Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The (1978)

Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The (1978)

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith deals with the plight of a half-caste aborigine, Jimmie Blacksmith – very movingly portrayed by non-actor Tommy Lewis.

Set in central-western New South Wales in the 1890s, Jimmie is inevitably and tragically caught between the white society to which he aspires (he was raised by missionaries) and the aboriginal life which the white man has irreversibly corrupted.


As a half-caste, Jimmie is constantly being exploited by the white bosses whose approval he so conscientiously seeks and is cut off from the natural world of his black ancestors.

Pushed beyond endurance when his latest employers, the Newbys, withhold food from him and his hapless white wife, Gilda (Angela Punch McGregor), in an attempt to persuade her to leave Jimmie, he embarks on a bloodbath from which there is no turning back.


Taking to the bush with his fully-black half-brother Mort (Freddy Reynolds) Jimmie finds only temporary concealment but no comfort and his bloody end coincides with the birth of Australian nationhood and talk of Federation.

Based on a novel by Thomas Keneally, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith had a budget of more than $1.2 million and was the most expensive Australian film made up to that time.

Despite the publicity attending the film’s making – the depth of rage on screen was absolutely unprecedented in Australian film at the time – and generally glowing reviews, the film failed commercially.

Jimmie Blacksmith
Tommy Lewis
Freddy Reynolds

Ray Barrett
Reverend Neville

Jack Thompson
Martha Neville

Julie Dawson 
Gilda Marshall

Angela Punch McGregor
Uncle Tabidgi

Steve Dodds 

Peter Carroll
Mrs McCready

Robyn Nevin 
Mr Jack Newby

Don Crosby
Mrs Heather Newby

Ruth Cracknell 
Miss Gray
Elizabeth Alexander 
Dowie Steed

Peter Sumner 

Tim Robertson 
Mrs Healey

Jane Harders
Dud Edmonds

Ray Meagher 

Brian Anderson  
Harry Edwards

Jack Charles

Gregory Apps

John Bowman 
J.C. Thomas

Michael Carman

Bill Charlton

Liddy Clark
Timmy Newby 

Matthew Crosby
Peter Newby
Marshall Crosby
Vera Newby
Katie Lillie
Jane Newby
Rosie Lillie

Ian Gilmour 

Ken Grant 

Alan Hardy 

John Jarratt
Justine Saunders
Mirvin Drake

Fred Schepisi