The Power and The Glory, Happy Anniversary! April 4, 1941; With a Filmography of Director, Noel Monkman

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, April 3, 1941

 

At the Mayfair Theatre in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, April 4, 1941, The Power and the Glory opened with all the pomp and circumstance due a favorite son, from the Land Down Under. Power and Glory was made with a financial guarantee by the New South Wales government, had the Cooperation of the Royal Australian Air Force, faced a box-office outback because of the film being restricted to those of 16 years and older; and finally getting that family approval that the producers so desperately needed, and then marching on to critical acclaim [1]. From Perth to Melbourne, from Sydney to Adelaide, from Hobart to Brisbane, hundreds of articles in 1940 and 1941, covered every aspect of The Power and the Glory, featuring articles on: human interest, film ratings and age restriction, along with financing, while focusing much attention on the stars and crew of the production.

The director of The Power and the Glory was what many considered an enigmatic individual, in that, this would be Noel Monkman’s best and last feature film; some thought that Power and Glory was his last film altogether. Not so at all, Monkman had burst on the directorial scene with Typhoon Treasure, 1938, with Power and Glory as his follow-up; for the most part his second film was deemed a success. But, unlike most directors, Monkman did not continue his feature-film career, for his love and real interest was in underwater photography (and fascination with the microscopic world), with the goal of bringing awareness and facilitating preservation. These underwater documentaries in the 1930’s are what he cut his director’s chops on; Monkman was not mysterious, he just simply returned to what he loved most: oceanic –photography (39 years of photographing the Great Barrier Reef). After his return as scientist and documentarian, Monkman filmed at a much slower pace, only recording as many documentaries in the 1940’s through the 1960’s as he had in the 1930’s. Noel Monkman (a musician as well and a former member of the Sydney Capital  Orchestra) and his wife Kitty worked as a team, he an expert deep sea diver, she in charge of the diving machinery and chef; later it was Kitty who made sure that the memory of Noel Monkman was kept fresh, doing an interview with Ross Bowden[2] and writing Noel’s biography [3]. Monkman was awarded a fellowship by the Royal Microscopical Society of London; during WWII he assisted with the making of “Alert!” a security film for the Allied Air Command. In the late 1940’s he made two documentaries about the wine industry in Australia. As well, he received special thanks for his involvement in the Academy Award winning The Sea Around Us, 1953, an Irwin Allen documentary.

The Power and the Glory starred Katrin Rosselle (known for her stage work in Australia, and this her only film), Lou Vernon (his most noted work: On the Beach, 1959), Eric Bush (a New Zealander and former member of the Bondi Surf Club’s Rescue and Resuscitation team, which won the Australian championship in 1926, and for his appearances in the Australian theater) and a very young (lacerated and bruised) Peter Finch. Other crewmembers for The Power and the Glory, were Kitty Monkman, who acted as script-girl, Arthur Higgins (39 credits behind the camera) was the cinematographer, and John Howes took the assistant cameraman duties.

To help end our celebration of The Power and the Glory, with fireworks and streamers (at least for the resume nerds like myself), I have included a partial list of the films by producer director Noel Monkman and a brief description of each film; for your convenience here is the PDF of Monkman’s Filmography.

 

 

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Peter Finch

 

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Eric Reiman

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Eric Bush

The Filmography of director Noel Monkman

 

  1. The Winged Empress (1930) A Monkman Marvelogue Series documentary that chronicles a study of bees and the attempts to artificially aid the breeding and raising of queen bees.
  2. Secrets of the Sea (1931) – A Great Barrier Reef documentary, filmed on Green Island about the marine biology and microbiology of the Reef, made as both sound and silent versions.
  3. Birds of the Barrier Reef (1931) A Great Barrier Reef documentary, about the habitats of the differing birds of the Great Barrier Reef.
  4. The Cliff Dwellers (1932) – a documentary, part of the Australian Marvellogue series, a life history of a primitive bee, found only at Port Phillip.
  5. Strange Sea Shells (1932)  A short narrated documentary about the creatures of the sea at the Great Barrier Reef, including sea slugs, mollusks, giant clams, hermit crabs and their ilk.
  6. Coral and it’s Creatures (1932) – another Barrier Reef documentary
  7. Nature’s Little Jokes (1932) An Australian Marvelogue, a documentary about the curiosities of nature: the feather plant, poison plant, gecko lizard, walking fish and a snake versus a bush rat fight to the death.
  8. People of the Ponds (1932) Another Australian Marvelogue, a look at an extinct volcano crater, water fleas and water mites are a few things shown in this short-subject.
  9. Ocean Oddities (1933) an investigation of creatures that are afforded protection on the Great Barrier Reef, a documentary.
  10. Catching Crocodiles (1933) An Australian Marvellogue documentary aboutthe differing methods of taking a crocodile both freshwater and the great estuarine.
  11. You’d Never Guess (1933) A Monkman Marvalogue, a microscopic enlargement of caterpillars, flies and preying mantis’.
  12. Secrets of the Tropical Ocean (1935) A documentary
  13. The Great Green Turtle (1935) A documentary about the life cycle of the Great Green Turtle, from the laying of the eggs to the emerging young.
  14. Sea Shells and Their Inhabitants (1935) A documentary exploring a map of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef and marine life spent in a shell. In other sources, the word Tenants is substituted for Inhabitants.
  15. Typhoon Treasure (1938) – writer, director
  16. Some Inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef (1940) an adaptation of the documentary, Ocean Oddities.
  17. The Power and the Glory (1941) – writer, director
  18. Makers of Wine (1948) A documentary describing the Australian wine industry.
  19. Australian City, Country and Coastal Scenes (1949) The second documentary which highlighted the Australian wine industry.
  20. Marvels of Miniature (1950) –a documentary of microscopic life on the Barrier Reef
  21. Australia’s Coral Wonderland (1950) An exploration of one of North Queensland’s rivers and the tropical forest along its banks, then on to the Great Barrier Reef, a continent spanning documentary.
  22. Feathered Fishers (1950) A Great Barrier Reef series documentary
  23. Emperor of the Eucalypts (1953) A documentary
  24. King of the Coral Sea (1954) – director of underwater photography
  25. Armand and Michaela Denis on the Barrier Reef (1954) A documentary; Monkman worked as photographer
  26. Deep Down Under (1956) – another Great Barrier Reef series documentary
  27. Nests in the Sun  (1956) A documentary made for television
  28. Island of Turtles (1958) A life cycle documentary of the turtles that live on the mainland and the islands of the North East Coast of Australia.
  29. Coral Kingdom (1958) – his most widely known documentary, a look at underwater life of the Coral Reef on Australia’s East coast
  30. Invisible Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef (1964) A documentary about the marine creatures of the Great Barrier Reef, and the Great Barrier Reef Green Island Marine Biology Laboratory.

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, April 7, 1941

[2] Voices from a Vanishing Australia, 1988 by Ross Bowden

[3] Over and Under the Great Barrier Reef: Biography of Noel Monkman, by Kitty Monkman, 1975, Green Island, Qld. : K. Monkman

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