The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole

Title:
The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole
NFSA ID:
6453
Year:
1911
Category:
Access fees

This is the earliest surviving feature footage of the work of pioneering filmmakers Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell.  The first half of the film survives with the English setting of the story of Margaret Catchpole, a Suffolk lass, courted by two rivals, one a smuggler Laud, the other a coastguard, Lieutenant Barry.  In order to save her preferred lover, Will Laud, Margaret steals a horse and after being arrested is rescued by Will and the two, with the help of Little Kitty, take flight.  The missing second half of the film deals with Margaret's transportation to New South Wales for horse stealing after Will is killed, and her subsequent good works in Australia and reunion with Barry. -- General notes: Shot on location around Sydney, the film shows the early development of Lyell as a screen actress, with her riding of Spencer's dapple grey horse Arno, a feature of the surviving footage. In an interview from 1913, Lyell described one of her stunt scenes in the film (now lost) "I had in the depth of winter to jump into the water from a cliff 30 feet high, and then swim some distance out of range of the camera. I had to do this handicapped by old period masculine attire".  Longford went on to direct Lyell in all their other films together. Longford appears on screen as well as directing. The film was well reviewed and did well commercially when it opened at Spencer's Lyceum Theatre in Sydney on 7 August 1911.
Originally 3000 feet, surviving 1596 feet (35mm, 24 mins @ 18fps).
Access copies: 35mm, 16mm, video.

Director:
Raymond Longford