Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society; ‘Moving Images and the Theatre’; The Shiralee; Filming in the Upper Hunter; Scone’s Civic Theatre: Heather Ashford assisted by Mary Woodlands: Federation Publication No 1 Scone and Upper Historical Society Incorporated, Scone NSW 2337 Australia. 1997. ISBN 0 949187 14 3. © Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Incorporated. Designed and printed by Pritchard’s Press Pty. Ltd. 206 Kelly Street, Scone NSW 2337.
Advertisement for ‘Thoroughbred’: Scone Advocate 16 June 1936
In 1935 Percy Miller’s Kia Ora Stud was chosen as the setting for Cinesound Production Ltd.’s film Thoroughbred. Hollywood celebrity Helen Twelvetrees was selected for the star role. Ken Hall was the director. The company “arrived in Scone, cavalcade style” on 19 December 1935. “Miss Twelvetrees was shown to a specially designed suite of rooms at the Golden Fleece Hotel”. The Scone Advocate, 20 December 1935.
Prominent Australians in the cast included equestrienne Violet Scuthorpe, brother Lance Scuthorpe and Arthur Winter of Willow Tree, formerly of Scone. The breaking-in segment of the film was shot in the yards at Kia Ora then managed by Bert Riddle. Violet Scuthorpe ‘doubled’ for Helen Twelvetrees who could not ride. The former was a solidly built brunette and the latter (Miss Twelvetrees) a leggy blond. The make-up artists, creative cameramen and editing (‘cutting’) teams were truly tested to lend the final product an ‘authentic’ ring.
Other celebrities in the cast were Frank Leighton and Nellie Barnes. Hall of Fame and all time great American jockey Johnny Longden appears in the official advertisement both listed by name and in a photograph with star Helen Twelvetrees. I doubt Johnny Longden actually came to Scone; but its just possible? It would be a very desirable connection between the industry in the USA and the Upper Hunter?
Thoroughbred was shown at the Olympia Theatre, Scone on three nights and also a matinee on 23, 24, 25 June 1936 and described in the Scone Advocate as follows:
“Australian in construction, in sentiment, in ideals, Thoroughbred reveals to the whole world the glory, grandeur, and true natural greatness of this wonderful country of ours. It was skilfully directed by Ken G. Hall, Australia’s young “ace” director. The film is of more than passing interest to Upper Hunterites, for Kia Ora, the premier stud of the Commonwealth, many wonderful shots were obtained. These not only embraced the scenic beauties of the place, but the great horses that have helped to maintain the reputation and traditions of the place of Australian turfdom.”
The production cost £20,000 ($40,000) and was premiered at the Mayfair Theatre, Sydney in May 1936.