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Lottie Lyell

The Home Front: Australia during the First World War

Lottie Lyell, actor and filmmaker

Lottie Lyel
Lottie Lyell, 1919. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Lottie Lyell was Australia’s first movie star. She was also a screenwriter, editor, art director and business manager. In her short career, she appeared in at least 17 films and, with director Raymond Longford, collaborated on many more. Set against a distinctly Australian background, these films played on the contrasts between city and country, upper and working class, and England and Australia.

By 1914, movies had become a national obsession. Humble suburban picture palaces and grand city theatres catered to a wide audience. Programs included several short non-fiction films, some comedies, a newsreel and a feature. Cheaper than the theatre, a trip to the pictures was an escape available to many.

The Bronte Picture Palace
The Bronte Picture Palace, Sydney, about 1910. Local Studies Collection, Waverley Library.