For release of The Far Paradise (1928)
BY MEL BONDFIELD
The NFSA holds in its collection a rare scrapbook that was created by the McDonagh sisters to document the release and response to their feature film, The Far Paradise (1928).
The Far Paradise was the second of three silent feature films made by MCD Productions, the pioneering film production team of Isabel, Phyllis and Paulette McDonagh – three sisters from Sydney's inner west.
The 48-page scrapbook contains articles and profiles of the three sisters, plus movie reviews from some of the most respected publications of the day, cinema advertisements for the film, invitation cards to the premiere screening and some elaborate hand-drawn and painted artwork featuring Isabel McDonagh, as seen in the main image above.
The Far Paradise is a classic romance centred around Cherry Carson (Isabel McDonagh, billed as Marie Lorraine) and Peter Lawton (Paul Longuet) who are driven apart by family loyalties and meddling by Cherry's father (Gaston Mervale), who has a shady business past.
'Clever McDonaghs Score Again'
The Far Paradise was received very favourably, and hailed a success, by most local critics.
The Film Weekly praised the 'highly capable acting ... careful direction and first-class photography'. The Sunday Times noted the expert lighting and make-up, and The Sun declared that the McDonaghs had produced 'a thoroughly convincing and really entertaining screen play'.
Below you'll find a selection of newspaper clippings from the scrapbook featuring reviews of The Far Paradise:
'The Glamour of Romance'
Included in the sisters' scrapbook are a number of original newspaper advertisements from various theatres screening The Far Paradise.
As you'll see from the images below, there was much hype around the film on its release. It was dubbed 'Australia's greatest movie' in an advertisement for The Regent, while Hoyts promised audiences that the film 'holds the spectator enthralled from start to finish':
A Pioneering Trio
While most of the scrapbook pages are dedicated to The Far Paradise, it also contains some newspaper profiles of the three sisters plus reviews of their first feature film, Those Who Love (1926).
The McDonagh sisters are regularly described as pioneers of Australian film and trailblazers for women in a heavily male-dominated industry. Their films helped change attitudes about how Australian films should look and the type of stories we tell on screen.