Friday, November 2, 2018

Robbery Under Arms (1920)

An early Australian tale of bushranging in the Outback (though amazingly already in 1920 the third adaptation of the novel Robbery Under Arms, there were films in 1907 and 1911 too - two more were made after this one). What are bushrangers? They were outlaws in the Australian outback who were at their height in the nineteenth century, the most famous being Ned Kelly of course.

This film stars Kenneth Brampton as Captain Starlight who is a "gentleman robber", a nicely ambiguous character - a criminal but also a hero seemingly in the Australian tradition. He gets involved with two brothers Roland Conway and S.A. Fitzgerald who join him on his escapades.

The escapades are pretty epic too with plenty of action scenes against a superb backdrop. The Australian countryside being the real star of the film. After many shoot outs and horse chases the gang face the music. The moral angle is played heavily at the end (presumably to get over a ban at the time in parts of Australia for films depicting bushrangers). Crime doesn't pay, apparently.