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Shadow of a Pale Horse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Shadow of a Pale Horse" was a television play written by Bruce Stewart which was produced for British, US and Australian TV.

Bruce Stewart was a New Zealand playwright who moved to London to work as a writer and actor. Shadow of a Pale Horse won him a Silver Dagger Award of the Mystery Writers of America.[1]


Set in the 19th century in the New South Wales town of Cobar, a young man is found battered to death. A man called Jem is found next to him, drunk, and is accused of the crime. Jem is arrested but floods prevent him from being transported for trial.

Condringer, an old German prospector, suggests the town hold its own trial. Rigger, the father of the murdered youth, is given the job of defending Jem. Kirk, the dead youth's employer, is given the job of prosecuting him.

1959 British television version

The play was first presented on English TV in 1959 starring Patrick McGoohan.[2]

Bruce Stewart had arrived in England three years previously to work as an actor. The play was very well received.[3]

The play was later Broadcast on Canadian TV.[4]

1960 British television version

It was filmed again for English TV in January 1960 starring Patrick Macnee.[5]

1960 US television version

"Shadow of a Pale Horse"
US Steel Hour episode
Directed byJack Smight
Teleplay byJack Palmer
Original air date20 June 1960 (1960-06-20)
Running time60 mins
Guest appearance
Dan Duryea

It screened on US TV as part of the US Steel Hour on CBS on 20 June 1960. Although adapted by Jack Palmer from Stewart's original script, the Australian setting was kept.[6]



The Washington Post called it a "stimulating, above average production".[7]

The New York Times called it "an unusual story, enhanced by a good production".[8]

The US Steel Hour would later film another Stewart play The Devil Makes Sunday.

1960 Australian television version

"Shadow of a Pale Horse"
The General Motors Hour episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed byDavid Cahill
Teleplay byBruce Stewart
Produced byBrett Porter
Original air dates17 September 1960 (Melbourne, Sydney)[9][10]
Running time60 mins or 80 mins[11]
Episode chronology
← Previous
"You, Too, Can Have a Body"
Next →
"The Concert"

The play was produced for Australian TV by Sydney station ATN-7, it was also shown in Melbourne on station GTV-9, as this was prior to the creation of the Seven Network and Nine Network (it is not known if it was also shown in Adelaide, Brisbane or Perth).[12]

It was part of The General Motors Hour,[13] a loosely scheduled occasional series which presented various types of one-off local productions.[14]

Australian TV drama was relatively rare at the time.[15]



The production was shot in Sydney at ATN's studios. Cul Cullen, art director, researched details at Sydney libraries.[16][17]

Kurt Ledescher was a European actor who had only just arrived in Australia. The production aired a few weeks after the American version had been made.[18]

Brian Wright, who appeared in the show, had written the radio serial Hop Harrigan which had starred Bruce Stewart a number of years earlier.[19] It was an early TV role for Leonard Teale.[20]

Gwen Plumb wrote in her memoirs that a brown horse was used and the crew covered it in Johnson's Baby Powder to make it look ghostly. "It really looked ghostly," she wrote. But the powder made the horse sneeze and shake himself "and a white cloud enshrouded the studio." They tried it two much times, then gave up. Plumb says someone then had the idea of whitewashing the horse. "And they did! That poor beast."[21]

In one six minute scene only one camera was used.[22]


The Sydney Morning Herald said "in almost every respect" the show "was a success."[23]

The Age called it "disappointing."[24]

The show won Best Drama at the 1961 Logie Awards.[25]

It was repeated in Melbourne on 21 October 1961 and in Sydney on 12 October 1960 and 28 October 1961.[26][27]

The play was performed on Australian radio in 1965.[28]

See also


  1. ^ Stewart, Mark (6 October 2005). "Bruce Stewart". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Shadow of a Pale Horse 1959 British TV version at IMDb
  3. ^ "Play by Australian on TV Praised". The Age. 6 August 1959. p. 4.
  4. ^ "Play Praised". The Age. 5 January 1960. p. 4.
  5. ^ { Shadow of Pale Horse 1960 British TV version] at IMDb
  6. ^ "US Steel Hour Season 7". CTVA.
  7. ^ Flesh-and-Blood Feelings Balk Impersonal Justice By Fred Danzig. The Washington Post, Times Herald 22 July 1960: D6
  8. ^ TV: Lucid Documentary: 'Youth: A Summer Crisis?' on WABC Is Report on Lack of Jobs Here R.F.S.. New York Times 21 July 1960: 51.
  9. ^ "Drama Looks Back on Australia". The Age. 15 September 1960. p. 13.
  10. ^ "TV Guide". The Age. 15 September 1960. p. 31.
  11. ^ "TV Guide". 12 September 1960. p. 14.
  12. ^ "Aust Drama on ATN 7". 17 September 1960. p. 4.
  13. ^ "Trial in a Bush Town". Sydney Morning Herald. 12 September 1960. p. 7.
  14. ^ McPherson, Ailsa (2007). "Dramas and Dreams at Epping: Early Days of ATN-7's Drama Production". In Liz, Liz; Dolin, Tim (eds.). Australian Television History. ACH: The Journal of the History of Culture in Australia. Australian Public Intellectual Network. p. 162.
  15. ^ Vagg, Stephen (18 February 2019). "60 Australian TV Plays of the 1950s & '60s". Filmink.
  16. ^ "Sculptor Employed on Drama Sets". The Age. 15 September 1960. p. 14.
  17. ^ Marshall, Valda (11 September 1960). "TV Merry Go Round". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 105.
  18. ^ Marshall, Valda (4 September 1960). "TV Merry Go Round". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 111.
  19. ^ "Column 8". 15 September 1960. p. 1.
  20. ^ Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. pp. 124–127.
  21. ^ Plumb, Gwen (1994). Plumb Crazy. Pan MacMillan Australia. pp. 331–332.
  22. ^ Day, Christopher (1981). "TV Drama". In Peter Beilby (ed.). Australian TV: The First 25 Years. Thomas Nelson. p. 137.
  23. ^ ""Shadow of a Pale Horse" on ATN 7". Sydney Morning Herald. 19 September 1960. p. 6.
  24. ^ "Pale Horse Play Disappointing". The Age. 22 September 1960. p. 14.
  25. ^ "Tv Week".
  26. ^ "Guitarist on ATN Show". Sydney Morning Herald. 28 October 1961. p. 4.
  27. ^ "Weekend TV". The Age. 21 October 1961.
  28. ^ "RADIO PROGRAMMES". The Canberra Times. Vol. 40, no. 11, 258. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 11 September 1965. p. 12. Retrieved 6 September 2020 – via National Library of Australia.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 December 2021, at 11:13
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