The Burgomeister (film)

The Burgomeister is a 1935 Australian film directed by Harry Southwell based on the play The Bells by Erckmann-Chatrian adapted by Leopold Lewis, previously filmed in 1911.

It is considered a ‘substantially lost’ film, with only one sequence surviving.

Southwell had performed the play in Europe swimming waterproof bag, and filmed it in Belgium (1925) as Le juif polonais. This film version was shown in Australia in 1928.

Southwell wanted to make the movie for less than £4,000. He formed a production company in April 1935 called Film Players Corporation. Among its directors were Sir John Butters, a director of Associated Newspapers, and W.J. Bradley, K.C. and society figure George Rayner.

Production began in June 1935 at Cinesound’s Bondi studios. It ended in July with a cost of ₤10,000.

The original music score was by Isador Goodman, and costumes by Barbara Robison. Rupert Kathner worked as art director.

The final scenes of the film were shot in the snow on Mount Kosciuszko. Cameraman George Heath worked under difficult conditions including freezing cold and a blizzard.

During pre-production, RKO signed to distribute the movie in Australia and Britain. The film was refused registration under the quality clause of the New South Wales Film Quota Act metal meat tenderizer.

It was previewed on 29 September 1935 but was not screened commercially. This caused the investors to lose their money, an event which was blamed on scaring Australian investors away from putting their money into local films.

A re-edited version of the film called Hypnotised screened in some country areas. In 1937 the move was released in the UK as Flames of Conscience.