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The Overlanders

Released Dec 26, 1946 1h 31m Adventure List
Reviews 56% Audience Score 100+ Ratings Inspired by a true tale, this film follows horseman Dan McAlpine (Chips Rafferty) as he guides a massive herd of cattle across the punishing terrain of northern Australia. At the outset of World War II, Dan is advised to kill the animals, lest they be used to feed Japanese troops. Instead, he and a diverse group of hired hands and volunteers take the cattle over mountains and across rivers, in an attempt to reach what they hope is safety on the furthest reaches of the country's east coast. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

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MFB Critics Monthly Film Bulletin Stripped of its tawdry "fictionalisation", this film ranks high among screen achievements -- with many fine directorial details, accurate if broad characterisation, and full exploitation of periodic climactic incident native to original cinema. Feb 7, 2018 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Ken R Many Australians are unaware of the threat posed to the top end of Australia as a direct result of a Japanese attack on Darwin during WW11. Many residential owners of farms and properties, including livestock, were either destroyed or moved to safety. This film covers one such major attempt to shift thousands of prime livestock south - away from the perceived threat of advancing enemy troops. This epic cattle drive involved a massive droving venture on a scale not attempted before (1,600 miles) - which the threat of an approaching invader left little time to properly organise. This arduous journey stretched from Western Australia, through the Northern Territory to Brisbane Queensland, a vast and challenging area indeed. This film, being the first of British Ealing Studios/Australian branch productions - covers the trials of this mighty excursion, detailing the many dangers and obstructions encountered by the small band of locals - determined to save their livelihoods while keeping the vital meat supply from an approaching enemy. Aussie, Chips Rafferty does well as the lanky stockman who suggests and implements the risky drive, while another Aussie Peter Pagan turns in able support as ‘Sinbad' the ex-British sailor. Lovely Australian nursing orderly Daphne Campbell plays the daughter of a family who also joins the mighty trek southward – along with several experienced Aborigines hired as stockmen assisting with the cattle. All cast members work well together making this an impressive first-off Brit/Aussie feature. Young Daphne Campbell turned down future offers of roles overseas to stay home and raise a family. While this production was financially successful, the following Ealing feature "Eureka Stockade" (a fine and much more involved venture) did not sell well, unfortunately ending the Ealing's Australian arm's operations. Both are recommended vintage productions for equal interest as entertainment and history. The often barren Outback settings are effectively shot in stark B/W adding further drama. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 10/24/20 Full Review Audience Member It's Election Day here in Australia. So, to commemorate that fact, last night I watched this classic Australian film. In order to escape the potential Japanese invasion of the Northern Territory during WWII, a drover (played with confident charm by Chips Rafferty) gathers together a team to lead a mob of cattle all the way across the continent to Brisbane, Queensland. This film is the story of their journey through the outback. Produced by Britain's Ealing Studios but filmed on location in Australia and populated with Australians speaking Australian English (although as can be expected, the actors speak with a variety of accents), it's a real treat to see a story based here in my adopted country. The cattle face numerous obstacles and there is a bit of a love story between cowgirl and cowboy but it's mostly action, filmed documentary-style by Harry Watt, with hundreds of real cows, dozens of real horses, and a "you are there" feeling. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member An alternative setting for, but essentially a cattle drive western which is a series of stories on the way. It's a watchable movie but the past tense voice over does detract from the story. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member Interesting drama, set in a time of history when, during the Second World War, Australians feared invasion by Japan. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/27/23 Full Review Audience Member Fast-moving Australian western. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member Interesting "documentary" storyline, but the fairly blatant propaganda and pretty ordinary acting at times let it down for me. However, there were some fantastic scenes on hearding cattle, if you are into that sort of thing. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/17/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Overlanders

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Movie Info

Synopsis Inspired by a true tale, this film follows horseman Dan McAlpine (Chips Rafferty) as he guides a massive herd of cattle across the punishing terrain of northern Australia. At the outset of World War II, Dan is advised to kill the animals, lest they be used to feed Japanese troops. Instead, he and a diverse group of hired hands and volunteers take the cattle over mountains and across rivers, in an attempt to reach what they hope is safety on the furthest reaches of the country's east coast.
Director
Harry Watt
Producer
Michael Balcon, Ralph Smart
Screenwriter
Harry Watt
Distributor
Universal Pictures
Production Co
Ealing Studios
Genre
Adventure
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Dec 26, 1946, Original
Runtime
1h 31m