form Oh What A Night single work   film/TV   humour  
Adaptation of Oh What a Night George Wallace 1928
First known date: 1932 Issue Details: First known date: 1932... 1932 Oh What A Night
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A short film adaptation of George Wallace's 1930 sketch, Oh What a Night sees a married couple John and Mary bicker as they prepare for bed. Then the wife thinks she hears a burglar. In the ensuing mayhem their neighbour, Mrs Malone, comes to investigate and is mistaken for the burglar by John who knocks her out. They put her in to bed but when her husband Mike turns up John jumps under the covers to hide thinking it’s the burglar. Malone discovers them in bed together and the riotous shenanigans continue.

In a review of the the April 1931 live staging at Brisbane's Theatre Royal, the Telegraph's theatre critic wrote: 'A sketch entitled "Oh! What a Night," reveals George Wallace as a drunken husband, who gels into complications by hitting his neighbour's wife on the head in mistake for a burglar. Phil Baker makes an attractive wife and Jack Ashworth a ludicrously foolish policeman' ('Theatre Royal.' 13 April 1932, p.3). In the Efftee Film Productions script Wallace's character does not appear to be intoxicated, however. Much of the humour in the opening segment is, however, developed through the husband and wife's. At 14 minutes duration, the filmed version appears to have remained largely faithful to the theatrical sketch in most other respects.


  • Interestingly, although Frank Thring is officially credited as the short's director, it has been speculated that Wallace himself oversaw the direction of the piece - especially given that it is heavily-based on his stage version.
  • Oh What a Night was favourably received by critics and audiences alike during the early 1930s. The first known screening, as part of an Efftee Entertainers presentation, appears to have been at Adelaide's Regent Theatre on 23 April. The feature film was Pat Hanna's Diggers. Indeed its popularity was such that it was also included in the pre-feature entertainment during Beaumont Smith's The Hayseeds season at Sydney' Civic Theatre (from early December 1933 through until February the following year).

    At the 1952 Olinda film festival a number of 'old Australian comedies' were screened, some for the first time in several decades. Their popularity with audiences saw Hoyts Theatres revive four films made by Pat Hanna and George Wallace (including Hanna's Diggers and Wallace's Harmony Row and Oh What a Night). An Age film critic, writing about the Albany Theatrette screening in Melbourne in September that year suggested that it served as a reminder of the commercial success of Australia's earlier films ('Our Own.' Age 18 September 1952, p.2).

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This entry has been sourced from research undertaken by Dr Clay Djubal into Australian-written popular music theatre (ca. 1850-1930). See also the Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Last amended 2 Nov 2016 16:29:37
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