The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has published Sir Donald Bradman's only ever movie appearance, in the 1936 melodrama The Flying Doctor, to coincide with the 83rd anniversary of 'The Don' shooting the scene. It is available on the NFSA website.
In the film, Bradman is seen batting for South Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He then has one line of dialogue, which he delivers shirtless! It was the first scene shot for the movie, on 22 January 1936.
NFSA Film Curator Jeff Wray said: ‘The Flying Doctor footage of Don Bradman is unique in that they are images of this iconic Australian which haven’t been seen for 80 years and show him in a little known episode of his life – acting in a feature film.’
The Flying Doctor was an Australia-UK production, directed by Miles Mander and starring Hollywood star Charles Farrell and British-born, Australia-based actor James Raglan. The plot follows a flying doctor (Raglan) who meets a blind man (Farrell) on the outback and learns his story. In addition to Bradman's cameo, it also featured wrestler Tom Zubrinki.
The Flying Doctor was believed to be a lost film for decades, but around 1970 an almost complete copy was rescued from the back of a truck as it was headed for the tip. The truck was full of film cans cleared out from a demolished studio in Lane Cove, Sydney. It attracted the attention of a local council employee, who chased the truck and prevented the destruction of the film.
The print was donated to the NFSA's predecessor, the National Film Archive at the National Library of Australia. The missing footage was later found at the National Film Archive in London.
Two clips featuring Bradman’s cameo, as well as a detailed story of the film and its recovery, are available on the NFSA website: http://bit.ly/NFSADonBradmanMovieCameo.
For more information, or interviews with NFSA Film Curator Jeff Wray, please contact National Media Manager Miguel Gonzalez, (02) 8202 0114, 0404 281 632 or Miguel.gonzalez [at] nfsa.gov.au.