Captain Carvallo

Captain Carvallo is a traditional comedy play in three acts by Denis Cannan, telling the story of a philandering young army officer, Captain Carvallo.

The comedy was an immediate success when it opened at the St. James Theatre on 9 August 1950, as the second production under Sir Laurence Olivier's management.

A television production of the play was broadcast on the BBC the following year, with Patrick Macnee in the lead. Cannan adapted the play himself for a Rediffusion production later that decade. In 1988 the play was revived at the Greenwich Theatre. A version aired on Australian television in 1958.[1]


Smila Darde, wife of Caspar Darde, a farmer and lay preacher who is also a partisan, is asked for billet Captain Carvallo, an enemy officer. Her husband and his fellow partisan, Professor Winke, a biologist, are commanded to kill Carvallo but they discover they like him too much.

Original productionEdit

The play was first tried out in March 1950 at the Bristol Old Vic, where Cannan was acting at the time. A few months later, Laurence Olivier boldly restaged the play – billed as a "traditional comedy" – at the St James's theatre in London, with James Donald in the lead role, opposite Diana Wynyard.[2] It was a great success, although Cannan preferred the Bristol production.[citation needed] "His play shimmers with ideas wittily juxtaposed, and it is funnier than the Crazy Gang", wrote the critic Harold Hobson.[citation needed]

Original cast (St. James Theatre, 1950)Edit

Character Actor
Captain Carvallo James Donald
Smilja Darde Diana Wynyard
Professor Winke Peter Finch
Caspar Darde Richard Goolden
Private Gross Thomas Heathcote
Anni Jill Bennett
The Baron Anthony Pelly

1958 Australian TV versionEdit

Captain Carvallo
Based onplay by Dennis Cannan
Directed byWilliam Sterling
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
CinematographyRay Hammond[5]
Running time60 mins
Production companyABC
Original release21 May 1958 (1958-05-21) (Melbourne, live)[3]
16 June 1958 (1958-06-16) (Sydney)[4]

It was the first "live" play produced from the new studios of the A.B.C. in Melbourne, which had opened on 21 May 1958.[6]


  • Neil Fitzpatrick as Carvallo
  • Mary Ward
  • Syd Conabere
  • Frank Gatliff


The play had been performed in theatres in Australia in the early 1950s.[7]

It had been performed on Australian radio in 1957 with Ray Barrett.[8]

It was the first presentation at the ABC's new studio at Rippon Lea, Melbourne. At that point, the ABC were using a small studio at Rippon Lea and telecasting its bigger productions from Coppin Hall. A third studio at Rippon Lea would be open in September.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Captain Carvallo (TV movie 1958) at IMDb
  2. ^ "PETER FINCH SCORES IN NEW STAGE PLAY". The Daily Telegraph. Vol. XV, no. 121. Sydney. 11 August 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 26 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "TV Guide". The Age. 16 March 1958. p. 33.
  4. ^ "TV Guide". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 June 1958. p. 16.
  5. ^ "Untitled". The Age. 23 May 1958. p. 21.
  6. ^ "Melbourne Comedy". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 June 1958. p. 15.
  7. ^ "Shrewd caricature in neat play". The Herald. No. 23, 369. Melbourne. 18 April 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 26 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "RADIO PLAYS for NEXT WEEK A.B.C". ABC Weekly. 16 February 1957. p. 20.
  9. ^ "BBC Live Play to Open TV Studio". The Age. 20 March 1959. p. 11.