Bush Christmas (1947) Poster

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8/10
aboriginal, not black
barry benefield21 December 2013
i happened on this movie today on turner classic movies. i love a good 40's era black and white 'family' movie with a plot which this is. i did enjoy it. the movie is also surprising for it's use of an aboriginal actor neza saunders. the flick uses aboriginal 'nature knowledge' a bit more satisfactorily than American treatment of indians like tonto. still i can't get used to the use of the term 'blacks'. the term does not carry the respect that is used now for American blacks. it is insulting and degrading. i also note that the only review of the film repeats the term and that the IMDb quick intro/summary lists the other four children by name but not neza saunders one newspaper story about the film tells the story of the filming and the actors including a story about neza falling from his horse when it wouldn't jump like the others. i am currently doing research about neza saunders who apparently died this summer. i would be happy to make anything i find including urls available to anyone requesting them.
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A Different Kind of Christmas Story
utgard1418 December 2013
Very fun and very different Australian Christmas tale. Some thieves steal horses from a local farmer. The farmer's kids and their friends, a visiting English boy and an Aborigine boy named Neza, take off after the horse thieves themselves. Their pursuit takes them into the Australian bush. Eventually the kids catch up to the thieves and must use their brains to defeat them and get their father's horses back. This is a fun, likable film that's probably unlike anything most kids today have seen. Particularly American kids. I didn't see it until I was an adult but it I enjoyed it a lot. If you want to try a unique Christmas movie, then please try this one out. It's a keeper.
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5/10
I didn't exactly agree with Leonard Maltin on this one...
MartinHafer29 December 2012
Today, I saw Leonard Maltin on TV talking about his recommendations for new DVDs. One of these was "Bush Christmas"--and he said it was a nice family film. So, I decided to check out the film--especially since it currently is streaming on Netflix. After watching it, however, I found I wasn't nearly as positive in my opinion on the film and didn't exactly love the picture.

The film is set in the Mara-Mara region of Australia--a desolate place which is being use for ranch land by locals. It seems that there is a problem there with rustlers and the problem is dealt with by the local kids instead of their parents! It seems they've seen the rustlers and the parents don't believe them. So, they set out to stop the crooks themselves--and use their brains to defeat the thieves again and again.

There are some things to like about the film--such as its very sympathetic treatment of aboriginals. One of the kids in the film is an aboriginal and he's treated by the others like an equal--and he is VERY helpful during their tracking of the thieves. But the film suffers a bit from some unnecessary narration as well as a cliché I hate--you know, that kids are somehow smarter than their parents. In 1947 it must have been pretty novel--in the 1980s it was a stupid epidemic in films and on TV. All in all, a passable film but one I certainly did not love. Not bad--just not all that good either.
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9/10
excellent kid's adventure story
winner5510 November 2009
The story could be tighter and the film shorter, but otherwise it's hard to find fault with this superb adventure film for children. The black and white cinematography is gorgeous - it's actually rather difficult to capture sweeping landscapes on black and white, but here it looks easy, it's so well done. The story is interesting, the dialog well written, the acting is superb - the kids never get annoying and remain authentic throughout, well supported by the adults who display a remarkable naturalism. Certainly it's "just for kids," that was its intent, and it succeeds admirably. If only one of the many versions of "Tom Sawyer" could have achieved such natural grace and energy! Has held up quite well after more than sixty years.
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Mildly engaging adventure story, with strong performances from the children
J. Spurlin30 April 2008
"I don't expect you've ever heard of our valley," says the narrator. "Mara Mara is its name, the name the Australian blacks gave it hundreds of years before we came to their land. Mara Mara. It has a nice, sleepy sound, hasn't it? And we're a sleepy little town, too. Plenty of hard work, but never much excitement. That is to say, not until last Christmas. I must tell you about last Christmas, because then we had too much excitement for a little place like ours. It all started on the afternoon school broke up for Christmas holidays. Of course on our side of the world, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer."

Five children riding their horses from school take a forbidden path and meet two strangers, who give them money and make them promise not to tell anyone about them. The two men learn about Lucy. She's a mare belonging to Mr. Thompson, a sheep farmer and the father of three of the children: Helen (the oldest), John, and six-year-old Snow (so named for the color of his hair). The other two are Michael, an English boy staying with the Thompsons, and Neza, an Australian black who is the son of one of Mr. Thompson's stock men. The two men prove to be horse thieves, and when Lucy and her foal turn up missing the next morning, the children know it must have been them.

They're mortified. Mr. Thompson had saved up three years for that horse, and it's their fault she's gone. The police have no luck finding the thieves, but John is certain he knows where they've gone. The children tell Mrs. Thompson they're going camping. But their real plan is to find the thieves and get Lucy and the foal back.

The strong performances of the children, and the intelligence and resourcefulness of their characters, are the main strong points of this mildly engaging adventure story.
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6/10
Bush Christmas (Ralph Smart, 1947) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI28 December 2007
This pleasant kiddie flick has the benefit of being located in the relatively unusual Australian outback despite its Christmas period setting; as everyone knows, Australian Christmases are hot summery ones rather than marked by the cold weather which is so intrinsic to the Christmas spirit for the rest of the world. Although I've become familiar with a handful of Australian movies in fairly recent years, this is undoubtedly the oldest one I've watched so far – although, technically, this is a British-Australian co-production. For the record, the film was quite popular on its home turf and was, in fact, remade much later in 1983 with a young Nicole Kidman featured in the cast!

Anyway, writer-director Ralph Smart had a hand in concocting several earlier, notable British comedies – ALF'S BUTTON AFLOAT (1938), CONVICT 99 (1938), etc. – and later went into TV where he dealt with such heroic figures as William Tell and Robin Hood; indeed, BUSH Christmas adequately displays his light touch and sense of adventure which makes for a decent, low-key entertainment which passes the time amiably enough. The unassuming plot has to do with a group of young children (including a bungling, bespectacled Briton and a half-Aborigine tracker) falling foul of three horse thieves (one of whom is played by popular Australian actor Chips Rafferty).
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10/10
an amazing tale of self-sufficiency in a by-gone era
mimailatimdb27 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to believe, even by 1940s standards, that kids could either be so independent, or be allowed by their parents to be independent, or for that matter, be represented in a film as being this independent and capable.

On the other hand, I know of USA kids in the late 1990s who were 13/14 years that were left to camp in the wild for a week by parents, and given instructions on how to hike out to a meeting point. I find even that unimaginable, so what do I know of childhood independence?

Overall, it's a very likable film. No gratuitous sex/violence thrown in, to the point where you don't fear when the kids get naive about thinking they're back in civilization when in fact they're setting themselves up to get caught by the bad guys.

Anyway, this is mostly a film for kids, as it is mostly about kids who survive in the wild so well that they give some horse thieves some serious haranguing. But for parents and adults looking for a view into optimistic child-oriented films of the 1940s, look no further.
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8/10
"Walkabout" for a Pre-Teen and Middle School Audience
aimless-4622 December 2007
Don't be scared away by the title, "Bush Christmas" (1947) has nothing to do with George W. or his father. They are referring to the Australian "Bush" and this is a children's film that no doubt was a heavy influence on Nicholas Roeg"s "Walkabout" (1971); as well as its source novel by James Vance Marshall. In both a small band of children find themselves in the bush country and out of their element, getting survival tips from a native boy. "A Far Off Place" (1993) and "Alaska" (1996) also appropriated many elements of the story. "Bush Christmas" is the least gritty of the four films but the most believable and the least manipulative.

It should remind the viewer in some ways of the modern Australian television show "Saddle Club" as the kids are around horses all the time; even riding them to and from school. And the plot involves Grinch-inspired horse thieves who almost ruin Christmas for the family when they steal their prize mare, leaving her young colt behind. So the five children head into the bush to track down the horse thieves, while their parents and the police attempt to rescue them. There is even a Ghost Town (also found in "Walkabout") although you have to suspend disbelief as the (until then) very perceptive children inexplicably take far too long to recognize that the horse thieves are its only residents.

Worth noting is that Helen Grieve plays the only girl in this group of adventurous children but there is no condescension to her, she rides better than the boys and takes on a kind of "Wendy" from "Peter Pan" role in the group.

Christmas in the southern hemisphere is a summer event but the holiday is still celebrated with winter wonderland decorations, presents, and a tree.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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8/10
Innocent, hopeful film cheered British child audiences.
FilmartDD9 February 2005
What a breath of open air and joyful hope this film from the faraway "Dominion" of Australia would have brought to British children worn out from near six years of war 1939-1945, and continuing material shortages in every aspect of life! The sunshine, outdoors sights and sounds, freedom to roam, all had a powerful emotional impact. Ralph Smart caught something of Australia as Australians even now think it ought to be. Chips Rafferty looked and sounded just like the mythic Aussie outback male: capable, good-hearted, courageous and humorous. A fine achievement by the Children's Film Foundation, which was itself an expression of optimism as Britain emerged from a hard-draining war.
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7/10
Home Alone Meets the Spy Kids
bkoganbing16 January 2005
I'm sure that the producers of both the Home Alone movies and the Spy Kids films must have seen this one at some point in time. Bush Christmas combines good elements of both those film series and has innate charm of its own.

Australia where they never dream about a White Christmas serves as the backdrop for the kid's adventure. Children are on a quest for stolen horses after encountering the thieves Good location photography out in the outback really sets the tone for the kids. No crazy special effects, but the Australian background accents the danger of the kids search. I wish this original version had been done in color, but that was all, but unknown in the nascent Australian film industry.

I like the kids here because they are real. When you watch something like Home Alone or Spy Kids you can't forget you're seeing Hollywood personalities no matter how talented they are. These Aussie kids are real and charming.

Finally to recommend this film is the presence of the first real star who worked and developed the Australian cinema. Chips Rafferty plays Long Bill, one of the horse thieves and even though he's the bad guy, he's a likable cuss as he is in all his films.

At 6'5" Chips is kind of hard to miss and he doesn't exactly have matinée idol looks. But whenever I do see him, I think he represents Australia the same way Maurice Chevalier became an international Frenchman or Harry Lauder is the quintessential Scot. He's tough, he's funny and he had to be the inspiration for Crocidile Dundee. He never gave a bad performance in anything he ever did.

This one is recommended for Australians wherever they might be on this old globe of our's.
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7/10
Unique Australian kids adventure.
alembic4 January 2002
Interesting mainly ( for adults point of view ) for it's glimpse into a by-gone era of outback life in post-war Australia. We see the children on horseback being allowed to camp in the Australian bush by themselves with a high level of self-sufficiency. The Australian bush adds a splendid back-drop ( almost a "lost world" feel ) to the story.

Well acted by the young cast and supported by able adult actors as well. This original version shot in black and white has a unique quirky feel to it. For the kids it's a fun kids vs bad guys story too.
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