A great find....Just recently, after nine years, we have finally been able to secure a copy of one of Australia's most iconic titles, "Smiley".
If you mainly recall the movie, you're not alone, but when Moore Raymond had the book published in the UK in 1945 it was
a true sensation as the information below will reveal. It was viewed as an Australian equivalent to Twain's
great novel, Huckleberry Finn.
In the book a young Australian boy, William Thomas Greevins, nicknamed Smiley, was constantly falling into adventures & mischief
in the Australian outback town where he lived and attended Murrumbilla State School.
The book's success inspired two followups, Smiley Gets a Gun. London, Sylvian Press, 1947 & Smiley Roams the Road, Hulton Press, 1959.
Both these titles fall into the "not too hard to find" category whereas the original is as scarce as can be imagined. For example there is
just one currently listed & it's in Ireland at almost 3X ours despite being a later copy.
To many Australians (Neville Ernest) Moore Raymond's book "Smiley" is eponymous with a time of simple bush-town naivete, but when it
hit the bookshops to great acclaim the film rights were bought immediately by Sir Alexander Korda.
Raymond's brother asserted the three Smiley stories were inspired by memories of hot, dusty little towns of childhood. Moore Raymond
was born in Queensland in 1903(4?) at Pimpama and educated at Toowoomba Grammar and then Queensland University. He later
worked as a freelance journalist, author, broadcaster and actor whilst working in Britain. The book, though written for adults, was
successfully adapted into a movie screenplay that had a very long gestation as its successive directors sought the ideal character
to portray Smiley and an ideal film location.
In 1946 Korda sent Raymond to Australia to find a possible child actors and locations across a three month search. However Korda says he could not
find an appropriate director and shelved it. Korda eventually assigned the project to Anthony Kimmins, who had served in Australia in World War Two.
He arrived in Australia in March 1950 to begin pre-production and announced he would make the film near Augathella for £100,000.
However after actually inspecting the site he doubted it would be useful and he was unable to find an actor he was happy with.
Plans to make the movie were delayed again.
Kimmins returned to Australia September 1955 to begin again and after interviewing over 2,000 boys, he cast Colin Peterson as Smiley and
Bruce Archer as Joey. Keith Calvert got the Smiley role in "Smiley Gets a Gun". Colin Petersen, the original Smiley, went on to become a
drummer in the Bee Gees. Filming started in late October, with the township of Murrumbilla created on an estate at Camden Park.
Roles went to Chips Rafferty, Ralph Richardson, John McCallum, Bud Tingwell & Leonard Teale amongst others.
As part of our literary heritage this book will make a great heirloom gift; it's a valuable memento of our recent cultural past. Serious literature critics
were quite right in their comparisons of the story with Twain's Huckleberry Finn. There's enormous scope to interpret Raymond's book as social
commentary on our relationship with Britain, our treatment of the aborigines, class structure and business ethics/morals.
This extract by essayist Emma Hamilton is an example of the interpretations put >>> At the macro-level. Smiley's journey can also be seen as a
metaphor for nationhood. Smiley commences the film possessing distinctly adult qualities: he recites poetry and has a large vocabulary, he troubles
himself with the romance between school teacher Miss Workman (Jocelyn Hernfield) and Sergeant Flaxman, and promises that he will provide dinner
for his mother. He is, as many scholars have suggested of Australia itself. 'born modern'.
(Extract taken from the excellent Making Film and Television Histories: Australia and New Zealand. edited by James E. Bennett, Rebecca Beirne)
Raymond's writing credits >
During the 1930s he wrote a number of plays for broadcast on the BBC (mostly for Midland) including the burlesque (in rhyme) The Marmalade Mystery (1935)
and the series The House Next Door (1936), the Christmas revue Folly and Mistletoe (with others, 1936), the series How to Make the Best of... (1937),
the comedy Twenty-one Days at Sea (1937), Seeing Life (1938), and This Week's Films (1943-44) for the Forces. Raymond was also the film and television
critic for the Sunday Dispatch. Moore Raymond died in Barcelona on 13 June 1965, aged 62.
As I say, a really marvelous find. 1945 First edition, first reprint $625.
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