The life and times of Ned Kelly has inspired more Australian films and documentaries than any other Australian story.
Apart from 35 films and television documentaries, the cataloguing crew from the National Film and Sound Archive report that in its vault are more than 300 items relating to the infamous bushranger.
However, when you mention Ned Kelly in the Canberra region, there's only one film that's spoken about. It's of course the Tony Richardson directed 1970 film where Kelly is curiously played by Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger.
Apart from its flamboyant star, Ned Kelly is remembered for two main reasons. Firstly, it was filmed locally, in Braidwood and surrounds, and secondly because of the swathe of unflattering reviews it received.
Among a genre of films that includes The Glenrowan Affair (1951) in which Aussie Rules footballer Bob Chitty basically ran around with a bucket on his head, and which was described by the Sun-Herald "as one of the worst films ever made in Australia", that's saying something.
Despite the film's caustic reviews, the film did shine the spotlight on Braidwood for several months before and during filming in 1969, and half a century on it's hard to find anyone in the heritage-listed town who doesn't know at least someone who was involved in the film.
One lady who remembers the filming as if it were yesterday is 92-year-old Ros Maddrell. At the time when the Jagger bandwagon rolled into town, Maddrell and her husband managed Braidwood's Royal [Mail] Hotel.
"For Braidwoodites it was something different," recalls Maddrell, adding, "it was a new adventure for everyone, plus many got 10 quid as an extra to dress up, which was a lot of money in those days."
While Maddrell fondly recalls the excitement the filming brought to town, she doesn't reflect quite so positively on the truck loads of red dirt dumped on the main street.
"They had the dirt trucked in to cover the bitumen for three days while filming," she reports.
"As you can imagine, running the pub and having it trampled through the pub was no fun."
But there were, of course benefits for the pub. With many of the cast and crew (but not Jagger who wisely stayed out of town) bunking down there - it certainly filled the pub's coffers.
"Of an evening the crew would reserve the private lounge and recap on the days filming," recalls Maddrell.
"We'd put on a couple of chooks rotisserie for them as they always arrived back after the chef had left.
"They would watch what they'd filmed during the day in private.
"We weren't even allowed near the doors, unless it was to deliver them more drinks."
And there were lots of them.
"They drank more champagne and high-end brandy than the hotel has ever seen," she muses.
As to Jagger, Maddrell says "while he couldn't ride a horse to save himself, but he did endear himself to a couple of local ladies".
Apparently the duo hailed from the same English village as Jagger's parents and when Jagger found out he offered to pay for their dinner and drinks every night for 10 days. "They had a ball, it was the best two weeks of their life," Maddrell says.
Fifty years on and many younger generations would have never seen the film (some would say thankfully), but thanks to the Braidwood Film Club, it will screen next weekend at the town's historic National Theatre.
When your Akubra-clad columnist visited Braidwood earlier this week, the town was abuzz, with chat of the 50th anniversary celebrations, especially at the Braidwood Museum where volunteers were busy preparing to transport some of their treasured film exhibits temporarily to the theatre.
This includes the very armour worn by Jagger, which is made of aluminium and much lighter than the original armour worn by Kelly. That was incredible heavy (45 kilograms) and is now on display in the State Library of Victoria.
The film club has contacted Mick Jagger to request some words from him to be relayed to the audience on Saturday night. However, given Jagger disowned the film before its premiere, claiming he only accepted the role "because he had nothing else to do", if he does send through a missive, I just hope it's censored before being read out.
Should be a fun night.
Ned Kelly - the film: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the filming of Tony Richardson's Ned Kelly, there will be a gala screening at Braidwood's National Theatre (100 Wallace Street) on Saturday, October 26 at 7pm. Doors open from 6pm. Free admission.
Expect: Plenty of film memorabilia on display courtesy of the Braidwood Museum (186 Wallace Street). Also there will be a bar facility (I guess Mick Jagger wouldn't have had it any other way) and food available.
Did You Know? Until the filming of Ned Kelly, the iconic hotel on the corner of Wallace and Park Lane in Braidwood was simply known as "The Royal". The producers of the film requested the pub's name be temporarily changed to "The Royal Mail" as that was the name of the pub in Jerilderie that Ned Kelly held up. "It took so much effort to change the name through Tooheys, who owned the pub, that after the film we didn't worry about changing it back," recalls Ros Maddrell, who managed the pub with her husband at the time.
Did You Know? While filming Kelly's final shootout with the police, Mick Jagger was injured when a pistol loaded with blanks backfired in his hand. He was rushed to hospital in Canberra where surgeons removed the offending metal fragments.
Over the years, several readers of this column have reported their own encounters with the filming of Ned Kelly in Braidwood.
Shell-shocked: In 1969 Neal Gowen of Kaleen "set off for a picnic with friends and stumbled on the filming in the main street of Braidwood." Neal and his mates stopped and took a few photos of the set, some of which he rediscovered more than 40 years later.
"For all the time they were in Braidwood, there was not a lot on the screen - mainly the scenes of Mick Jagger robbing the bank which is on the corner of Duncan St," reports Neal. He was also none too impressed with the film's music, which featured the late American singer Waylon Jennings. "It was terrible, it didn't quite complement the Southern Tablelands landscape, or Australian folk tunes," Neal says.
After the 1969 shoot wound up, Neal reports his father, Jim, picked up some artefacts left lying around town. "These included the sign of the pub (which was subsequently donated to the Queanbeyan Museum) and a handful of old bullet casings (blanks of course) from the Captains Flat railway line where the train ambush scene was filmed".
Whipped into line: Julie Pangalos, of Richardson, reports that her husband's uncle, Jack Burraston, tried (reportedly without much luck) to teach Jagger how to ride a horse.
According to Julie, "after the filming of Ned Kelly, Jagger sent Jack a whip as a gift, thanking him for all his help." Unfortunately the whip has been lost, but Julie's mother-in-law still has the letter that Jagger penned to Jack and which accompanied the whip.
Pantihose secret: Jackie Bierzonski, of Malua Bay, helped her mum clean the film crew's administrative office, which was upstairs in the Dudley's Chambers in Queanbeyan.
"I remember disposing of lots of bins piled high and over flowing with empty liquor bottles," reports Jackie, who cheekily reveals, "apparently it was so bitterly cold that it was well-known Mick Jagger wore pantihose under his trousers to keep warm".
WHERE IN THE REGION?
Cryptic Clue: Hoops
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Last week: Congratulations to Hans Zandbergen of Kingston who was the first reader to correctly identify last week's photo (below) as the long line of garages and accommodation at the rear of the Kingston Hotel. The clue of "misnomer" related to the fact the historic watering hole is actually in the suburb of Griffith and not, as you'd expect, Kingston.
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday, October 19, 2019 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.
Earlier this week while flying over Lake George, experienced Canberra microlight pilot Andrew Luton spotted a piano on the dry lake bed. Yes, a piano.
Away from prying eyes of motorists on the Federal Highway the piano is located near the southern end of the lake.
Andrew explains he has "seen plenty of old pint sized beer bottles half-buried and the old wave monitoring tower, but the piano takes first place for random things I've seen at the lake."
After landing his Airborne Microlight, Andrew posed for a selfie with the ornately crafted piano, which he reports "worked, but was a bit out of tune".
It's not the first piano photographed on the lake bed. In 2006, Evermore filmed a music video for their single, Light Surrounding You on a partially-muddy Lake George. One of the props used was a piano, reportedly the very same instrument Geoffrey Rush played in Shine (1996).
"This piano hasn't sunk into the ground much and I fly past there every couple of months, so it can't have been there long," reports Andrew, who, like your Akubra-clad columnist wonders how it got there, and more importantly, why. Someone must know.