Release date1953 (overseas)
June 1955 (Australia) CastGrant Taylor (Captain Thunderbolt), Bud Tingwell (Alan Blake), Rosemary Miller (Joan), Harp McGuire (Sgt Mannix) Similar moviesBait, Justice in a Smoking Gun, Dead End Drive-In, The Postcard Bandit, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Rescuers Down Under
Captain thunderbolt classic australian film interview with one of the cast members
Captain Thunderbolt is a 1953 Australian action film from director Cecil Holmes about the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt. It was one of the few all-Australian films of the 1950s.
Fred Ward is imprisoned for horse stealing. He escapes from Cockatoo Island and under the name of Captain Thunderbolt becomes a bushranger, working with his friend and fellow escapee Alan Blake.
Thunderbolt is tracked by the evil Sergeant Mannix who undertakes gunfights with the bushranger at a dance, then at a rocky outcrop, only to discover that he has killed Alan Blake instead. Mannix passes off Blake's body as Thunderbolt, enabling the bushranger to escape. The legend grows that Thunderbolt did not die.
Grant Taylor as Captain Thunderbolt
Charles Tingwell as Alan Blake
Rosemary Miller as Joan
Harp McGuire as Sgt Mannix
John Fegan as Dalton
Jean Blue as Mrs Ward
John Fernside as Colonel
Loretta Boutmy as Maggie
Ronald Whelan as Hogstone
Charles Tasman as Colonial Secretary
Harvey Adams as parliamentarian
Patricia Hill as Belle
John Brunskill as Judge
The budget was provided entirely by theatrical entrepreneur Sir Benjamin Fuller.
The movie was shot in early 1951 on location in New England, New South Wales, and at the Royal National Park in Sydney, with studio work done in Supreme Sound System in North Sydney. The woolshed dance sequence was shot at a Pyrmont woolstore. One of Thunderbolt's robbery victims was played by Kathleen Drummond, daughter of the then-local MP David Drummond.
British censorship requirements meant that the real-life romantic relationship between Thunderbolt and his aboriginal girlfriend Mary, who helped him escape from Cockatoo Island, was not featured in the film when released in Britain.
Captain Thunderbolt was allowed to live at the end of the film because the producers hoped to spin it off into a TV series. This did not happen.
The film did not receive a wide release in Australia – it did not play in Melbourne cinemas until late 1955, and Sydney until 1956. However it sold well overseas, including to American television.
The only copy of the film in possession of the Australian National Film and Sound Archive is a 53-minute TV edition. The archive is looking for a copy of the full 69 minute version.