Ken G. Hall
Hall was born in Sydney, Australia in 1901 and educated at North Sydney Boys' High School. He began his working life as a journalist before moving into the Australian silent film industry as a publicist. He began directing films in 1928 and was most prolific during the 1930s when he established his style of presenting authentic working Australian people in movies made almost exclusively for the Australian market, with characters speaking in strong Australian accents. Most often his characters were battlers, who struggled to improve their situation with good humour.
Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Hall was in charge of Australia's leading domestic studio, Cinesound Productions. As both producer and director, he was particularly successful with a series of serio-comedies based on the popular writings of author Steele Rudd, which featured the adventures of a fictional Autrallian farming family, the Rudds, and the perennial father-and-son duo, 'Dad and Dave' . Hall's Dad & Dave films were hugely popular at the time and are still considered among the best Australian comedies of the period. He was also successful with melodramas like The Silence of Dean Maitland (1935).
His other films include On Our Selection (1932), Strike Me Lucky (1934), which starred legendary stage comedian Roy Mo Rene, Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938), Dad Rudd, M.P. (1940) and Tall Timbers (1940). His comedy films had always proved popular but by the 1940s, as the influence of the American film industry began to dominate the world market, the once-thriving local industry began to dwindle. It has been claimed that this was in part because Australian audiences were beginning to regard locally produced films as passè, and that they preferred films from Hollywood, but there were other economic factors at work, and it is now widely accepted that the Australian industry was seriously undermined by the takeover of a number of major Australian distribution companies by American interests, and by the increasing reluctance of local investors to back Australian productions.
Hall continued working in the production of newsreels and documentaries through the Forties and beyond. During the war years, Hall oversaw several documentaries, including the Oscar-winning Kokoda Front Line (1942). His biggest worldwide success was 1946's Smithy, a film biography of Australia's most famous aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, which he produced, co-wrote and directed. Remakably, the film was picked up for American distribution by Columbia Pictures, a studio that normally steered clear of foreign product.
After the J. Arthur Rank organisation took over Cinesound after the war, Hall concentrated on exhibition and distribution. He moved into a whole new entertainment arena when, in 1956, he established Australia's first television station. Ken G. Hall wrote two autobiographical books: Directed by Ken G. Hall (1977) and Australian Film: The Inside Story (1980).
The Australian Film Institute recognised his ability to convey the unique Australian character on film, and his important contribution to the development of the Australian film industry, with a Raymond Longford Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1976.
Hall died in Sydney in 1994.
In 1995 the Australian National Film & Sound Archive (Screensound inaugurated the annual Ken G. Hall Award, which is presented by the Archive each year to a person, organisation or group that has made an outstanding contribution to Australian film preservation.
Past winners of the Award are Alan Rydge and Rupert Murdoch (1995), Peter Weir (1996), Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd (1997), Joan Long AM (1999), Anthony Buckley (2000), Murray Forrest (2001), Judy Adamson (2002), the late Tom Nurse (2003) and archivist and historian Graham Shirley (2004).
Ken G. Hall Facts
|February 22, 1901
|Date of death
|February 8, 1994 (age 92)