Nickel Queen was an Australian comedy film released in 1971 starring Googie Withers and directed by her husband John McCallum. The story was loosely based on the Poseidon bubble, a nickel boom in Western Australia in the late 1960s, and tells of an outback pub owner who stakes a claim and finds herself an overnight millionaire.
Finance was raised from a Perth syndicate, which included TVW Channel Seven and Fauna Productions in Sydney, with the credits showing that the movie was made by Woomera Productions. A number of TVW staff are in the Parmelia Hotel scene, where John Hudson has a part as the television interviewer, with Rick Rogers as the radio interviewer. Lu Belci is seen as the News cine-cameraman.
The Government of Western Australia provided valuable assistance with the making of the film. There were appearances by Sir David Brand the Premier of Western Australia, The Hon. Charles Court (later Sir Charles) the Minister for Industrial Development and The Hon. Arthur Griffith the Minister for Mines.
Nickel Queen (1971) with John Hudson as TV interviewer
WA TV History
The “Nickel Queen” was made in Western Australia with TVW Channel 7 in Perth as a major investor. It was a tiny budget compared to todays movies, though incredible saving were achieved by innovative management.
The film came about after TVW got in touch with John McCallum (1918–2010), an actor, producer and director, who was the executive producer of the popular Australian television series “Skippy” (1968-1970).
The “Nickel Queen” starred McCallum’s wife Googie Withers (1917–2011), an English film and television actress. The Perth actors Eileen Colocott and Maurice Ogden can be recognised in this clip.
It was made during the mining boom known as the Poseidon bubble. A stock market bubble in which the price of Australian mining shares soared in late 1969, then crashed in early 1970. In 1974, the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange (better known as the Rae Committee) handed down its report on the Poseidon bubble, in which it documented numerous cases of improper trade practices. It recommended a number of changes to the regulation of stock markets, which ultimately led to Australia’s national companies and securities legislation.
The Liberal State government of Sir David Brand was most helpful. McCallum was intent on getting things done as cheap as possible and TVW’s General Manager (later Managing Director) Sir James Cruthers remembers that McCallum offered too many people tickets to the opening night as an incentive. TVW invested $150,000, Fauna Films invested $150,000 and $200,000 was raised from local investors.
Sir James also remembers the incredible situation with the nightclub scene where the public were paid $10 and fed in the process, to appear as extras. Though they had to pay for their own drinks.
The world premier of the “Nickel Queen” was held on April Fools day 1971, and the critics were not entirely favourable. There was terrible antipathy between the newspapers and television at that time.
It was a time when Lang Hancock and E. A. “Peter” Wright founded The Sunday Independent newspaper (weekly) in the glow of the mining boom. The first issue came out in April 1969. The Sunday Times’ owners, News Corporation acquired it in 1984 and it was wound up in May 1986.
The best of the “Nickel Queen” movie premiers was four days later in Kalgoorlie, where everyone recognised their friends. The audience drowned out the sound of the movie with their excitement.
Nickel Queen (Full Movie)
The “Nickel Queen” full movie length version of 1 hour 24 minutes