Prurient Exuberance: Early Australian Sex Hygiene Films and the Origins of Ozploitation

Australian exploitation films that were made since the 1960s have received considerable attention in Mark Hartley’s 2008 documentary, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! However, Hartley’s film and much of the subsequent interest in Ozploitation overlooks the fact that exploitation films existed in Australia since at least the 1910s. In its most basic definition, an exploitation film centres on a topic that is forbidden, such as sex or vice, while purporting to educate the public about it. This article examines the significance of two early Australian sex hygiene films, Remorse, a Story of the Red Plague (John E. Mathews, 1917) [1] and Should a Doctor Tell? (P. J. Ramster, 1923). Although these films do not survive, the information available about them reveals affinities with contemporaneous American and British exploitation films. They also form a precedent for the role of exploitation in the revival of the Australian film industry in the early 1970s. Purporting to explore the issue of sexually-transmitted disease while appealing to audience prurience, early sex hygiene films courted controversy in a manner that prefigures The Naked Bunyip: A Survey of Sex in Australia (John B. Murray, 1970), a significant early film in the revival and one of a cycle of local sexploitation films. Early Australian sex hygiene films expand understanding of Ozploitation by providing a glimpse of the diversity of early Australian film-making and forming a precedent for the role of exploitation in the development of Australian film.

The origins of Australian exploitation film are relevant in light of the interest in Ozploitation, a term popularised in Not Quite Hollywood and equated with a loose collection of Australian films of the 1970s onwards that place sensational emphasis on such subject matter as violence, profanity, nudity and sex. However, Deborah Thomas, Adrian Martin and Mark David Ryan have highlighted the imprecision of the use of the term in Not Quite Hollywood. For instance, Ryan identifies the scope of Ozploitation as being inordinately heterogeneous, encompassing experimental, generic and exploitation films, whereas Martin notes the inexplicable omission of such films as Body Melt (Philip Brophy, 1994) and Pure Shit (Bert Deling, 1975). [2] Thomas observes that although Not Quite Hollywood stretches “the parameters” of “marginal, ‘trashy’” film-making, it can be credited with a “rebranding of Australian genre cinema” that “effectively yokes ‘Australian film’ to the international cinematic style of ‘exploitation’”. [3] Indeed, Not Quite Hollywood has succeeded more in generating debate about Australian films than in defining Ozploitation. This achievement is consistent with Carol Laseur’s comment that Australian exploitation film provokes controversy by implicitly confronting “competing discourses within a film industry where the commercial prospects of a product are always inversely conflicting with its claims to cultural value”. [4] While the reframing of Australian films as exploitation in Not Quite Hollywood contributes to understanding an area of market-driven local film-making, a more specific definition of exploitation is required. The relationship between Ozploitation and the larger tradition can be understood by looking to the international origins of exploitation film.

In “Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!” A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959, Eric Schaefer defines the exploitation film as a work that seeks to address “a ‘forbidden’ topic”, of which the most common were “sex and sex hygiene, prostitution and vice, drug use [and] nudity”, where the forbidden was defined by a mechanism such as censorship. [5] Focusing mainly on American exploitation film, Schaefer identifies its purest form as the “classical exploitation film” of the decades from the 1930s to the 1950s. [6] The classical exploitation film set out to address a banned topic, and was likely to be cheaply made, independently produced and distributed; it differed from pornography in having a capacity to appeal to both sexes and an expressed goal of educating audiences about such matters as white slavery and sexually transmitted disease. [7] Schaefer identifies these films’ origins in American “sex hygiene” films of the 1910 that centre on the topic of sexually-transmitted disease, particularly syphilis and gonorrhoea, and include Damaged Goods (1914, Tom Ricketts, USA), The Spreading Evil (James Keane, 1918, USA) and The Scarlet Trail (John S. Lawrence, 1918, USA). [8] Produced before the American film industry was dominated by vertically-integrated studios from the 1920s to the 1950s, these films were paralleled by British and Australian films about sexually-transmitted disease.

Australia produced two early sex hygiene feature films. Of these, Remorse was a product of the most prolific decade for local feature films. Its release in 1917 occurred soon after the largest local film company, Australasian Films, ceased production to concentrate on distributing imported films, before the effects of this “lost opportunity” saw the Australian industry relegated to a “satellite” of Hollywood. [9] By 1923, the second film, Should a Doctor Tell?, appeared in a less favourable climate in which Hollywood’s international dominance had increased to the extent of prompting “threats of federal government intervention to protect” the local industry. [10] Nevertheless, the 1920s were a relatively prolific period for independent local production, before the inception of talking films rendered film-making too expensive and technically complex for most independent producers. The years of these sex hygiene films are also significant for involving increased debate about whether local films should “speak of whatever may be specific to Australia or only of what might have ‘universal appeal’”, write Ina Bertrand and William D. Routt. [11] These early Australian films are international to the extent that they have affinities with sex hygiene films from abroad.

Australian sex hygiene films are linked to the limited availability of information about sexual topics. In her history of Australian book censorship, Nicole Moore argues that suppression of publications about sex effectively limited the information available on the topic. [12] By contrast, the cinema from its early years will be seen to broach a range of salacious subject matter. Early exploitation films can be considered in relation to Michel Foucault’s argument in The History of Sexuality that the period from the seventeenth century onwards was “an age of repression”, in which sex was not spoken about widely but limited to particular social spheres and relationships. [13] The same period saw a “proliferation of discourses concerned with sex” that transformed “sex into discourse”. [14] Far from being repressed into scarcity, Foucault argues, sexual discourse became part of a social machinery that involved a “policing of sex: that is, not the rigor of a taboo, but the necessity of regulating sex through useful and public discourses.” [15] In her history of pornography and prostitution in Australia, Barbara Sullivan explores how debates about forms of regulation, including censorship, reflect wider social values. She is critical of “sexual essentialist frameworks” that give rise to stances such as libertarianism, the view that “legal, cultural or institutional factors which prohibit or otherwise regulate access to pornography and prostitution can be represented as instruments of ‘sexual repression’”. [16] Drawing on the ideas of Foucault, Sullivan argues that laws “might be repressive, but they are also productive – of new pleasures, discourses, and political and cultural forms”. [17] Similarly, early sex hygiene films can be seen to expand the range of subject matter in Australian film while contributing to public discourse about controversial topics and censorship. Situated at the boundaries of what was considered acceptable on local screens, these films addressed sexual topics that were not often discussed openly and fuelled popular debates that attracted audiences, while also policing social behaviour in ways that are typical of exploitation films.

Early Exploitation Films from Abroad
By the 1910s, Australia formed part of the international market for exploitation films. Local audiences were exposed to early American films that exploited such topics as the “evil of drink”, vice and female destruction, including Ten nights in a bar-room (Timothy Shay Arthur, 1910), Where the Road Divides (Siegmund Lubin, 1910) and Traffic in Souls (George Loane Tucker, 1913). [18] Kathleen Karr argues that these function as exploitation films by drawing sensational subject matter from melodrama and vaudeville theatre, [19] in a period in which films were not yet subject to widespread or consistent censorship. Australians also displayed considerable interest in dramatised stories about venereal disease. By the time the 1914 American film Damaged Goods was released locally in 1919, for example, public interest had been fuelled by the staging of the play from which it was adapted, Eugene Brieux’s Les Avaries (1901). [20] That these films were exhibited in various Australian states parallels Schaefer’s argument that exploitation film was part of the “mainstream” of American cinema until 1919. [21]

During the 1910s, a number of films made in Australia, as in other countries, had sensational subject matter. In her history of film censorship in Australia, Ina Bertrand writes that censorship was “informal” and applied on a case-by-case basis until 1912, after which New South Wales and then other states introduced censorship legislation. [22] However, most of the films that were controversial in Australia during the 1910s and 1920s were imported. The government believed “it was imported films that were objectionable, and that customs powers were the most appropriate to use against them”; no law existed that required local productions to be passed by a censor, but producers usually opted to submit their films for approval. [23] The main exceptions to the relative lack of censorship of local productions were films about bushrangers, which were banned by the New South Wales Police from 1912 until after the Second World War. [24] Otherwise, local filmmakers had some freedom to appeal to audiences’ interest in the salacious and the morbid. For instance, themes of early Australian films that typify the subject matter of exploitation films include the drug trade (The Opium Runners, director unknown, 1913), female destruction through vice (Driving a Girl to Destruction, George Marlow, 1911) and horrific murders (What Women Suffer, Alfred Rolfe, 1911). Similarly, Ina Bertrand and William D. Routt identify director Beaumont Smith as an early proponent of what would become known as exploitation film-making. [25] In Australia as in other countries, early films included sensational subject matter.

The frequent lack of attention to exploitation film in Australian history can be attributed partly to the absence of a pronounced division between local mainstream and exploitation film-making. In the United States, by contrast, exploitation film became a separate industry that paralleled the Hollywood mainstream after the release of three sex hygiene films produced by the War Department: Fit to Fight (Edward H. Griffith, 1918, USA), Fit to Win (Edward H. Griffith, 1919, USA) and The End of the Road (Edward H. Griffith, 1918, USA). These propaganda films provoked unprecedented controversy in the United States that led to the escalation of censorship, culminating in Hollywood’s self-regulation through the Production Code and the stigmatisation of exploitation films as disreputable works that were excluded from studio-owned theatres. [26] The British Board of Film Censors took a similar stance in 1919, because of the proliferation of sex hygiene films, by introducing a “policy of withholding certificates from all propaganda features” on the ground that films combining education and entertainment were not suitable for general audiences. [27] By contrast, in Australia no decisive measure resulted in a clear division of mainstream and exploitation film-making. Australia also has no continuous tradition equivalent to classical exploitation film. While reflecting the content of imported works, Australian exploitation films about sexual themes can be linked to local developments in censorship and production.

Remorse, a Story of the Red Plague
Central to the early history of Australian exploitation film is Remorse, a Story of the Red Plague. The film combines international and local elements through being directed by an American, J. E. Mathews, for his company, the Mathews Photoplay Company, while being produced locally and promoted as “the first drama produced in Adelaide”. [28] The narrative centres on Jack Rundle, a squatter’s son who travels to the city and lives a hedonistic life until he realises that he has contracted syphilis, whereupon he returns home and is rejected by his father, loses his fiancée and commits suicide by shooting himself. [29] Remorse has the distinction of being one of the first Australian films to attract attention from censors. It was released in a period in which local censorship was applied on a case-by-case basis, often inconsistently, and preceded the establishment of the Commonwealth Censorship Board in 1917. [30] This was “the only” Australian film of the period that tackled the topic of venereal disease, writes Ina Bertrand, and the New South Wales censor initially recommended its prohibition. [31] An inspector had reported “in lurid detail on scenes exposing the hero’s arms covered with ‘syphilitic excrescences’ and similar sores on the breasts of a prostitute”. [32] This description suggests that the film may have incorporated documentary footage. The combining of documentary and fiction in social hygiene films of the late 1910s was controversial in the United States and Britain because it did not fit clearly within the emergent norm of the cinema as “a leisure industry” centring on feature-length fiction films. [33] Although this debate was less prominent in Australia, the censors’ handling of Remorse reflects that the film’s purpose received attention. After the distributor defended the film on the ground that it was “looked on by the Medical Profession and the public […] as a moral lesson”, Remorse was passed on the condition that it be shown only to audiences over sixteen years of age, forming a precedent for later films with similar themes. [34]

Remorse advertisement from National Film and Sound Archive

Remorse had affinities with early American exploitation films, which were characterised by a “promise of titillation”, a “professed educational mission”, “topicality” and the “construction of a social Other”. [35] The promise of titillation is identified in Remorse by film historian Dylan Walker, who states that its “hint of pornography” was what drew audiences. [36] Indeed, advertisements billed Remorse as “The Sensational Local Production” and “A Sledge-Hammer Blow at a Terrible Evil”, while warnings in bold print that people under sixteen would not be admitted were surely an attraction for the curious. [37] A purported goal to educate the public was evident in advertisements that described the film as “the greatest moral lesson conceivable” and “A Picture Every One Should See [sic]”. [38] The film identified the social Other with what a reviewer described as “the artificial life of city society, where men and women are vultures and nothing seems real and true”. [39] The portrayal of the city as a locus of unrestrained hedonism and decadence is consistent with Annette Kuhn’s observation that contemporaneous American and British sex hygiene films “construct characters not as psychologically-rounded individuals, but as representatives […] of moral positions”. [40] For instance, wartime American sex hygiene films promoted “bodily health, moral purity and fighting fitness” for male characters, while advocating for women “prevention not so much of infection as of sexual activity itself”. [41] This is echoed in a reviewer’s assertion that Remorse “impresses its lesson by the boldness of its contrasts”, such as that between the “beautiful country girl” that the protagonist leaves behind and the unspecified city people “who are only too willing to make use of him for their selfish purposes”. [42] In these ways, Remorse is an Australian counterpart to imported sex hygiene films.

The film was topical in a period in which venereal disease was of increasing concern in Australia, where the staging of Les Avaries had been endorsed by medical and other authorities. [43] Venereal disease had been identified as a problem in Australia since the late nineteenth century, when it was linked to prostitution, the colonial armed forces and immigration. [44] In the 1880s, an Australian counterpart to the American “social purity” movement was led by South Australian clergyman Rev. J. C. Kirby and involved leading clerical, political and medical figures. This conservative movement opposed state regulation of prostitution in favour of its suppression, protection of females from trafficking, and increased male culpability for illegitimate children and promiscuity. [45] Having affinities with the American progressive movement while placing less emphasis than the latter on “social engineering”, the influence of the social purity movement continued to be evident in Australia during the 1910s. [46] Attempts to educate the public about the “red plague” included lectures on the topic, often illustrated and presented to audiences segregated by sex. [47] In this context, Remorse appealed to the public’s anxieties about modern life, fuelled by religious doctrine that linked the city to the “evil” of syphilis. [48] The positioning of the city as Other was also evident in foreign exploitation films, in which Schaefer identifies conservative responses to “tensions between the older economic system rooted in the ideology of productivity and the developing consumer-based economy”, including fears associated with industrialisation, urbanisation and a “culture of abundance driven by individual desire”. [49] At the same time, in Remorse the association of syphilis with urban life resonates with a thematic opposition between the city and the bush that was commonly evident in Australian narratives.

Remorse both reflects the idealisation of the bush and suggests its tenuousness. The opposition between the bush and the city is fundamental to the Australian legend, defined by Russel Ward as the idea that the “Australian spirit” derives from “the isolated, ordinary people of the bush” and identified by John Tulloch in such films as Franklyn Barrett’s The Breaking of the Drought (1920) and A Girl of the Bush (1921). [50] A reviewer’s description of the cattle station in Remorse as a place “where men and women live in close communion with Nature” is consistent with the idealisation of the bush as an “organic, anti-divisive community”. [51] Although the association of venereal disease with a rural youth’s exposure to the city was also evident in imported films, such as Fit to Fight, it was not necessarily emphasised abroad. However, Remorse had in common with American War Department films a function as propaganda during the Great War. The Australian press linked the film to the fact that venereal disease was “responsible for a substantial amount of morbidity” in the war. [52] For example, the Adelaide Advertiser praised Remorse for its educational function in light of reports from London that the “red plague” was exacerbated by “the presence of so many soldiers there on furlough, a large proportion of them unsuspecting lads from quiet towns, villages, farms, and stations in the remote parts of the Empire”. [53] That rural men at home also required education is evidenced in the film’s distribution, which included a “special” daytime screening in Broken Hill for “the convenience of afternoon shift men”. [54] Consistent with the presence of syphilis in Russel Ward’s account of nineteenth-century bush life, [55] the film’s narrative reveals that rural people are no less susceptible to the problem than the city is. In the protagonist’s suicide, Remorse offers a bleak view of, if not a corrective to, early Australian films’ propensity to disavow that “promiscuity, gambling and larceny were extraordinarily rife in the country”. [56] The capacity for the public discourse of silent cinema to reinforce existing socio-geographic tensions while expanding the subject matter of local films is exemplified in the crisis of rural life in Remorse.

Remorse advertisement from The Mail – 30th December 1916

The public’s embrace of Remorse indicates that the exploitation film’s appeal to prurience coexisted with support for local film. In South Australia, in particular, Remorse received considerable publicity for being a local production and its popularity was celebrated in a manner that seems ironic in light of the film’s controversial subject matter and maudlin plot trajectory. The local press expressed warm enthusiasm for this film by “Adelaide’s first photo-play company” and relegated to secondary significance the issue of whether “the cinematograph is a fitting medium for the education of the people on sex subjects and the grave dangers of the immoral life”. [57] Of great interest to South Australian audiences was the film’s inclusion of local scenery, in relation to which some reviews presented the sexual topic as secondary. [58] Long before the film’s premiere at the Wondergraph Theatre in Adelaide, “a ‘full house’ was announced by the management […] and a motor service had to be run to accommodate the overflow at the North terrace [sic] open-air theatre, where a crowded house was also in order.” [59] The film was later reported to have “excited” so “much interest” during its season in the city that “hundreds were unable to gain admission”. [60] Remorse also played to full houses in regional South Australia and in regional towns and capitals in most other states. [61] In contrast to the widespread approval of the film upon its release, however, Remorse has received relatively little attention in histories of Australian film. It is significant as an early Australian film about a sexual topic that challenged censors and reflects that Australia was abreast of early international developments in exploitation film, fitting “comfortably, both industrially and ideologically, into a world film market”. [62]

Although the success of Remorse was not followed by a local suppression of exploitation films as occurred abroad, nor did it lead to a proliferation of Australian films about similar topics. Indeed, the small size and struggling state of the local film industry after the 1910s was unlikely to accommodate a sizeable or separate exploitation film industry. Instead, the appearance of a second Australian sex hygiene film several years later provides evidence that local exploitation filmmakers were part of the mainstream local industry.

Should a Doctor Tell?
The reception of Should a Doctor Tell? suggests that the 1920s were almost as favourable as the previous decade for opportunistic local film makers with an interest in the sensational. This film was directed by an established Australian director, P. J. (Percy John) Ramster, for his company, P. J. Ramster Photoplays. As the title suggests, it centres on the issue of whether a doctor should disclose his knowledge of a patient’s venereal disease to a third party for the purpose of preventing further infection and social disgrace. The narrative is described as “unabashed Victorian melodrama” and involves a doctor who is bribed by a patient, Count Delvo, to conceal the latter’s venereal disease from the Count’s fiancée; it offers “the vision of a crippled child” as a warning of the “inevitable” outcome of the marriage and has a denouement in which the doctor reveals the truth. [63] Should a Doctor Tell? exploits two issues that were controversial in this period: venereal disease and doctor-patient confidentiality. The latter had been a focus of debate in Britain and Australia, where press articles explored the question of whether the social problem of syphilis was sufficient justification for violating doctor-patient confidentiality, an issue likened to the “secrecy of the confessional”, another topic of perennial salacious interest. [64] Distributed “widely” in Australian states, where it screened at such venues as Union Theatres in Sydney and the Grand Theatre in Adelaide, Should a Doctor Tell? was also released in New Zealand. [65] A measure of the exploitation film’s prurient appeal may be found in Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper’s estimation that this was “possibly the most commercially successful” of Ramster’s films. [66]

The film was advertised in the mainstream press in a manner typical of exploitation films. Publicity for Should a Doctor Tell? implied medical approval, revealing that nurses had attended a screening. [67] A serious purpose was also suggested in advertisements that highlighted the moral question of whether a doctor should “break convention and reveal the truth” to prevent “tragedy”. [68] The film was praised in reviews for its “masterly” handling of an “important problem”, for dealing with “a most delicate subject in a most delicate manner” and for its “clean and wholesome” treatment of an “ever-burning question”. [69] At the same time, an appeal to titillation is evident in responses to Should a Doctor Tell? as a “problem pic” that excited “[u]nusual interest” and “caused a controversy” among the public. [70] The Rialto Theatre in Sydney exploited the issue of doctor-patient confidentiality by offering a prize for the best letter that put forward a solution to “the problem” in the film. [71] Pike and Cooper observe that the promotion of Should a Doctor Tell? displayed “the same prurient exuberance that other filmmakers had brought to social problems in Remorse […] and Know Thy Child [Franklyn Barrett, 1921]”, of which the latter suggested the theme of incest. [72] Indeed, this appeal was openly acknowledged at the time of the film’s release when a Sydney newspaper commented that “[p]roblem pictures are always attractive, but none more so than Should A Doctor Tell?[73] At the same time, the public discourse around the film seems to have been limited to the controversy of the question raised in the title, lacking a larger social perspective of who or what might be to blame, such as the earlier recognition that Remorse addressed a geographic and wartime problem.

Should a Doctor Tell –
image from Sunday Times NSW – 19th August 1920 p. 18

Typifying a contradiction of exploitation, the limitations of the discourse around the film are juxtaposed with the centrality of knowledge within it. Should a Doctor Tell? has in common with other sex hygiene films a theme of knowledge and the identification of a social Other as the cause of the problem disclosed in the film. As in the British version of Damaged Goods (Alexander Butler, 1919, UK), for example, a marriage to a partner with a disease is central to the plot and a doctor plays a “crucial” role in remedying a “lack of knowledge” around which the narrative is constructed. [74] The moral overtones of Should a Doctor Tell? are over-determined by the narrative’s inclusion of two doctors: the Count’s physician and his fiancée’s father. The Other is the Count, who is depicted as having a history of “dissipation”. [75] His title implies a European background and a privileged class identity that the film positions as incompatible with marriage and, by extension, family life. In particular, the demonisation of the Count is reinforced in the denouement of Should a Doctor Tell? when he shoots his doctor and is arrested. [76] The positioning of the Count as Other is consistent with the currency of the White Australia immigration policy. In response to its vulnerability during the Great War, Australia had increased immigration during the 1920s with a goal of receiving more Britons, but turned away people from Asia and most European countries. [77] The film’s geographic setting is unknown, perhaps exemplifying a propensity among Australian films of the period to efface “almost all marks of their country of origin”. [78] An international frame of reference is evident in echoes of the controversial social philosophy of eugenics, when the film contrasts the Count’s nefarious pursuit of marriage with the restraint of his doctor, who also loves the woman but “has inherited consumption”. [79] Through positioning the ethnic and class Other as threatening “the integrity of the family”, Should a Doctor Tell? reflects the tendency for sex hygiene films to depart “from the characteristic ‘family romance’ of mainstream silent cinema”. [80] The film thus contrasts with American sex hygiene films that present sexual intercourse with lower-class people as a problem. [81]

Significantly, Should a Doctor Tell? was not banned, despite being linked to a cycle of “serious sex films” that included Fit to Win and The End of the Road. [82] Films about “venereal disease, abortion, contraception, white slavery, and prostitution” were controversial, notes Bertrand, but were banned only if they offered “no relevant moral lesson”; those about venereal disease were “more severely treated”. [83] Local sex hygiene films may have benefited from being in a genre that was not distinctively Australian, escaping the degree of controversy that surrounded films about bushranging or Australia’s convict past. Whereas For the Term of His Natural Life (Norman Dawn, 1927), led to increased regulation of local films for export that might reflect negatively on Britain, [84] neither Should a Doctor Tell? nor Remorse was accused of reflecting on a nation. Censors’ decisions may also reflect that Australian sex hygiene films differed from imported works. For instance, Annette Kuhn reveals that the British version of Damaged Goods was less controversial in Britain than American sex hygiene films were, attributing this to protection of the local industry and the fact that the film did not include images of syphilis, which viewers found confronting in some American films; however, the British version was criticised for its lack of cinematic qualities. [85] That Should a Doctor Tell? also differed cinematically from American films is suggested by the South Australian censor’s view that it was “below the standard of production desirable in the public interest”. [86] Whether the film presented graphic images is unclear, given that it included a “vision of a crippled child” but was praised for “a certain restraint which has eliminated nauseating details”. [87] In contrast to the controversy with which the American film of Damaged Goods met in Melbourne, [88] Should a Doctor Tell? was praised for being a local film. For instance, it was described as a “very fine Australian production”. [89] Lauded by one commentator for including “much of the best in American production”, the film was positioned by another as an answer to concern that “Australian pictures should receive more attention”. [90] Indeed, Should a Doctor Tell? benefited from its controversial topic without being banned.

That Australian exploitation films are part of mainstream local cinema is exemplified by the career of director P. J. Ramster, even though his subsequent films include suggestive titles, The Rev. Dell’s Secret (1924) and Should a Girl Propose? (1926), that could be attached to exploitation films and may emulate the controversy surrounding Should a Doctor Tell?. By 1925, P. J. Ramster Photoplays was one of the “more established” local film companies and the director used his prominence to support the local industry by calling for a government quota requiring exhibitors to screen a percentage of Australian films. [91] Whereas American “exploiteers kept fairly low profiles” because “little” was “to be gained by notoriety”, [92] Ramster’s career reflects a more contradictory combination of prominence and low critical regard. His career trajectory suggests that notoriety was not necessarily a disadvantage in the struggling Australian industry. As well as directing six feature films in the years from 1921 to 1928, Ramster ran a film school of which the students included Paulette McDonagh. The latter subsequently became a film director and, with her sisters Isabel and Phyllis, formed a film-making team that produced four feature films and several documentaries, work that was “well accepted in their own time” and positioned the sisters among “the more significant Australian film-makers”. [93] Ramster’s somewhat disreputable significance in Australian film stems partly from his demotion from the role of director on the McDonaghs’ first film, Those who Love (1926). A view that his skills were considerably inferior to those of Paulette McDonagh is exemplified in Ross Cooper’s description of Ramster as “a third-rate socialite director” and John Tulloch’s observation that “film historians seem eager to dissociate” the McDonaghs from him. [94] P. J. Ramster is thus situated at the inglorious periphery of celebrated achievements in Australian film. Receiving more attention for its connotations of the disreputable than for its achievements in film-making, Should a Doctor Tell? exemplifies the significance of exploitation films in the early Australian film industry.

Australian sex hygiene films of the 1910s and 1920s expanded the range of subject matter in local films and provide insight into the close relationship between local mainstream and exploitation film-making. These films’ popularity contrasts with the prevailing view, expressed by William D. Routt, that Australian film before the late 1940s was “remarkably wholesome”, including “few crime stories or stories about fallen women […] and certainly no films that depict such matters with relish. The wowsers were running things”. [95] The receptions of Remorse and Should a Doctor Tell? suggest that these films may have depicted sexual topics with relish. More consistent with Routt’s argument is the dearth of Australian exploitation films in the years from the 1930s to the 1960s, a period of low production for local feature films in general. By contrast, the role of exploitation in the industry’s subsequent revival forms part of a larger history of Australian films about controversial sexual topics that had commenced with sex hygiene films.

From Sex Hygiene to Sexploitation
Remorse and Should a Doctor Tell? prefigure a proliferation in the 1970s of Australian films that impart knowledge about sexual matters. Of particular significance is a film central to the first years of the industry’s revival, The Naked Bunyip: A Survey of Sex in Australia. The latter uses a combination of documentary and fictional content to address such topics as pornography, abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, transgenderism and prostitution. While The Naked Bunyip will be shown to have broad affinities with the early films, it also reflects exploitation film’s shift away from social and medical problems and towards questions of freedom. Promoted as “the first serious study of sex in Australia (in a funny sort of way)”, The Naked Bunyip both evokes traditions of social and scientific discourse about sexuality and effaces these through humour. The film aligns itself with the “permissive society” and reflects the increased privileging of “sexual pleasure and sexual freedom” in the sexual revolution of the late 1950s and the 1960s, shaped by ideas emerging from such areas as sexology, left-wing politics and youth culture. [96] For example, the relative lack of concern about venereal disease in The Naked Bunyip contrasts with early sex hygiene films. Whereas the seriousness of the problem of syphilis is strongly evident in press reports of the 1910s and 1920s, The Naked Bunyip reflects a more carefree stance in a period in which syphilis could be treated and the AIDS epidemic had not yet occurred. The only potential consequence of sex that is presented as life-threatening in The Naked Bunyip is unsafe abortion. Indeed, the legacy of earlier films that advocated for women the “prevention […] of sexual activity itself” [97] is echoed in The Naked Bunyip in an emphasis on aspects of female sexuality that were still not widely understood. Having in common with the earlier films a focus on controversial subject matter, The Naked Bunyip was even more influential in the local industry. Among those influenced by the film was John D. Lamond, who became an exploitation film producer and director after being “enthused” by regional audiences to whom he exhibited the film, recalls John B. Murray. [98]

Lamond’s work includes two documentaries that can be situated in the same cycle as The Naked Bunyip: Australia After Dark (1975) and The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style [sic] (1978). Australia After Dark is a quasi-anthropological travelogue about contemporary Australian lifestyles, echoing the Italian exploitation genre of “shockumentary” films, such as Mondo Cane [A Dog’s World] (Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco Prosperi, 1962, Italy). In contrast to Mondo Cane, the depiction of perversion in Australia After Dark does not encompass Indigenous people, only non-Indigenous Australians. Indeed, Lamond’s film is both contradictory and incoherent in juxtaposing lascivious depictions of naked, white female bodies with sober expository sequences about Indigenous art and health problems in Arnhem Land. Less critical of its subject matter than shockumentary films are, Australia After Dark nonetheless has in common with the latter the use of voice-of-God narration to subject “thriving cultures of Western capitalism […] to the cinematic gaze” in a manner traditionally reserved for Indigenous cultures. [99] The ABC of Love and Sex presents itself as a sex education film, using voice-of-God narration and a Swedish sexologist to promote sexual freedom. It incorporates scenes depicting sexual activities with a degree of relish that takes the film into the realm of pornography. The cycle moved even further away from serious documentary in Fantasm (Richard Franklin, 1976), a mockumentary about sexual fantasy that features prominent American pornographic film stars. In Not Quite Hollywood, the producer of Fantasm, Antony I. Ginnane, situates these films within mainstream cinema at “a brief moment […] where middle-class, mixed couples wanted to see nudity and sex on the screen”. Made by private companies during the early years of Australian government funding for films, these works have in common with early sex hygiene films an association with independent producers who embraced controversial topics with a determination to expand the sexual content of local films.

Dubbed Ozploitation in Not Quite Hollywood, The Naked Bunyip and The ABC of Love and Sex can also be linked to the international genre of “sexploitation”, a subcategory of exploitation films that is considered to have commenced with The Immoral Mr Teas (Russ Meyer, 1959, USA). [100] Eric Schaefer defines sexploitation as “exploitation movies that focused on nudity, sexual situations, and simulated […] sex acts, designed for titillation and entertainment”. [101] In an analysis of British sexploitation, Leon Hunt identifies many of the films as “pseudo-documentaries”, characterised by “a multiple narrative”, a unifying theme such as adultery or prostitution, and “a narrator, storyteller or ‘expert’” commentator. [102] Contemporaneous with British and American developments, Australian sexploitation films can be linked to a shared consumer culture that “expanded the acceptable sphere of desire” and enabled “growing recognition of the desire of women, younger people, and those deemed to be in some way ‘deviant’.” [103] Although the inception of Australian exploitation is identified with a multi-plotted narrative film, The Set (Frank Brittain, 1970), [104] the cycle of documentaries that commences with The Naked Bunyip has greater affinity with early sex hygiene films by virtue of their focus on issues. Sexploitation is distinguished from earlier exploitation films by emerging from a “changed moral climate” in which films “no longer required explicit educational justification for presenting sexual spectacle on the screen”, writes Schaefer, but “they often made claims of social or artistic merit as a strategy for legal protection”. [105] The Naked Bunyip became the first in a series of local sexploitation films that combine documentary elements with controversial sexual content.

The Naked Bunyip has in common with Remorse and Should a Doctor Tell? the fact that it was released during a transitional period in Australian censorship. Whereas the early sex hygiene films were made before the inception of the Production Code required that films be suitable for all ages, The Naked Bunyip was released after its demise. These films were made in periods in which Australian censors were unaccustomed to local films with controversial sexual content. When The Naked Bunyip was completed in mid-1970, notes Murray, the Commonwealth Film Censor Board had not yet “fully thought out” its approach to local films, which were few in number, rarely exhibited and thought unlikely to “require the attention of the censor”. During the transitional period of 1970 and 1971, Australian censorship underwent reform, led by the Minister for Customs and Excise, Don Chipp, which culminated in the implementation of a film classification system that included the “R” rating. This represented a shift of censorship policy from making decisions “by reference to the concept of obscenity” to “the more flexible entity of community standards”. [106] Both The Naked Bunyip and Remorse are significant as local films about sexual topics that were released to audiences restricted by age and formed precedents for later censorship decisions. Preceding the R rating, The Naked Bunyip was eventually released while being deemed suitable only for adults, after a controversy that is examined below. The film’s content and the censors’ decision generated publicity that was a significant influence on the reform of Australian censorship.[107] Like the earlier films, The Naked Bunyip challenged censorship by addressing controversial sexual subject matter.

In a manner that typifies exploitation films, The Naked Bunyip combines a goal to educate with a fictional narrative framework. The majority of the film’s content is documentary, consisting of interviews and observational footage that includes a life-drawing class, sex shows and a human birth. This material is framed by a comedic narrative about a fictional market researcher named Graeme (Graeme Blundell), who is assigned to investigate the topic of sex in Australia. Echoing the use of comedy in British sexploitation, [108] Graeme’s scenes in The Naked Bunyip exemplify the exploitation film’s juxtaposing of an observer or commentator with the use of spectacle to appeal to prurience. For instance, the title sequence opens with Graeme perusing store displays of sex-themed toys, underwear and sex shows, but soon reveals that he is preoccupied with sex rather than being the detached observer his employer requires. Sexual repression is comically highlighted in Graeme’s internal monologue, conveyed in voice-over, which reveals him to be a sexually naïve virgin. The film also implicates the spectator in Graeme’s surreptitious meditations through offering point-of-view shots of women’s buttocks and legs in tight pants and mini-skirts. While these sequences may seem remote from early sex hygiene films, The Naked Bunyip pays homage to early pornographic motion pictures in a later sequence in which Graeme watches a peep show on a mutoscope at Luna Park. The peep show centres on the spectacle of a young woman clad in black lingerie with suspender stockings. “Perving on an eighty-year-old woman”, he mutters, “Is there no end to my depravity?” While addressing topics of sexual repression and ignorance, The Naked Bunyip includes sequences that appeal to audiences at the level of sensation.

The film’s use of spectacle and characterisation forms a precedent for comedies that are central to the industry’s revival. In particular, the depiction of Graeme as being both sexually passive and surrounded by sex prefigures Graeme Blundell’s portrayal of the protagonist in Tim Burstall’s Alvin Purple (1973). The latter film’s combining of humour and titillation with a note of surrealism is prefigured in the title sequence of The Naked Bunyip when Graeme is so distracted by a woman that he nearly collides with a car and stares broodingly after a man carrying a nude mannequin. He also adopts the role of voyeur by gazing into a shop at a woman clad only in underwear, who returns his look boldly before closing a curtain that blocks his view. The sequence introduces themes of controlled access and secrecy that have a recurrent significance in The Naked Bunyip. In particular, a contrast is evident between the film’s use of enclosed spaces such as homes and dressing rooms for interviews with people about their own lives, presumably for privacy, and public spaces for sequences of commentary and public life. Somewhat at odds with the film’s respect for interviewees’ privacy is its ridiculing of repression, which is highlighted when Graeme arrives at a suburban home to survey a typical housewife. Hoping to be seduced by a lingerie-clad hostess, he is greeted by Edna Everage (Barry Humphries). In a scene that prefigures The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie (Bruce Beresford, 1972), Mrs Everage’s responses to the questionnaire both typify middle-class repression and allude to barely concealed perversion by revealing her religious bigotry, aversion to marital intimacy, inordinate familiarity with her son, and obliviousness to lesbianism, which she mispronounces. Forming a precedent for two of the most important Australian comedy films of the 1970s, The Naked Bunyip fuelled the industry’s revival.

The combining of documentary and fiction in The Naked Bunyip was a response to the Australian film market. In his account of the film’s genesis, John B. Murray writes that the use of a documentary approach was calculated to bypass “the lack of faith audiences showed in the potential of contemporary Australian filmmakers to create narrative drama films”. In contrast to Remorse, which was of interest to South Australian audiences as a local film, The Naked Bunyip was designed to overcome resistance to local productions. Indeed, the absence in 1970 of an established audience for Australian films is fundamental to the film’s use of strategies associated with exploitation films. The Naked Bunyip has in common with exploitation films a low budget ($36,000) and independent production and distribution, the latter undertaken by Murray himself. Like the film’s hybrid form, the distribution and exhibition of The Naked Bunyip reflected the state of the Australian film industry. That the film was generally not screened in prestigious, first-run cinemas was a consequence of its 16mm format, which was budget-driven and incompatible with the 35mm projectors in most cinemas, compounded by what Murray describes as distributors’ “almost complete lack of interest in exhibiting Australian product”. Although lack of access to first-run cinemas is common to many independent productions and not only exploitation films, when combined with the controversial content of The Naked Bunyip these conditions display parallels with the association between exploitation films and less prestigious theatres or “grindhouses”. Notwithstanding the challenges it faced in distribution and exhibition, however, The Naked Bunyip was a financially successful film that screened in most Australian states, often to full houses, for almost two years; formed a model for the distribution of later films, such as Stork (Tim Burstall, 1971); and was “sold to television for an unusually high fee, at a time when few Australian films were being accepted” for television. [109] To gain attention in an unfavourable market, The Naked Bunyip drew on strategies associated with exploitation films.

An emphasis on that which was not usually spoken about is central to how The Naked Bunyip functions as an exploitation film. Among the portions of the film that the censor identified as objectionable, notes Murray, were a sequence about “gang bangers”, images of moving breasts and “suggestive pelvic movements” in nightclub scenes, and the pubic hair of life-drawing models. As in earlier decades, Australian film censorship in 1970 had a propensity to be inconsistent. For example, Murray identifies as illogical the censors’ decision to pass the graphic footage of a human birth while banning pubic hair in another scene. In response, the filmmakers exploited the controversy by highlighting, rather than simply excising, the objectionable material. Verbal descriptions of a “gang bang”, for example, are bleeped out at such length as to emphasise and render absurd how little of the segment remains. Equally, the substitution of cartoon drawings of a bunyip for portions of a striptease sequence defies the censor by emulating the censored content, zooming in on the bunyip’s breasts and moving the cartoon in time to the music. The filmmakers’ emphasising of material to which the censor had objected exemplifies how exploitation films are fuelled by, and relish, the forbidden. As well as including a segment about censorship in the film itself, the producers inflamed the issue by screening the uncut version of The Naked Bunyip for the media, generating publicity that angered the censor and Don Chipp.[110] Although the content of even the censored version of The Naked Bunyip is unprecedented in Australian film, however, the persistence of wider social constraints on the topic of sex is evident in Murray’s disappointment that the media “merely reported the phenomenon” and did not “delve deeper into aspects of sensuality”. Both early exploitation films and those of the 1970s challenged censors, attracted controversy and reveal the persistence of social prejudices associated with sexual topics.

The Naked Bunyip reveals boundaries of what was accepted in Australia in 1970. Murray had a goal for the film to challenge the lack of “open discussion” of sexual topics, particularly those relating to sexual behaviour that was not widely understood or accepted. Sequences that can be seen to sustain this include interviews with single mothers, lesbians and a former prostitute who express themselves in open and relaxed ways in the presence of the camera. Given that the film preceded many achievements of the feminist and LGBTI movements, including the decriminalisation of homosexual sex, these sequences defy social constraints of the period. Similarly, the presence of the famed transgender performer Carlotta, who comments that “a person can’t help what they’re born or what they are”, is consonant with today’s values. In other respects, however, the film manifests the limitations of values that prevailed in the period. For example, a high degree of conservatism is apparent in the censorship of images of lesbians exchanging a kiss in the street and of a lesbian’s statement that she is repelled by sex with a man. Elsewhere, values that now seem outdated are revealed in discussions of female sexuality and homosexuality. For instance, an interview with a pharmacist about contraception reveals his prurient interest in the sex lives of his customers and the question of whether a woman who buys a contraceptive is married. Female employees of a women’s magazine, POL, express a belief that women are uninterested in looking at men as sexual objects. In a paradigmatic example of the “policing of sex” through “public discourse”, [111] a doctor refers to homosexuality as a “disorder”. The film’s form also reflects the difficulties that Murray encountered when seeking people who were willing to be interviewed about their involvement in activities considered deviant. In the segment about bikers, an absence of close-up shots of faces indicates that no interviewee wanted to be identified with the topic of “gang bangs”. In another scene, footage of an interview with a homosexual man shows only the lower half of his body. While addressing sexual topics more openly than earlier films, The Naked Bunyip reflects constraints linked to values of the period.

Almost a century before the coining of the term Ozploitation, Australian film makers exploited the appeal of controversial topics relating to sex. Although the sex hygiene films of the 1910s and 1920s are separated by decades from The Naked Bunyip, these films have in common the fact that they have not often been celebrated for their embrace of controversy. These films attracted audiences to Australian films by exploring topics that were not widely discussed and challenged censorship. They also exhibit rich contradictions by both expanding the subject matter of films while defining, intentionally or otherwise, limits of what was considered acceptable. Remorse and Should a Doctor Tell? contributed to public debate about the medical and social problem of syphilis, while enforcing social divisions by demonising the city and the foreign. Having in common with these films a concern to address ignorance, The Naked Bunyip expanded public discourse about censorship and sex while ultimately revealing that this alone was insufficient to alter the marginalisation of homosexuals and sexually-active single women. Providing insight into the work of filmmakers whose success is linked to controversy and sensationalism, these films reveal the early origins of Ozploitation and the prurient exuberance of early Australian cinema.

[1] The film is also known as Remorse, or the Red Plague; see Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press and Australian Film Institute, 1980), p. 87.
[2] Mark David Ryan, “Towards an understanding of Australian genre cinema and entertainment: Beyond the limitations of ‘Ozploitation’ discourse”, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 24, no. 6 (2010), pp. 850-1; Adrian Martin, “Ozploitation compared to what? A challenge to contemporary Australian film studies”, Studies in Australasian Cinema 4, no. 1 (1 November 2010), p. 15.
[3] Deborah J. Thomas, “Tarantino’s Two Thumbs Up: Ozploitation and the Reframing of the Aussie Genre Film”, Metro 161 (2009), p. 93.
[4] Carol Laseur, “Australian exploitation film: the politics of bad taste”, Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture 5, no. 2 (1990), accessed 22 March 2012,
[5] Eric Schaefer, “Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!” A History of Exploitation Films, 1919–1959 (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1999), pp. 4-5.
[6] Schaefer, p. 4.
[7] Schaefer, pp. 5-8, 17-18.
[8] Schaefer, pp. 22–27.
[9] Ina Bertrand and William D. Routt, “The Big Bad Combine: Some Aspects of National Aspirations and International Constraints in the Australian Cinema, 1896–1929”, in The Australian Screen, edited by Albert Moran and Tom O’Regan (Ringwood: Penguin, 1989), pp. 12–21.
[10] Bertrand and Routt, p. 22.
[11] Bertrand and Routt, p. 4.
[12] Nicole Moore, The Censor’s Library (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2012), p. 4.
[13] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (London: Penguin, 1984), pp. 17–18.
[14] Foucault, pp. 18–20.
[15] Foucault, p. 25.
[16] Barbara Sullivan, The Politics of Sex: Prostitution and Pornography in Australia since 1945 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 7.
[17] Sullivan, p. 8.
[18] Kathleen Karr, “The Long Square-Up: Exploitation Trends in the Silent Film”, Journal of Popular Film 3, no. 2 (1974), p. 108; see also Sunday Times(Sydney), 4 September 1910,p. 2; Williamstown Chronicle, 4 March 1916, p. 3; Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 23 October 1916, p. 2.
[19] Karr, p. 108.
[20] Register (Adelaide), 8 March 1919, p. 10; Sunday Times, 15 February 1914, p. 28; Sunday Times, 10 September 1916, p. 2; Sydney Stock and Station Journal, 27 October 1916, p. 2.
[21] Schaefer, p. 18.
[22] Ina Bertrand, Film Censorship in Australia (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1978), pp. 39–45.
[23] Bertrand, p. 55.
[24] Bertrand, p. 111.
[25] Bertrand and Routt, p. 16.
[26] Schaefer, pp. 22–37.
[27] Annette Kuhn, Cinema, censorship and sexuality, 1909–1925 (London: Routledge, 1988), p. 66.
[28] Mail (Adelaide), 30 December 1916, p. 6.
[29] Advertiser (Adelaide), 15 December 1916, p. 8; Brisbane Courier, 19 March 1917, p. 9.
[30] Bertrand, p. 48.
[31] Bertrand, p. 104.
[32] Pike and Cooper, p. 87.
[33] Kuhn, 50; see also Schaefer, pp. 29–30.
[34] Bertrand, p. 104.
[35] Schaefer, p. 18.
[36] Dylan Walker, Adelaide’s Silent Nights: A pictorial history of Adelaide’s picture theatres during the silent era 1896-1929 (Canberra: National Film & Sound Archive, 1996), p. 63.
[37] See, respectively, Register, 29 December 1916, p. 2; and Barrier Miner (Broken Hill), 9 February 1917, p. 3.
[38] See, respectively, Evening News (Sydney), 8 February 1917, p. 10; Mail, 23 December 1916, p. 7.
[39] Brisbane Courier, 19 March 1917, p. 9.
[40] Kuhn, p. 51.
[41] Kuhn, pp. 52–3.
[42] Brisbane Courier, 19 March 1917, p. 9.
[43] Sunday Times, 22 October 1916, p. 17; SMH, 6 November 1916, p. 4.
[44] Milton Lewis, Thorns on the Rose: The History of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Australia in International Perspective (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1998), pp. 102–7.
[45] Lewis, p. 116.
[46] Lewis, pp. 129, 163–4.
[47] Age (Melbourne), 7 June 1916, p. 10; Mail, 20 January 1917, p. 5; Kadina and Wallaroo Times (SA), 3 March 1917, p. 3; West Australian (Perth), 17 May 1917, p. 8.
[48] Bendigo Advertiser, 17 July 1916, p. 3.
[49] Schaefer, pp. 41, 166–8.
[50] John Tulloch, Legends on the Screen (Sydney: Currency and Australian Film Institute), 1981, p. 346; see also Russel Ward, The Australian Legend (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1958).
[51] Quotations respectively from Brisbane Courier, 19 March 1917, p. 9; and Tulloch, p. 354.
[52] Lewis, p. 153.
[53] Advertiser, 16 February 1917, p. 8.
[54] Barrier Miner, 14 February 1917, p. 3.
[55] Ward, p. 91.
[56] Tulloch, p. 358.
[57] Advertiser, 15 December 1916, p. 8.
[58] Border Watch (Mount Gambier), 31 January 1917, p. 2.
[59] Register, 4 January 1917, p. 6.
[60] Quotations respectively from Daily Herald, 4 January 1917, p. 6; and Northern Argus (Clare, SA), 19 January 1917, p. 5.
[61] Barrier Miner, 14 February 1917, p. 3; SMH, 7 February 1917, p. 2; Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 26 February 1917, p. 6; Daily News, 21 March 1917, p. 4.
[62] Bertrand and Routt, p. 4.
[63] Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[64] Sunday Times, 19 August 1923, p. 17; see also Kalgoorlie Miner, 17 August, 1920, p. 6; Chronicle (Adelaide), 11 September 1920, p. 43; World’s News (Sydney), 22 July 1922, p. 38; Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[65] Pike and Cooper, p. 155; see also SMH, 4 September 1923, p. 2; Mail, 3 May 1924, p. 12; Evening Post (Wellington) CVII, no. 151 (27 June 1924), p. 2.
[66] Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[67] Advertiser, 8 May 1924, p. 6.
[68] Sunday Times, 26 August 1923, p. 23.
[69] Quotations respectively from National Advocate (Bathurst), 10 November 1923, p. 1; News, 6 May 1924, p. 2; Advertiser, 7 May 1924, p. 15.
[70] Quotations respectively from SMH, 25 August 1923, p. 18; Sunday Times, 26 August 1923, p. 21; News, 6 May 1924, p. 2.
[71] SMH, 25 August 1923, p. 18.
[72] Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[73] Sunday Times, 26 August 1923, p. 3.
[74] Kuhn, p. 55.
[75] Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[76] Pike and Cooper, p. 155.
[77] Eric Richards, Destination Australia: Migration to Australia since 1901(Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2008), pp. 80–2.
[78] Bertrand and Routt, p. 22.
[79] Advertiser, 8 May 1924, p. 6.
[80] Kuhn, pp. 61–2.
[81] Schaefer, p. 24.
[82] Bertrand, pp. 118–9.
[83] Bertrand, pp. 103–4.
[84] Bertrand, p. 149.
[85] Kuhn, pp. 64–5.
[86] Bertrand, p. 119.
[87] Quotations respectively from Pike and Cooper, p 155; and Advertiser, 8 May 1924, p. 6.
[88] Argus (Melbourne), 4 December 1919, p. 8.
[89] Brisbane Courier, 19 September 1924, p. 19.
[90] News, 9 May 1924, p. 1; Sunday Times, 11 March 1923, p. 17.
[91] SMH, 17 March 1925, p. 8; see also SMH, 16 February 1925, p. 8.
[92] Schaefer, p. 11.
[93] Tulloch, p. 292; see also Andrée Wright, “McDonagh, Paulette de Vere (1901–1978)”, in Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1986), accessed 28 August 2014,
[94] See, respectively, Ross Cooper, “The McDonagh Sisters”, Cinema Papers 3,July 1974, p. 261; and Tulloch, p. 429.
[95] William D. Routt, “Bush Westerns?: The Lost Genre” (paper presented at Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2003), accessed 20 January 2014,
[96] Sullivan, pp. 72–3.
[97] Kuhn, pp. 52–3.
[98] John B. Murray, “The Genesis of The Naked Bunyip”, Senses of Cinema 38 (February 2006), accessed 7 January 2015, All subsequent statements by Murray refer to this publication.
[99] Mark Goodall, “Shockumentary evidence: the perverse politics of the Mondo film”, in Remapping World Cinema: identity, culture and politics in film, edited by Stephanie Dennison and Song Hwee Lim (London and New York: Wallflower, 2006)p. 124.
[100] Karr, p. 107.
[101] Schaefer, p. 338.
[102] Leon Hunt, British Low Culture: From Safari Suits to Sexploitation (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 94.
[103] Schaefer, p. 339.
[104] Pike and Cooper, p. 319.
[105] Schaefer, p. 338.
[106] Sullivan, p. 130.
[107] Pike and Cooper, p. 326.
[108] Hunt, pp. 93–4.
[109] Pike and Cooper, p. 326.
[110] Pike and Cooper, p. 326; see also Murray.
[111] Foucault, p. 25.

About the Author

Lesley Speed

About the Author

Lesley Speed

Lesley Speed lectures in Media and Screen Studies at Federation University Australia. Her research interests include screen comedy in Australia and the United States; youth cinema; discourses of generation in screen culture; and popular screen genres. She is the author of the books Australian comedy films of the 1930s: Modernity, the urban and the international and Clueless: American Youth in the 1990s. Her research has also been published in journals in Australia, the USA and the UK.View all posts by Lesley Speed →