Caddie (1976) was a breakthrough feature in the Australian film renaissance of the 1970s. Highly successful with critics and audiences, it was also one of the few films of the time to focus on telling a woman’s story.
The autobiographical novel the film is based on, Caddie, a Sydney Barmaid (1953), was published through the intervention of writers Dymphna Cusack and Florence James. Cusack and James had employed Catherine ‘Caddie’ Edmonds as a housekeeper. Over time Edmonds revealed the story of her extraordinary life, particularly what it was like for women in the early 1920s and 30s, raising two children by herself during the Depression. Nurtured by Cusack and James, Edmonds taught herself to type and finished the seventh draft of her autobiography in 1952.
By chance, editor and film producer Tony Buckley came across Edmonds’ novel and couldn’t put it down. Buckley had edited Age of Consent (1969) and Wake in Fright (1971) but had not produced a feature before. He wanted to adapt the novel as a film and approached scriptwriter Joan Long – the second woman ever to direct films for the Commonwealth Film Unit. Donald Crombie was then hired to direct and Helen Morse auditioned for the central role of Caddie.
This is the first in a two-part series. Read Part Two.