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Beaumont Smith

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Name  Beaumont Smith
Role  Film director
Siblings  Gordon Smith

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Died  January 2, 1950, Sydney, Australia
Spouse  Elsie Fleming (m. 1911–1950)
Movies  The Hayseeds, Our Friends, the Hayseeds
Similar People  Raymond Longford, Henry Lawson, Arthur Tauchert, Banjo Paterson, Marie Ney

Frank Beaumont "Beau" Smith (15 August 1885 – 2 January 1950), was an Australian film director, producer and exhibitor, best known for making low-budget comedies.



Smith was born in Hallett, South Australia, and educated at East Adelaide Public School. He first worked as a journalist, writing for The Critic, The Register and The Bulletin, and helping C. J. Dennis found The Gadfly.

Theatre Work

He tried playwriting, working on an adaptation of On Our Selection with Steele Rudd – this was eventually rewritten by Bert Bailey to great success.

He later worked as secretary for William Anderson.

In 1911 he managed a European troupe of midgets, "Tiny Town". and went into theatre management.

He was a fan of the works of Henry Lawson and adapted several of his stories for stage and film.

Film career

Smith made his first film in 1917, Our Friends, the Hayseeds. He went on to become one of the most prolific and popular Australian filmmakers of the silent era. Among his films were adaptations of the works of Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. His 1933 comedy The Hayseeds featured the first screen appearance of Cecil Kellaway.

Smith was famous for making his films quickly – sometimes he would complete shooting and post production within one month for budgets ranging from £600 to £1,200. His wife Elsie would comment on his scripts and his brother Gordon looked after company finances. He was sometimes known as "One Shot Beau" or "That'll Do Beau".

Our Friends, the Hayseeds (1917) was shot in South Australia. Many of the cast had appeared in Beaumont Smith's theatrical productions of While the Billy Boils and Seven Little Australians. Smith followed it with The Hayseeds Come to Sydney (1917), shot in Sydney, The Hayseeds' Back-blocks Show (1917), shot in Brisbane, and The Hayseeds' Melbourne Cup (1918), filmed in Melbourne.

Smith's first non-Hayseed film was a wartime melodrama, Satan in Sydney (1918). He followed it with Desert Gold (1919), a race horse story, and the comedy Barry Butts In (1919) starring Barry Lupino.

In May 1919 he stopped producing films until better terms for exhibiting them could be found. He recommenced production in October. He spent a number of months in Hollywood, then returned to Australia to make The Man from Snowy River (1920).

Smith travelled to New Zealand to make the inter-racial romance The Betrayer (1921), then back in Australia did While the Billy Boils (1921), adapted from the stories of Henry Lawson (which Smith had previously adapted for the stage). He made a bushranging drama The Gentleman Bushranger (1922), then returned to Hayseed comedies with Townies and Hayseeds (1923) and Prehistoric Hayseeds (1923).

Smith made two films starring Arthur Tauchert, The Digger Earl (1924) and Joe (1924). Then he did two comedies starring Claude Dampier, Hullo Marmaduke (1925) and The Adventures of Algy (1925).

Later career

Shrinking profits led to Smith retiring from film-making in 1925, although he returned briefly in the early 1930s to make The Hayseeds (1933), giving Cecil Kellaway his first lead in a film, and Splendid Fellows (1934).

He became managing director of Williamson Films (New Zealand) Ltd (later J. C. Williamson Picture Corporation Ltd), Wellington. He retired to Killara, Sydney in 1938.

Personal life

Smith was married to Elsie Fleming from 1911, until his death. She was often an uncredited contributor with his work, helping him write scripts. His brother Gordon managed his finances.


Smith died on 2 January, 1950 in Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards. He was survived by his wife Elsie, he was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium.


The National Library of Australia tracked down a collection of 300 reels of Smith's films, including all his features. However, when the researchers arrived to collect it they were told that the entire collection had been burnt within the previous weeks, on the advice of an insurance company because of the film's inflammable nature.

Selected filmography

  • Our Friends, the Hayseeds (1917)
  • The Hayseeds Come to Sydney (1917)
  • The Hayseeds' Back-blocks Show (1917)
  • The Hayseeds' Melbourne Cup (1918)
  • Satan in Sydney (1918)
  • Desert Gold (1919)
  • Barry Butts In (1919)
  • The Man from Snowy River (1920) – based on the poem by Banjo Paterson
  • A Journey through Filmland (1921) – documentary
  • The Betrayer (1921)
  • While the Billy Boils (1921) – based on the stories of Henry Lawson
  • The Gentleman Bushranger (1922)
  • Townies and Hayseeds (1923)
  • Prehistoric Hayseeds (1923)
  • The Digger Earl (1924)
  • Joe (1924) – based on the story by Henry Lawson
  • Hullo Marmaduke (1925)
  • The Adventures of Algy (1925)
  • The Hayseeds (1933)
  • Splendid Fellows (1934)
  • Selected Theatre Credits

  • Seven Little Australians (1916)
  • While the Billy Boils (1916) – adaptation
  • Joe Wilson and His Mates (1916) – adaptation
  • References

    Beaumont Smith Wikipedia