Collection – Harry Southwell

Public Support

“Dear National Film and Sound Archive,

I was wondering whether you might be interested to see some family snaps of early Australian filmmaker Harry Southwell, maker of Ned Kelly films in particular.

Southwell was married to my great-aunt, Madeleine Faith Gatwood, and occasionally crops up in the family album. In the photo called Family and Southwell, Harry is crouched on the right; my grandfather, Percy Byron Gatwood (credited as assistant director on one of Southwell’s films) is at left, holding the baby. In the other, Harry is standing in the centre, with his hand on the shoulder of his wife, crouched in the foreground; her brother, my grandfather, is seated at left. Both photos were taken around 1920, I think.

Hope you find them of interest.
Best wishes,
Roz Gatwood”

Attached were the following two wonderful photographs.

Family and Southwell

Harry standing in the centre, with his hand on the shoulder of his wife, crouched in the foreground; her brother is seated at left

We were particularly delighted to receive the email, because as the NFSA’s Historian, Graham Shirley says, ‘Harry Southwell is a somewhat mysterious character. He was on the fringe of Australian filmmaking for many years, and not much is known about him.’

Film books (Pike and Cooper’s Australian Film 1900-1977, and Graham Shirley’s own book with Brian Adams, Australian Cinema, The First Eighty Years) tell us that Harry Southwell was born in Wales and worked as a screenwriter with Vitagraph in America before coming to Australia in 1919. Promoting himself as the Welsh Wizard, he formed a production company and made The True Story of the Kelly Gang which opened in Sydney in 1920. He then made The Hordern Mystery (1920) and When the Kellys Were Out (1922). He went to Europe in 1923 where he made a biblical drama David and Le Juif Polonais, before returning to Australia to make When the Kellys Rode (1934), The Burgomeister (1935) and another uncompleted Ned Kelly film in 1947.

Graham Shirley is looking forward very much to talking to Roz to see what further information and leads can be obtained.

The NFSA is extremely grateful to Roz Gatwood and to all who provide us with such valuable material and support.

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