World posters of early Australian films

Andrew Blair has amassed an enviable collection of Australian film posters from around the world. Impressed, Cinema Australia invited Andrew to share a few of his favourites.

Andrew’s full collection of Australian movie posters can be found at his website,

Written by Andrew Blair

When I was growing up, I had no idea that Australia had such a rich film industry history.  In my early twenties, I rented a video called “Forty Thousand Horsemen” thinking it was a documentary of the Australian Light Horsemen. I was surprised to see it was an old Australian film movie with a colourful story line. That movie started my curosity of what other Australian films existed.

In my search I found early Australian films had wide success both locally and overseas. Films were distributed internationally by well known distributors, and they invested money in adapting the advertisement of the films to local markets. As a result, there exists around the world colourful artwork of Australian films.

Below are a few Australian film posters I have collected.  A wide range of posters is shown at

Dad and Dave is based on popular stories by Steele Rudd and stage shows which evolved into three movies by Ken G, Hall.

The “Dad and Dave Come to Town” movie was distributed in countries such as US and UK. In the US, it was renamed “Down On The Farm” , and in the UK it was renamed “The Rudd family goes to town” – because term Dad and Dave was not well known overseas.

Here is the UK and Australia poster version of the film. Although the title varied, a similar style was adopted common across countries. I love the statement “what this country needs is a Darn Good Laugh.

Charles Chauvel was a popular Australian director in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He made a series of films.

One of these films was called “Forty Thousand Horsemen” and based on the Australian Light Horsemen and their exploits in the deserts of Sinai in WW1. Charles Chauvel had an affinity with the movie because his uncle, Sir Harry Chauvel, had been the general in command of the WW1 desert campaign.

In 1941, it was shown in countries such as US, UK, France,  Singapore, Sweden, Belgium. It did particularly will in London and New York.

The different artwork for this movie varied greatly in countries, but largely retained the title. I love the work of this french poster version. Its captures well the romance and dramatic adventure of the film.

The Rats of Tobruk is another film that Charles Chauvel produced soon after Forty Thousand Horsemen. It was the only Australian feature film to be funded and released during the second world war. It tells the story of how the Australians defeated the German army at Tobruk.

The film was released in Australia in 1944, and released 5 years later in the UK and US. Here is the US and Belgium versions poster of the film, trying to depict the dramatic nature of the film

Chips rafferty could be regarded as the Cary Grant of Australian film, with a comical side. He starred in many Australian and US films between 1930’s and 70s.

Chips starred in a few Australian films that depicted the Australian outback. One of these films was the Overlanders , which was a story of a major cattle drove in the Australian outback.

The movie was widely distributed to countries which as the US, UK, Germany, etc.

Here is a French 2 sheet of Overlanders, which captures the romance and the Australian outbacks. Its a simple poster, and has affective colours.

During the 1940s and 50s many Australian film posters were produced and printed by W.E. Smith and Robert Burton in Sydney. The print houses employed various artists for the movie posters. Unfortunately its not well documented which particular artistics produced each of movie posters.

The artworks by these print houses were bright and colourful. Here is an example poster from W. E. Smith for Bush Christmas.

One of my favorite early Australian films is 1949 “Sons of Matthew” film about the pioneering O’Reillys family. The film had instant success in Australia, and was shown widely overseas. In the UK the title was the same as in Australia, but in the US it was renamed the Rugged O’Riordans,

The artwork for this movie varied greatly between countries. Here is the artwork for the US, and Spanish versions.

Colour production came to Australia with the 1955 Charles Chauvel film Jedda. The film was shown around the world, renamed in the US and UK to be “Jedda the Uncivilized”. The film had a tremendous impact on the viewing public, and the tragic ending amazed them. The film won praise at the cannes film festival.

Here is the Australian poster daybill for Jedda, and the US lobby title card.

Poland produced different style movie posters that were more abstract representations of the movie.

Shown here is a Polish poster for the 1957 “The Shiralee” movie. The poster is simple in drawing and expressive in depicting the nature of the movie.

Film posters can vary in size around the world. The most common size posters is a one sheet and is generally 68.5cm by 104cm, and a day bill is generally 33cm by 76cm.

One sheets and day bills are the most popular sizes sort after by collectors. One variety I also like to collect are the British movie stills which shows scenes of the movies. What I like about the British stills are that they are colourful, whereas other countries had them mostly in black and white, Here is the British movie still for the Australian movie Smiley.

Sometimes Australian movies where renamed overseas to be more melodramatic. An example is the movie “Walk in Paradise” which was renamed  “Walk into Hell” in the US. Here is the US poster that is fairly colourful and dramatic.

In my search, it has been interesting to see how widely Australian films have been shown both locally and overseas, and to find such a diverse range of artistry which has been produced. My next search is to find the names of the artists who produced these wonderful posters.

For more information, or to contact Andrew, you can visit

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