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Ned Kelly was the subject for the world's first feature film made in Australia in 1906. "The Story of the Kelly Gang" has been added to a United Nations heritage register, joining a list of fewer than 200 items on UNESCO's Memory of the World register, including the family archives of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel and the official trial records of Nelson Mandela. But it wasn’t until 1980 when the highly acclaimed eight-hour mini-series, The Last Outlaw, told the complete Kelly story, with John Jarratt giving the most physically accurate portrayal of Ned Kelly seen to date. In this section you’ll find everything you’ll need to know about Ned Kelly on film. From the 1906 Story of the Kelly Gang through to the 1970 Ned Kelly starring Mick Jagger and the 2003 version Ned Kelly starring Heath Ledger. Don’t forget to check out our DVD section covering all the movies available based on the subject of Ned Kelly and to round it all off, our Documentary section.

1906 The Story Of The Kelly Gang

scene from The Story of the Kelly GangProducers: John Tait, Nevin Tait, Millard Johnson and William Gibson
Charles Tait
Film Location:
Mitcham, Victoria
Running Time:
60 minutes (approximately)

Nicholas Brierley
Godfrey Cass
Bella Cola
Vera Linden
Frank Mills
EJ Tait
Elizabeth Tait
Frank Tait
John Tait
Ollie Wilson

The world's first feature-length movie was directed by Charles Tait and filmed at the Tait family's Chartersville Estate in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg. Originally there were no intertitles; narration was performed by an onstage lecturer who also provided sound effects including gunfire and hoofbeats. It cost £1000 to make, but that money and more was recovered within its first week of screening. It premiered in Melbourne on Boxing Day 1906, and was later shown across Australia, in New Zealand and in Britain. [more]

Further reading:
Australian Screen movie review
Kelly Gang film makes UN heritage list

Kelly Gang rides into history

1920 The Kelly Gang

scene from The Kelly GangDirector: Harry Southwell
Godfrey Cass ... Ned Kelly

Welsh-born filmmaker Charles Southwell had a vision: to present the great drama of the Kelly saga on the Australian screen. He laboured at this task for 15 years, producing three films of indifferent quality along the way - The Kelly Gang, When the Kellys Were Out, and When The Kellys Rode. Southwell's endeavours were hampered by political sensitivities, with any pro-Kelly material liable to be banned.

1923 When The Kellys Were Out

scene from When The Kellys Were OutWriter: Harry Southwell
Harry Southwell
Harry Southwell
Tasman Higgins

Godfrey Cass ... Ned Kelly
Charles Villiers ... Dan Kelly
William Ellison ... Steve Hart
Allan Douglas ... Joe Byrne
Rose Rooney ... Kate Kelly
Rita Aslin ... Ellen Kelly
Harry Southwell ... Aaron Sherritt
Fred Twitcham ... Constable McIntyre
Syd Everett ... Sergeant Steele
Mervyn Barrington ... Sergeant Kennedy
W. Ryan ... Constable Fitzpatrick
Dunstan Webb ... Superintendent Nicholson

1934 When The Kellys Rode

When The Kellys RodeProducer: Harry Southwell
British Empire Films
Production Company:
Imperial Feature Films

Hay Simpson ... Ned Kelly
Regina Somerville
John Appleton
Norman Wait

Click here to view: Promotional Stills

1951 The Glenrowan Affair

scene from The Glenrowan AffairWritter: Rupert Kathner
Rupert Kathner
Rupert Kathner
Running Time:
66 minutes
Associate Producer:
Alma Brooks
Photographer (interior):
Harry Malcolm
Photographer (exterior):
Rupert Kathner
Alex Ezard
Assistant Director:
Bill Crowe
Charles “Bud” Tingwell

Bob Chitty ... Ned Kelly
Ben Crowe ... Dan Kelly
Larry Crowhurst ... Joe Byrne
Bill Crowe ... Steve Hart
Rupert Kathner ... Aaron Sherritt
Alma King ... Kate Kelly
John Fernside ... Father Gibney
Frank Ransome ... Sergeant Steele
Charles Tasman ... Commissioner Nicholson
George Webb ... Supt. Hare
Edward Smith ... Mr. Standish
Alan Bardsley ... Old Man
Arthur Hemsley ... Barfly

Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Albie Henderson
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Stan Tolhurst
Bill Wright

The Glenrowan Affair features the bushranging exploits of Ned Kelly and his “wild colonial boys” on their journey of treachery, violence, murder and terror. Told from the perspective of an aging Dan Kelly in present day Benalla, Kathner presents the narrative as a factual retelling despite his obvious embellishment of the Kelly myth. The production of the film generated more controversy than the film itself due to creative fallouts between Kathner and the film’s original director, Harry Southwell (The Kelly Gang 1920, When the Kelly’s Were Out 1923, When the Kelly’s Rode 1934) and the casting of local football hero, Bob Chitty as Ned Kelly. Bob Chitty was famed and feared as one of the toughest men ever to play Australian Rules football. The Carlton strongman was cast as Ned Kelly in this movie by Rupert Kathner, which was narrated by popular actor Charles 'Bud' Tingwell. The project was ambitious, but critics were not kind.

1960 Stringybark Massacre

Director: Gary Shead

Garry Shead’s avante-guard filmmaking techniques result in a stylish re-creation of the murder of three police officers at Stringybark, Victoria by Australian bush outlaw, Ned Kelly.

1960 Ned Kelly

Director: Tim Burstall

This superbly crafted short film explores the legend of Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, through the modernist paintings of internationally acclaimed Australian artist Sidney Nolan and an accompanying bush ballad.

1970 Ned Kelly

scene from Ned KellyDirector: Tony Richardson
Writers: Tony Richardson and Ian Jones
Running Time: 103 minutes 
Studio: United Artists
Producer: Neil Hartley
Cinematography: Gerry Fisher
Editing: Charles Rees
Composer: Shel Silverstein
Production Design: Jocelyn Herbert
Art Direction: Andrew Sanders
Costume Design: Jocelyn Herbert

Mick Jagger ... Ned Kelly
Allen Bickford ... Dan Kelly
Geoff Gilmour ... Steve Hart
Mark McManus ... Joe Byrne
Serge Lazareff ... Wild Wright
Peter Sumner ... Tom Lloyd
Ken Shorter ... Aaron Sherritt
James Elliott ... Pat O'Donnell
Clarissa Kaye ... Ellen Kelly
Diane Craig ... Maggie Kelly
Sue Lloyd ... Kate Kelly
Alexi Long ... Grace Kelly
Bruce Barry ... George King
Janne Wolmsley ... Caitlyn
Ken Goodlet ... Nicholson
Nigel Lovell ... Standish
Martyn Sanderson ... Fitzpatrick
Robert Bruning ... Sgt Steele
John Laws ... Kennedy
Liam Reynolds ... Lonigan
Lindsay Smith ... McIntyre
John Gray ... Stratton
Reg Gormam ... Bracken
John Hopkins ... O'Connor
Peter Whittle ... Devine
Anne Harvey ... Mrs.Devine
Bill Charlton ... Richards
Graham Keating ... Trooper
Ben Blakeney ... Tracker
Bill Hunter ... Officer
Frank Thring ... Judge Redmond Barry
Alexander Cann ... McInnes
Gerry Duggan ... Father O'Hea
John Dease ... Whitty
Andrew Sanders ... Farrell
Patsy Dance ... Mrs Whitty
Erika Crowne ... Mrs Farrell
Tony Bazell ... Mr. Scott
Jessica Noad ... Mrs. Scott
Colin Tilley ... Bank Clerk
Tim Van Rellim ... Sportsman
Patrick McCarville ... Sportsman
Kamahl ... Gloster
Ronald Golding ... Casement
Gordon McDougall ... Tarleton
Clifford Neate ... Living
Bryan Niland ... Mackie
Doreen Warburton ... Mrs Ann Jones
Gary Fisher ... Jack Jones
Karin Altman ... Jane Jones
David Copping ... Mr Curnow
Penny Stehli ... Mrs Curnow
Francis Yin ... Sympathizer
Shirley May Donald ... Mrs Byrne
Mary Marshall ... Mrs Barry
Claire Balmford ... Nell Sherritt
Kurt Beimel ... Anton Wicks
Moshe Kedem ... Baumgarten
Keith Peterson ... Referee
Terry Erwin ... Chinese
Harry Kelly ... Aborigine
Jack Allen ... Melbourne

“Such is Life”, the infamous final words of legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, set the tone for Richardson’s folkloric bushranger tale starring the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. Ned Kelly is a retelling of the ill-fated story of Australia’s most notorious band of bushrangers. Set in the broader political context of British colonialism in late nineteenth century Australia, Richardson’s Kelly is a downtrodden Irish Catholic forced into thievery and violence by corrupt British authorities. Gerry Fishers’ superb cinematography captures the menacing threat of the Australian bush country and reinforces the tragic fate that awaits this national hero. This movie is one of the best-known versions of the Kelly story, due to the casting of British rock star Mick Jagger as the Irish-Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. Jagger's then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull was also supposed to star, but was hospitalised after an overdose and replaced by Diane Craig. The soundtrack included songs by American country singers Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Frank Thring delivered a great performance as Judge Redmond Barry. The film was directed by Tony Richardson, father of Natasha and Joely.

Click here to read more

1993 Reckless Kelly

Reckless KellyDirector: Yahoo Serious
Producer: Warwick Ross
Executive Producer: Graham Burke
Co-Producer: Lulu Serious
Running Time: 81 minutes
Screenwriters: Yahoo Serious, Warwick Ross, Lulu Serious, David Roach
Production Company: Larrikin Films, Serious Entertainment, Warner Brothers

Ned Kelly ... Yahoo Serious
Robin Banks ... Melora Hardin
Major Wib ... Alexei Sayle 
Sir John ... Hugo Weaving
Mrs Delance ... Kathleen Freeman
Mr Delance ... John Pinette
Dan Kelly ... Bob Maza
Ernie The Fan ... Martin Ferrero

Yahoo Serious’ satirical take on the Australian bushranger myth places Ned Kelly (Yahoo Serious) in a contemporary setting as a new-age outlaw on a mission to save his homeland from international bank executive and cunning arch-nemesis, Sir John (Hugo Weaving). Subverting the stereotype of the gun-totting, cattle duffing and violent bushranger, Serious’ Kelly is an anti capitalist, environmentalist Republican. Reckless Kelly’s political undertones and historical references make this a “must for all students of Australian culture" — Adrian Martin, Film Critic.

More infromation:

2003 Ned Kelly

Our Sunshine?Production Companies: WTA / Working Title Films, The Woss Group, Endymion Films
Release date: 27 March 2003

Ned Kelly ... Heath Ledger
Joe Byrne ... Orlando Bloom
Francis Hare ... Geoffrey Rush
Julia Cook ... Naomi Watts
Dan Kelly ... Laurence Kinlan
Steve Hart ... Philip Barantini
Aaron Sherritt ... Joel Edgerton
Alex Fitzpatrick ... Kiri Paramore
Kate Kelly ... Kerry Condon
Grace Kelly ... Emily Browning
Ellen Kelly ... Kris McQuade
Jane Jones ... Saskia Burmeister
The Great Orlando ... Jonathon Hardy
Thomas Lonigan ... Peter Phelps
Mr Reardon ... Peter O'Shea
Martin Cherry ... Nick Bourke
Anne Jones ... Karen Davitt
Johnny Jones ... Declan Simpson
Stanistreet ... Andrew Gilbert
Mr Scott ... Geoff Morrell
Mrs Scott ... Rachel Griffiths
Maggie ... Brooke Harman

Tim Bevan ... Executive Producer
Eric Fellner ... Executive Producer
Tim White ... Executive Producer
Nelson Woss ... Producer
Lynda House ... Producer
Debra Hayward ... Co-Producer
Liza Chasin ... Co-Producer
Robert Drewe ... Associate Producer
Gregor Jordan ... Director
John McDonagh ... Writer
Christine King ... Australian Casting
Jina Jay ... UK Casting
Oliver Stapleton ... Director of Photography
Steven-Jones Evans ... Production Designer
Anna Borghesi ... Costume Designer
Jenny Shircore ... Make-up and Hair Designer
Jon Gregory ... Film Editor
Catherine Bishop ... Line Producer

Loosely based on the story of Australian bushranger and icon, Ned Kelly, who had a brutal childhood and at 16 years of age was imprisoned for stealing a horse. Upon release four years later, Ned’s sister is assaulted and it’s Ned and his mother who are charged with attempted murder. Forced to go on the run, Ned is determined to avenge his family and strike back at the system that wrongs them all. He forms the notorious Kelly gang with his brother Dan and two other men. Making use of homemade steel helmets and chest plates to protect themselves, the four men rob a bank, hijack an entire town for three days and they kill three policemen who were hunting them. They then take over a pub in Glenrowan, where they gather, waiting for a train full of police to derail at a part of the track that they had pulled up. However, it doesn’t go according to plan and results in a shootout.

Click here to view: Original Movie Poster
Click here to read: Premiere Film Night Review

2003 Ned

Abe ForsytheDirector: Abe Forsythe

Abe Forsythe ... Ned Kelly
Nick Flint ... Dan Hughes
Damon Herriman ... Steve Hart
Josef Ber ... Joe Byrne
Felix Williamson
Michala Banas

The history of parodies in Australian cinema is littered with the celluloid carcasses of many well intentioned flicks. In that respect you must award full marks to writer, director and lead actor Abe Forsythe who put in a mammoth effort to get his idea off the ground. While the film’s concept was reported by some critics to fall short in certain areas, the good old Aussie fart joke does help push the story along at a cracking pace (and I'm still keen to discover the maximum load capacity of a miniature Shetland pony). Despite the level of toilet humour (or because of it), kids in particular should enjoy this film. There are many moments that will have to be viewed twice as the jokes are better the second time around. Ultimately I would say hire the DVD and make up your own mind. After-all it couldn't be any worse than Gregor Jordan's 'Ned Kelly'. Gregor wasn't after any laughs but he got plenty.

While not everyone wants to read about Ned Kelly or the ANZACs or even The Great Depression, we hope they want to learn something about Australian History. From the ex-Prime Minister John Howard to a confused ex-NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt (see the ex-pattern here?) a number of politicians have jumped on the teaching history bandwagon. But at what cost? From Right Wing Liberals to the multitude of State Governments, seems everyone has an agenda. We'd like to let the readers decide what is worth learning. Here at we present the facts, the fiction and everything in between. It all adds to the experience and hopefully makes History an exciting place to be while also proving it needn't always have to be written by the victors.
[site map]

Ned Kelly: A Pictorial History available on the iPad App Store
If you're looking for that perfect gift then head over to our shop where we are featuring Max Brown's 312 page hardcover limited edition novel Australian Son: the story of Ned Kelly for $34.95 with free Australia wide postage (or $14.95 international postage). All of Max's books come with a bonus Australian Son bookmark. These books are only available for purchase online (and not through book shops). Of course the money we raise goes back in to building the world's greatest Ned Kelly web site.

Australian Son by Max Brown

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