Captain Thunderbolt: The search continues

The search continues to recover Captain Thunderbolt, a quintessential Australian film.


Captain Thunderbolt was released in 1953, directed by Cecil Holmes and starring Grant Taylor, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Rosemary Miller, Harp McGuire. 


The film portrays the story of the Australian Bushranger Fred Ward who escaped from prison to become a renegade outlaw who robs from wealthy squatters to give to the poor. The complete version of the movie is missing and a shortened 53 minute version appears to be the only surviving copy of the movie. Captain Thunderbolt was filmed in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia, in early 1951.


Some of the interior filming was shot at Pyrmont wool store and at Pagewood Studios, Sydney. The film had a trade preview January 1953 and in 1955, a premiere at Armidale NSW and brief release at Lyric in Haymarket/Railway Square, Sydney. A couple of years ago, I found out by chance that a colleague had appeared in the film as the young Captain Thunderbolt. Although not listed in the credits, Phil Hawkes had an important role in the film and I interviewed him about his experiences. You can hear the interview here … The young Captain Thunderbolt


It is possible that a complete copy of the film is hidden away somewhere in an attic or shed. Missing films have turned up before in the most unlikely places so hopefully it will be discovered and restored in the not too distant future. For more information about the search for Captain Thunderbolt see Graham Shirley's presentation at the Sydney Film Festival 2010. 


NOTE: Posters and advertising material for Captain Thunderbolt are very rare. The Australian daybill pictured to the left of this article has the "Ray Films" logo as part of the printing and seems to be the only Australian poster that has surfaced. I believe that the "Ray Films" reference indicates that the poster is an early reissue / re release.


A full colour daybill may have been printed for the original release and most likely printed by W.E Smith.


Original stills have been found and I have two listed here …

Captain Thunderbolt Movie Stills

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