# 24171


[SYDNEY; THEATRE; CINEMA] Minerva. Whitehall Productions presents “Mr. Smart Guy”.

$125.00 AUD

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[Cover title]. Sydney, NSW : Publicity Pty. Ltd., 1941. Small quarto (247 x 184 mm), original pictorial wrappers (light vertical fold), staple bound, 16 pp, with photographic portraits, including writer/director Alec Coppel and actors, advertisements for local businesses; a good copy.

Programme produced for the world premiere on May 10 1941 of the play Mr. Smart Guy, written and directed by internationally acclaimed Australian screenwriter, novelist and playwright Alec Coppel, at the Minerva Theatre, Orwell Street, in Sydney’s King’s Cross. Coppel, who was born in Melbourne and educated at Wesley College, had just returned from England where he had already worked as a writer for theatre, radio and film. In Sydney he co-founded Whitehall Productions, an adventurous theatre company for which he also wrote and directed plays. After the war Coppel would return to London, where he wrote the script for Edward Dmytryk’s celebrated film noir Obsession (1949) – based on Coppel’s own novel, A Man about a Dog. He then moved to Hollywood, where his career really took off: he became the first Australian to receive an Academy Award nomination for screenwriting with The Captain’s Paradise (1953). But Coppel’s most significant achievement – albeit one that is not as well known in Australia as it should be – was to co-write the screenplay for a film that is consistently acknowledged as one of the greatest of all time, Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). 

‘The time has come for the legitimate theatre in Australia to re-establish itself, and Whitehall Productions intends to see that it does exactly this. During the past few years it has been generally thought that the talkies have killed the theatre. This is not so. Talkies hit the public as a novelty, and as a novelty built up a tremendous following. Today, the legitimate theatre has the opportunity to use the same weapon to fight back. In Australia there is a whole generation of people who have never been to the theatre, and to whom legitimate stage production is a novelty. A company that is prepared to show theatre to these people in a modern and attractive form will win the support of this generation. The aim of Whitehall Productions is to establish a permanent theatre in this town which will concern itself purely with the presentation of a continuous series of good, modern and commercial plays.’ (p.1)

This highly important Sydney theatre programme, associated with Australia’s most notable pioneer Hollywood screenwriter, is unrecorded in Australian collections.