A pioneering Australian filmmaker, screenwriter, and author, Charles Chauvel is noted for making such films as Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940) and Jedda in 1955. He learned his craft initially as a production assistant to Reg. 'Snowy' Baker, following to Hollywood in 1922, at his own expense, where he spent some time as a jack of all trades including working as an extra, lighting technician, publicist, and stunt double. After returning to Australia Chauvel obtained finance from Queensland businessmen and friends to produce his first films The Moth of Moonbi and Greenhide (both 1926). It was during the making of the second film that he met his future wife, Elsa Wilcox (better known as the actress and variety entertainer Elsa Sylvaney).
In 1933 Chauvel made In the Wake of the Bounty, a docu-drama talkies starring Errol Flynn as Fletcher Christian (in his screen debut). The making of the film was given its own account in a book written by Chauvel and titled In the Wake of the Bounty: To Tahiti and Pitcairn Island (1933). Two years later he won a Commonwealth Government competition with his second talkie, Heritage.
Chauvel's next film was Uncivilised (1936), a "jungle story" filmed in Cape York. He found international success with Forty Thousand Horsemen (1940), a tribute to the Australian Light Horse Brigade in Palestine in World War I (the film also launched the career of actor Chips Rafferty), and made a second war film in 1944 - The Rats of Tobruk (1944).
After the war Chauvel made a film about a pioneer family in Queensland, Sons of Matthew (1949), drawing on his own family history, and then in 1955 made arguably his most acclaimed work, Jedda. The story of an aboriginal baby girl raised by a white station owner and kept in ignorance of traditional ways, Jedda was the first Australian feature film made in colour.
Chauvel turned to television in the mid-1950s, finding success with Walkabout a BBC series that took viewers to interesting locations around Australia. He died unexpectedly of coronary vascular disease in 1959.