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Crick, Stanley Sadler (1888–1955)

by A. F. Pike

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Stanley Sadler Crick (1888-1955), by unknown photographer, 1940-42

Stanley Sadler Crick (1888-1955), by unknown photographer, 1940-42

City of Sydney Archives, NSCA CRS 54/13

Stanley Sadler Crick (1888-1955), film distributor, was born on 9 October 1888 at Launceston, Tasmania, son of William Throne Crick, accountant, and his wife Alice, née Sadler. His grandfather was Throne Crick, a prominent businessman in Leicestershire. While an infant Stanley was taken by his parents to England, and in 1895 returned with them to Hobart where he entered The Hutchins School; he won a prize for classics in 1901, distinguished himself at football and sang in the choir of St David's Cathedral. His first job was as a clerk with a Hobart auctioneer, J. W. Abbott & Sons, but he soon moved to Melbourne as an accountant for Lohmann & Co., before joining the new Melbourne branch of the film production and distribution company of Pathé Frères in 1908.

Crick rose rapidly in the organization and established branches in Queensland and New Zealand; in 1909 he became manager of the Sydney office. On 25 April 1910 at the Methodist church, St Kilda, Melbourne, he married Ruby Margaret Burman, a nurse. In 1911 he left Pathé to produce his own films, first with Herbert Finlay and from June in the ambitious Australian Photo-Play Co. Employing a large stock company of actors and technicians, Crick turned out some twenty feature films in about a year, including outdoor adventures such as Moora Neya or the Message of the Spear (1911), and melodramas based on topical events such as The Cup Winner (1911). The enterprise closed down because of distribution difficulties and the loss of negatives in a fire. Thereafter, although Crick invested in a few later production such as Raymond Longford's The Mutiny of the Bounty (1916), he concentrated on the distribution of imported films.

His wife, predeceased by their only child, died in Sydney in October 1918 and next year Crick travelled in Asia. On his return he joined the American Fox Film Corporation (Australasia) Ltd, as Victorian manager. On 26 April 1921 at St Kilda he married a divorcee, Eleanor Ida Turner, née Williamson. In November he moved to Sydney as general sales manager for Fox in New South Wales and became managing director for Australasia in June 1922. He travelled extensively to branch offices and often visited the United States of America. In 1930 Crick also became managing director of the large cinema chain, Hoyts Theatres Ltd, after Fox had bought a controlling interest.

From the early 1930s Crick devoted increasing energy to civic affairs: in 1931-32 he served on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrations committee, and in 1934 on the management of Sydney Festival Week. The gardens of his luxurious home, Berith Park, Wahroonga, were often used to aid charities. He also served on the committees of the City of Sydney Eisteddfod, the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, and, being a keen golfer, the Pymble Golf Club. In 1935 he was awarded King George V's Jubilee Medal for his civic contributions and, in November, as a Citizens Reform Association candidate, was elected to the Sydney Municipal Council for Gipps Ward. As an alderman he was closely involved in the 1938 sesqui-centenary celebrations in Sydney and chaired the pageant committee.

Crick resigned from Hoyts Theatres in September 1937 and from Fox in February 1938, but remained as joint managing director of Australian and New Zealand Theatres Ltd, a company controlling J. C. Williamson Ltd, and was also a director of the Macquarie Broadcasting Services Pty Ltd. He was lord mayor of Sydney from December 1939 until December 1942, and concentrated his entrepreneurial skill on patriotic functions and fund-raising, particularly the Lord Mayor's Fund, for the war effort.

Crick had always liked racing and owned several horses including Sir Regent, winner of the Metropolitan Handicap in Sydney in 1937. He was also a member of Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, the Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales and the Athenaeum Club, Melbourne. In 1948 he bought the Navua stud farm at Richmond, New South Wales, and bred horses there until 1951 when he sold it for £50,000.

Crick died of a heart attack on 10 August 1955 while visiting Los Angeles; his body was flown back to Sydney and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery after a service at St Philip's Anglican Church. He was survived by his second wife and their son and two daughters. His estate was valued for probate at £72,583.

Gregarious and a lavish entertainer, Crick enjoyed his personal wealth in sports and social life, but always remained an adroit manager of his business affairs, with a talent for picking gifted people to work for him. He promoted both the showing of British films, and the development of an Australian film industry, although, ironically, he worked for an American company which was never involved directly in feature film production in Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • Everyone's, 12 Apr 1922, 3 Sept 1930
  • Film Weekly, 3 Sept 1931, 7 Nov 1935, 24 Feb 1938
  • Photoplayer, 16 Apr 1932
  • Lumiere (Melbourne), Mar 1973
  • Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 25 Oct 1930, 14 Jan 1933
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2, 19 Nov 1935, 13 Dec 1940, 16 Dec 1942, 11 Nov 1945, 19 Aug 1955
  • Sun (Sydney), 23 Feb 1938
  • S. S. Crick scrapbook (National Film and Sound Archive).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

A. F. Pike, 'Crick, Stanley Sadler (1888–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/crick-stanley-sadler-5820/text9881, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 19 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

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