Andrew Pike is a film distributor, historian and documentary film-maker. With Ross Cooper, he co-authored Australian Film 1900-1977 (published by OUP). His company, Ronin Films, has distributed many Asian and Australian films including STRICTLY BALLROOM (1992) and SHINE (1996), and today specialises in documentaries. In 2007, he was awarded an OAM for his services to the film industry, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra. His documentaries as director include THE CHIFLEYS OF BUSBY STREET, EMILY IN JAPAN and MESSAGE FROM MUNGO (co-directed with Ann McGrath), and he has produced many others.
I have known Andrew professionally and personally for fifteen years or more and the bio he wrote above doesn't even begin to cover his achievements or his place in cinema history. Ask our mates at Google.
January 2017: My New Year's resolution has already been put into effect - to get all of my books, and my father's books, out of boxes and onto shelves. So after several trips to Ikea and a bruised thumb, have achieved my goal. All available wall space now has book-shelves, and there are very few boxes left. A little bit of judicious culling will get rid of the remainder in due course. Treasures are emerging frequently: books I’d forgotten (and in some cases had bought again), and also books that I was totally unaware of.
The first treasure to emerge from my father’s collection is a well-worn paperback edition of Have Patience Delaney!, an Australian crime novel from the 1950s, by one Bant Singer. I read with great pleasure what my father had obviously enjoyed too, given the crumpled state of the book. It's a very readable and cleverly plotted Aussie version of Chandler, written in the first person in tough guy Aussie slang. Checking on-line, Bant Singer was one of many pseudonyms used by a prolific writer of fiction, non-fiction and verse, Charles Shaw, who apparently contributed much to the Bulletin (a badge of honour!). The name Bant Singer came from his car, a Singer Bantam, of which he was apparently very proud.
Singer’s text is often repetitious which speaks of haste and a lack of editing, but his dialogues are convincingly uncouth, and the setting is a most credible countr town battling poverty, with people being driven to crime to survive, while the big end of town is corrupt and nastily arrogant. The novel deserves to be re-printed and I for one would be pleased to read the other novels in the Delaney series (apparently four in total).
The author’s one big international best-seller was Heaven Knows Mr Allison (written under his real name), which I now must find and read: I have a feeling it will have more muscle than the cuteness that pervades the John Huston movie made in 1957 with Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr as wartime castaways on a Pacific island. The movie won an Oscar for Best Screenplay adapted from another source, which must have made Charles Shaw proud. I hope he got paid well for the rights. It’s a pity that he didn’t have other winners to consolidate his position as a best-selling author.
But Have Patience Delaney! alone makes my new year's resolution worthwhile! Next treasure to be revealed soon on these pages!
- Andrew Pike