Rex Rienits (17 April 1909 – 1971) was an Australian writer of radio, films, plays and TV. He was a journalist before becoming one of the leading radio writers in Australia. He moved to England in 1949[1] and worked for a number of years there.[2] He later returned to Australia and worked on early local TV drama.

According to Richard Lane Rienits "was the most affable and generous of men; warm in his friendships, generous with his time and in his efforts to help those still with the ladder to scale. Above all, he was utterly dedicated to the propagation of Australian history, art and playwriting."[3]

Early life and careerEdit

Rienits was born in Dubbo. His father was a draughtsman for the Lands Department and moved from town to town early in Rienits' life. His first job was as a copy boy on the Sydney Daily Guardian. He worked as a journalist and boxing promoter in Wagga Wagga.[4] He moved to Sydney, where he continued to work as a journalist but also wrote for radio. In the early 1930s he worked at the Community Playhouse. He also wrote two of the earliest plays for Australian radio, Midnight Interlude and For Auction.[5]

During the 1930s he mostly worked as a journalist but he also wrote radio plays in his spare time. In 1939 he helped form the Playwright's Advisory Board.[6] He served for three years in the Australian army.[7]

In the mid-1940s he prepared a document on the Eureka Rebellion which formed the basis of the 1948 film Eureka Stockade.[8] He was hired by Henry Watt of Ealing Studios to prepare a research document which was used on the film. In 1947 he quit journalism and worked for 18 months in Sydney working for Ealing and Sydney radio. Among the plays he wrote included Stormy Petrel.[9]

He later said "I realised that four or five years of this would kill any talent I had."[10]

EnglandEdit

Rienits moved to England in early 1949, hoping to work for Ealing, but he only ever did one project for them, the film Out of the Clouds. His big breakthrough was a popular radio adaptation of Robbery Under Arms which he sold to the BBC in late 1949. Shortly afterwards he sold the thriller Assassin for Hire, to the BBC. This launched his career in England.[11] He followed it with another TV play, The Million Pound Note.

Assassin for Hire was sold to the movies and the success of this led to offers to do three more scripts starting with Wide Boy.[12] In December 1951 he was reportedly one of the highest paid freelancers in Britain.[13] His radio version of Wide Boy proved controversial when the BBC cancelled it at the last minute.

AustraliaEdit

Rienits wife died in January 1954, prompting Rienits to return to Australia later that year.[14] He stayed in Sydney for a year contributing to the script of Three in One and working for Colin Scrimgeour.[15]

"No one wanted to know me," he said later. He restored his fortunes writing the novel Jazz Boat which he sold to the movies.[16]

He married again and returned to London where he worked writing The Flying Doctors for TV and radio.

Rienits returned to Australia in 1959 to be script editor for the ABC.[17][18]

He wrote the first Australian historical TV series, Stormy Petrel, based on a radio serial of Rienits. This was so successful Rienits wrote a follow up series The Outcasts.

Wide Boy was filmed for Australian TV as Bodgie. There were also Australian versions of Who Killed Kovali? and Close to the Roof. In August 1961 Rienits left Australia for London, spending some time in Tahiti.[19] He was replaced as ABC drama editor by Philip Grenville Mann, who wrote the historical mini series The Patriots. Rienits wrote the next one, from London: The Hungry Ones.

Later careerEdit

Rienits based himself in London for the rest of his career, writing regularly for BBC radio. He and his wife collaborated on a book Early Artists of Australia (1963).[20]

He became editor in chief of the magazine Australian Heritage.

Towards the end of his life he and his wife wrote the book The Voyages of Captain Cook, The Voyages of Columbus and A Pictorial History of Australia. Sales of these three books exceeded 250,000. He died of a heart attack in 1971.[21]

Personal lifeEdit

His first marriage ended in divorce in 1932.[22] His second wife Josephine died in 1954.[23] In 1955 he married a third time, to a former occupational therapist, Thea, who regularly collaborated on his projects as a researcher and co author. He was survived by a son.

Selected writingsEdit

RadioEdit

  • Anti-Climax (1931) – a one-act play[24]
  • For Auction (1931) – a one-act play[25]
  • Art, for Art's Sake (1931) – a one-act play[26]
  • Midnight Interlufe (1931) – a one-act play[27]
  • Reunion (1938)[28]
  • Margaret Catchpole (1945)
  • He Found What He Wanted (1947)[29]
  • Stormy Petrel (1948) – serial[30] – rebroadcast in 1953
  • Robbery Under Arms (1949) – BBC radio adaptation of novel[31]
  • Fulfilment (1951)[32]
  • Wide Boy (1952)[33]
  • A Shilling for Candles (1953) adaptation of novel by Josephine Tey for BBC radio[34]
  • The Woman on the Beach (1953)[35]
  • Front Page Lead (1954)[36]
  • The Journey of Simon McEever (1954)[37]
  • Joseph Proctor's Money (1954) adapted from story by W. H. Lane Crawford[38]
  • Bligh Has a Daughter (1954)
  • Close to the Roof (1960)
  • John Lancaster (1961)
  • Flying Doctor (1958–63) – serial[39]
  • Holiday Task (1961)

FilmsEdit

TV PlaysEdit

TV SeriesEdit

  • The Passing Show (1951) (TV series) – writer of various episodes
  • BBC Sunday Night Theatre – episode "No Smoking!" (1952)
  • Patrol Car (1954) (TV series) – episode "Bombs in Piccadilly"
  • The Vise (1955) (TV series) – "Count of Twelve"
  • The Third Man (1959) – episode "Death in Small Installments"
  • Jazz Boat (1960) – screenplay (original story)
  • Jezebel (1963) – original story for episodes
  • Riptide (Australian TV series)Riptide (1969) – story for episode "One Way to Nowhere"

Mini-SeriesEdit

BooksEdit

  • Eureka Stockade (1949) – non fiction
  • Wide Boy (1952) – fiction
  • Assassin for Hire (1952) – fiction
  • (with Thea Rienits) Early Artists of Australia (1963) – non fiction
  • (with Thea Rienits) The Voyages of Captain Cook (1968) – non fiction
  • (with Thea Rienits) Discovery of Australia (1969) – non fiction
  • (with Thea Rienits) The Voyages of Columbus (1970) – non fiction
  • (with Thea Rienits) A Pictorial History of Australia (1977) – non fiction

PlaysEdit

  • Slaves to Tradition (1931)[46]
  • Hide Out (1937) – co written with S Howard, produced at the Independent Theatre[47]
  • Lightning Strikes Twice (1944)[48]

(He also directed various plays including productions of Golden Boy[49])

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "This Week In Town". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 30 January 1949. p. 14. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  2. ^ "London Penthouse". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 16 December 1953. p. 57. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  3. ^ Lane p 97
  4. ^ "PERSONAL". The Murrumbidgee Irrigator. Leeton, NSW: National Library of Australia. 26 March 1929. p. 3. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  5. ^ Lane p 97
  6. ^ "LIFE and LETTERS". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 17 June 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  7. ^ Clark p 8
  8. ^ "EUREKA STOCKADE FOR FILM". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 6 November 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  9. ^ Lane p 97
  10. ^ Clark p 8
  11. ^ "Australian's Television Play To Be Filmed". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 5 November 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Australian Writer Succeeds in London". The Age. No. 30, 161. Victoria, Australia. 29 December 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 5 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Hat-Trick By Film Script Man". The Newcastle Sun. No. 10, 590. New South Wales, Australia. 20 December 1951. p. 7. Retrieved 5 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "Home Again". ABC Weekly. 22 January 1955. p. 3.
  15. ^ Lane p99
  16. ^ Clark p 8
  17. ^ "Script Writer's Old Art". Sydney Morning Herald. 2 July 1959. p. 25.
  18. ^ "Common Sense Not Course Key to Good Writing". The Age. 30 July 1959. p. 24.
  19. ^ "TV Merry Go Round". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 August 1961. p. 72.
  20. ^ "Book on early Tasmania". The Age. 29 February 1964. p. 6.
  21. ^ "Rex Rienits dies in London". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 5 May 1971. p. 24. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  22. ^ "IN DIVORCE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 30 November 1932. p. 7. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Author's loss". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 26 January 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  24. ^ "BROADCASTING". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 23 January 1931. p. 8. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  25. ^ "MONDAY'S PROGRAMMES". The Queensland Times. Ipswich, Queensland: National Library of Australia. 28 February 1931. p. 14 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  26. ^ "2GB SYDNEY". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. National Library of Australia. 15 April 1931. p. 5. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  27. ^ "2GB SYDNEY". Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate. National Library of Australia. 29 April 1931. p. 4. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  28. ^ "BROADCASTING PUSH BUTTON TUNING". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 16 November 1938. p. 8. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  29. ^ "5KA". The News. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 6 June 1947. p. 7. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  30. ^ "STARS OF THE AIR". Wodonga and Towong Sentinel. Vic.: National Library of Australia. 17 December 1948. p. 1. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  31. ^ "Australian Classic For B.B.C." The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 18 December 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  32. ^ "To-day's Radia Programmes". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 22 April 1951. p. 9. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  33. ^ "BROADCAST OF PLAY CANCELLED". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 7 February 1952. p. 9. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  34. ^ http://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/A_Shilling_for_Candles_%28BBC_Radio,_09/Jan/1954%29
  35. ^ "Advertising". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 6 June 1953. p. 39. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  36. ^ "MARGARET'S COLUMN". Illawarra Daily Mercury. Wollongong, NSW: National Library of Australia. 15 April 1954. p. 4. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  37. ^ "TAKES ROLE OF SALESWOMAN". Illawarra Daily Mercury. Wollongong, NSW: National Library of Australia. 20 May 1954. p. 2. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  38. ^ "Women's Interests On The Air Easter In Athens". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 June 1954. p. 5 Section: Women's Section. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  39. ^ Gifford, Denis (1985). The Golden Age of Radio. Batsford. p. 85. ISBN 0-7134-4235-2.
  40. ^ "Australian's Television Play To Be Filmed". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 5 November 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  41. ^ "Latest Fiction". The Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 8 November 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  42. ^ "Studio Gossip". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 19 August 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  43. ^ Tale of two brothers Author: J. Stubbs Walker Date: Friday, Jan. 26, 1951 Publication: Daily Mail (London, England) Issue: 17062
  44. ^ "Perry Masan in three live shows". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 21 June 1961. p. 19. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  45. ^ ""THE HUNGRY ONES"". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 10 July 1963. p. 17. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  46. ^ "WINNING PLAY". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 15 May 1931. p. 12. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  47. ^ ""HIDEOUT."". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 17 April 1937. p. 10. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  48. ^ "THE AMATEUR THEATRE "HIAWATHA", AN ALL-GIRL SHOW". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 19 October 1944. p. 7. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  49. ^ ""GOLDEN BOY" IS STRONG DRAMATIC FARE". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 13 December 1948. p. 8. Retrieved 6 June 2015.

NotesEdit

  • Clark, Russell (14 September 1961). "The Bush Boy Who Wrote Outcasts". TV Times. pp. 8–9.
  • Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. pp. 97–99.

External linksEdit