Mark Lowell, Víctor Andrés Catena
Cinematographer: Massimo Dallamano
Editor: Roberto Cinquini
Music: Ennio Morricone
Length: 99 minutes
Category: Cinema


The Glenrowan Affair

The Glenrowan Affair features the bushranging exploits of Ned Kelly and his ‘wild colonial boys’ on their journey of treachery, violence, murder and terror. Told from the perspective of an aging Dan Kelly in present day Benalla, Kathner presents the narrative as a factual retelling despite his obvious embellishment of the Kelly myth.

Date: 1951
Writer: Rupert Kathner
Producer: Rupert Kathner
Director: Rupert Kathner
Editor: Alex Ezard
Length: 66 minutes
Category: Cinema

The production of the film generated more controversy than the film itself due to creative fallouts between Kathner and the film’s original director, Harry Southwell The Kelly Gang [1920], When the Kelly’s Were Out [1923], When the Kelly’s Rode [1934] and the casting of local football hero, Bob Chitty as Ned Kelly. Bob Chitty was famed and feared as one of the toughest men ever to play Australian Rules football. The Carlton strongman was cast as Ned Kelly in this movie by Rupert Kathner, which was narrated by popular actor Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell. The project was ambitious, but film critics were not kind.

This near-unendurable stretch of laboured, amateurish film-making is something that the developing Australian film industry will wish to forget-swiftly and finally … A film made on a shoe-string [as this obviously was] could still achieve a little crude vitality. This one isn’t even robust enough for the unconscious humour [and there is plenty of that] to be really enjoyable. The script is dreary, the photography more often out of-focus than in, the editing is unimaginative and the acting petrified. It would be misplaced kindness, in fact, to try and ferret out a redeeming feature.

Sydney Film Review The Sunday Herald


When The Kellys Rode

This Kelly film was the third made by Harry Southwell, a footloose, independent filmmaker of the 1920s and 1930s. The first, The True Story Of The Kelly Gang, was made in Victoria. The second, on cameraman Tas Higgins’ advice, was made again from scratch in 1923. It was shot, beautifully, by Higgins in the Burragorang and Kangaroo Valleys in New South Wales, and called When The Kellys Were Out. This third instalment featured  the same cameraman but a different actor for Ned Kelly. It was a ‘talkie’, filmed in the New South Wales Megalong Valley and nearby locations.

Date: 1934
Writer: Harry Southwell
Director: Harry Southwell
Studio: British Empire Films
Production: Imperial Feature Films
Length: 79 minutes
Category: Cinema

Southwell’s movies ran into trouble with the censor. When The Kellys Rode was banned in New South Wales [with the result that bushranging films were not favoured by financiers for sometime]. The Chief Secretary said he ‘felt enough had been heard about bushrangers.’ The film was made in 1934 – the same year Dollfuss was assassinated and Hitler was in power; Einstein had just taken up a professorship at Princeton; Benjamin Britten published his fourth major work; Shirley Temple won a Special Academy Award; and Qantas instituted the England to Australia airmail service. It seemed a very modern time in which to worry about robbery under arms.

View: When The Kelly Rode [stills]

When The Kellys Were Out

Welsh-born filmmaker Charles Southwell had a vision: to present the great drama of the Kelly saga on the Australian screen. He laboured at this task for fifteen years, producing three films of indifferent quality along the way – The Kelly Gang, When the Kellys Were Out, and When The Kellys Rode. Southwell’s endeavours were hampered by political sensitivities, with any pro-Kelly material liable to be banned.

Date: 1923
Writer: Harry Southwell
Producer: Harry Southwell
Director: Harry Southwell
Photography: Tasman Higgins
Category: Cinema

After the release of the world’s first full length movie featuring Ned Kelly in 1906, several more films focusing on the Kelly story were produced. In two of them, Ned was played by actor Godfrey Cass — real name Godfrey Castieau – who was the son of the Melbourne Gaol Governor John Buckley Castieau. As a thirteen-year-old, Godfrey had met Ned while the bushranger awaited execution in his father’s Gaol. When the Governor introduced Godfrey to his famous inmate, Ned was reported to have said, ‘Son, I hope you grow up to be as fine a man as your father.’ Godfrey played Ned Kelly for the last time in When The Kellys Were Out, when he was aged fifty-seven.


The Kelly Gang

Date: 1920
Writer: Harry Southwell
Producer: Harry Southwell
Director: Harry Southwell
Assistant: P. Garwood
Photography: Charles Herschell
Production: Southwell Screen Plays
Length: 66 minutes
Category: Cinema

The Kelly Gang is an Australian feature-length silent film about the bushranger Ned Kelly, and the second film to be based on his life. Filming took place in late 1919 in a temporary studio located in Coburg, Victoria. Additional scenes were shot on location in Croydon and Warburton while Cameron’s store in Kilsyth was used for the Euroa bank hold-up scene. Directed by the ‘Welsh Wizard’ Harry Southwell, the film was unspectacular and did little to ignite his career. It did, however, manage to avoid censorship in most states, most likely due to its opening warning against breaking the law. The movie was reasonably successful with a budget of £450 and a recorded box office of £20,000.


The Story of the Kelly Gang

Ned Kelly was the subject for the world’s first feature film made in Australia in 1906. Originally there were no intertitles; narration was performed by an onstage lecturer who also provided sound effects including gunfire and hoofbeats. It cost £1000 to make, but that money and more was recovered within its first week of screening. The outlaws were shown as gallant heroes, with no apology for their antisocial behaviour. It ran to full houses for five weeks before moving to other Melbourne theatres. It also screened in Sydney and Adelaide, and journeyed across Queensland. The movie was shown in New Zealand and England, where it toured as ‘the longest film ever made’.

Date: 1906
Producer: John Tait, Nevin Tait, Millard Johnson, William Gibson
Director: Charles Tait
Length: 60 minutes
Category: Cinema

The Story of the Kelly Gang has been added to a United Nations heritage register, joining a list of fewer than 200 items on UNESCO’s Memory of the World register, including the family archives of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel and the official trial records of Nelson Mandela.

To the Australian youth Ned Kelly and his associates are more real heroes than the whole catalogue of mythical champions from Hector and Achilles to Robin Hood, whilst the same youth may not be unjustly suspected of entertaining a sneaking prejudice against the police and other minions of the powers that be. These points have not been overlooked in the preparation of a biograph version of the Kelly gang; the outlaws are the heroes, the police cut a rather poor figure.

The Mercury 13 May 1907

View: The Story of the Kelly Gang [stills]