In 1890 A.B. “Banjo” Paterson wrote a poem called “The Man From Snowy River” that was published in The Bulletin and then later as a book as a collection of Australian verse. Little did he know then that the poem would spawn 2 movies and a TV show almost 100 years later.
In 1982, George Miller (not to be confused with the “other” George Miller from Australia) directed The Man From Snowy River. It starred Tom Burlinson as Jim Craig, the man in the title, as well as Kirk Douglas in a dual role as twin brothers. The female lead and love interest to Jim Craig is played by Sigrid Thornton. The film was shot and released first in Australia and then came later to the US, where it did well in the theatres but really took off when it was released on video. My family loved this movie.
The most famous scene, being the downhill gallop featured prominently in the movie and the poem, was really performed by actor Tom Burlinson, who had never ridden a horse until he was cast in the movie in the title role. This stunt is amazing and should be highlighted as a perfect moment in the film. It was shot and performed in one take. No one wanted to take any chances again, as you can see in the film , it’s quite dangerous.
The film was so popular that a sequel was produced by Disney in 1988, called Return to Snowy River in the states. Tom and Sigrid return in their roles, but due to a dispute, the Kirk Douglas role was filled by actor Brian Dennehy. The film was directed by Geoff Burrowes, the producer of the first film. It’s a fantastic sequel and makes for a perfect box set on my shelf.
As for the TV Series identified as Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (1993), let’s just say it’s inspired by the poem and really was produced to take advantage of the success of the movies. It’s actually really good in it’s own right, and features an incredible cast over it’s four year run. Among the stars were, Andrew Clarke, Brett Climo, Guy Pearce, Hugh Jackman, Josh Lucas, Victoria Tennant, Olivia Newton-John, Lee Horsely, Chad Lowe, Dean Stockwell, and Francis O’Connor. It’s really hard to find a complete set of the TV Series, but is definitely worth owning if you can find it.