Newest Reviews
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Newest Articles
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
  Overlanders, The The Longest Cattle Drive
Year: 1946
Director: Harry Watt
Stars: Chips Rafferty, John Nugent Hayward, Daphne Campbell, Jean Blue, Helen Grieve, John Fernside, Peter Pagan, Frank Ransome, Stan Tolhurst, Marshall Crosby, John Fegan, Clyde Combo, Henry Murdoch
Genre: Western, Drama, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Australia in 1942, and the fear is that Japan will invade the Northern Territory, so drastic action must be taken. Although the white population numbers a mere five thousand, the number of cattle is far more as farming is the prevailing occupation in that region, and the Government have decided that to make sure the Japanese get none of their resources, the animals must be slaughtered and their carcasses burned. But not everyone is happy about this as a preventative measure, and cattleman Dan McAlpine (Chips Rafferty) is one of them: he believes the cows can be saved, though to do so would involve driving hundreds of them across the continent in a potentially very dangerous operation with no guarantee of success. But Dan is convinced, and convinces the authorities too...

As the opening credits tell us, The Overlanders was based on a true story, though none of the actual people who took part in the cattle drive were depicted in this fictionalised version of an event that, it turned out, was unnecessary as the Japanese did not invade Australia. Still, this film had been in production from Britain's Ealing Studios since the war had been underway, and though it was over by the point of release, it was a huge hit in Australia, partly because of the novelty of watching a project from their own homeland, and made a star of Rafferty who became something of an iconic presence in that nation's films. Since they were looking for homegrown heroes, Rafferty fit the bill as an unpretentious, down to earth but endlessly capable representative of the national character.

In Britain, as with many places around the globe, Westerns out of Hollywood were the most popular form of entertainment as far as movies went (but other media like books as well), yet making that genre outside of America was not going to be too impressive as far as emulating their success went - this was a couple of decades before Europeans, like the Italians, found their Westerns becoming very popular indeed. One solution for Ealing was to set up shop in Australia, where there were plenty of plains and deserts all the better to recreate the mood of the prairie which would not have been possible in Britain, and the films they made there were essentially Westerns in all but name. Just look at the imagery of The Overlanders and you would see men riding around on horseback - women, too - baking hot weather, acres upon acres of frontier territory, all the trappings of the American genre, basically.

Yet Australia, while having things in common with the United States, also has differences, and it was important to render the particular personality and characteristics of the land in those Ealing films, despite them being made with British talent - the director here, Harry Watt, had been chosen because of his documentary experience in Africa, which was considered close enough to Oz to make the most of his experience. Visually, he packed in as much of the landscape as he could, and though his cast were of varying levels of competence as far as acting went, they came across as authentic, as did almost everything here. The plot was essentially one damn thing after another as the cattle are placed in peril, and in fact so are some of the cattlemen, with the danger of running out of water, falling off cliffs and so forth the sort of issues they were facing. There was even space for romance, as Scottish sailor Peter Pagan gets to know cattlewoman Daphne Campbell, a former beauty queen in her only film role, but it was the environment you would take away from The Overlanders, no matter how monotonous the storyline threatened to become. Music by John Ireland (not the actor).

[Technically, this is a British film, hence Network releasing it on Blu-ray under their The British Film label. An image gallery is the extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 671 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: