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Borders of the national family in King of the Coral Sea (1954)

Landman, Jane (2009) Borders of the national family in King of the Coral Sea (1954). Studies in Australasian Cinema, 3 (1). ISSN 1750-3175

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Abstract

This article examines the genial 1950s matinee-styled adventure, King of the Coral Sea, a film set on Thursday Island. With Chips Rafferty playing pearling lugger captain Ted King, the film extends Rafferty's previous iconic national repertoire of digger, drover and bushman in an unprecedented (in entertainment cinema) imaginative ‘nationalization’ of the Torres Strait. The article proposes that the narrative – concerning the protection of the nation's daughters and borders from the threat of shadowy European illegal migration – can be read as a fantastic reversal of power relations in the post-war Pacific, where Australian multiracial enterprise is ably supported by American muscle. It locates the production and reception of the film within the discursive habitat of popular illustrated magazines, focusing on the visual deployment of race and gender in respect to assimilationist anxieties that form part of the imagining of a modern ‘Australian way of life’. It further considers how this discourse shapes the deployment of the Torres Strait in a diegetic and extradiegetic relay, in order to imagine an established nationhood for Australia.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ResPubID16947, film history, Australian history, Pacific colonialism, Australian nationhood, Australian film stars, Chips Rafferty
Subjects: Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
FOR Classification > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media
SEO Classification > 9502 Communication
Related URLs:
Depositing User: VUIR
Date Deposited: 04 May 2012 00:14
Last Modified: 04 May 2012 00:14
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/4402
DOI: 10.1386/sac.3.1.61_1
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