Pro Patria J.O.C. Orton, Director & Editor - The Windjammer

This British Instructional Films (BIF) 'All Talking' production was released in 1930. It was directed and edited by JOC Orton who also wrote the adaptation from the book by A.J.Villiers "By Way of Cape Horn". The book comprised a record of A.J.'s adventurous 5 month voyage from Wallaroo to Queenstown, via Cape Horn, South America to Queenstown, Ireland. The film adaptation includes A.J.Villier's spectacular photographs taken on that voyage. 'The story deals with the everyday life of the crew at sea. Nothing has been exaggerated, nothing diminished, and the film is thus a true record of a great era of nautical history.' (p4, © 1930 - Pro Patria's marketing brochure). Prior to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 vessels, small as well as commercial boats such as Windjammers, took the Great Circle Route south of Cape Horn, venturing into the cold Southern Ocean and attempting to 'thread the eye of the needle',to pass through the narrow entrance into Bass Strait and on to Melbourne and Sydney.

The film begins in the small Australian port of Wallaro where lies the three-masted Windjammer "Grace Harwar" - at the time of shooting the last of the full-rigged Cape Horn windjammers still afloat......The film uses the spectacular photographs taken by A.J. Villers from that voyage.

In 2015, The Windjammer featured in the British Silent Film Festival 2015. (see below) Source:

Short Story of The Windjammer -1930

Directed by: J.O.C. Orton aka John Orton Adaptation: J.O.C. Orton Book: 'By Way of Cape Horn' by A.J. Villiers Sea Pictures: A.J. Villiers Assistant Directors: A. Woods, F.S.Legg, E. Baird Dialogue: A.P. Herbert The Crew played by: Tony Bruce, Michael Hogan, Hal Gordon, R Travers, J Barker, J Cunningham, Hal Booth, P Russell, C Christie, G Thomas, H Hanson, S Chrisyie, Gordon Craig, C Levey. Recorded on: Klangfilm by W. Birch Music by: Hermann Lohr Arranged by: W. Hodgson Photography: J. Parker Duration: (68 mins) Shot: on location, UK. Producer: British Instructional Film (BIF) The Windjammer: Grace Harwar

BFI Information:

Note: This film is not to be confused with the later BFI listed: 'Windjammer 1937' by RKO Radio Pictures or 'Windjammer 1958' a documentary about the Christian Radich Windjammer produced by Louis De Rochemont Cinemiracle Productions (Script by Alan Villiers).


UK 1930
Playing at the British Silent Film Festival 2015 - Saturday 12 September – 9am
Production Company:   British Instructional Films
Director: John Orton
Producers: H. Bruce Woolfe, Michael Villiers
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01
From the book: By Way of Cape Horn by:  A.J. Villiers
Dialogue: A. P. Herbert
Photography: R. J. Walker, A. J. Villiers, Jack Parker
Editor: John Orton
Music: Hermann Löhr
Assistant directors:  Arthur B. Woods, Edward Baird, Stuart Legg
Sound direction:  Victor A. Peers
Sound recordist: A. F. Birch
Sound system: Klangfilm
Location shooting: at sea, April – September 1929
Studio: Welwyn Studios, June 1930
Trade show: 18 September, 1930
Running time: 68 minutes

This Film Festival was supported bythe British Film Institute and the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK.

Courtesy of:

Programme (Windjammer review on p9): Festival Programme 

Original Program montage from Orton Family Archives: Windjammer Programme - 1930

"Adapted from the book By Way of Cape Horn by A.J Villiers, Windjammer is a beautifully-filmed record of the last journey of the Grace Harwar, a full-rigged Finnish Windjammer sailing from Australia to England via Cape Horn.
A hybrid of actuality and fiction, the real-life film of the journey was shot silent and later combined with dramatic ‘talkie’ sequences filmed in the UK. The real journey was fraught with difficulty as the ship encountered rough seas and becalming in the Doldrums, the crew ran out of food and water and tragically the cameraman, Gregory Walker, was killed on the journey.
Windjammer is a unique portrait of the last of the great sailing ships and the men who served on the most demanding but stunning sea voyages."

"The Festival is organised by Laraine Porter, Bryony Dixon (BFI Silent Films), Sue Porter, Neil Brand and Pete Groschl with musicians Neil Brand, Guenther Buchwald, Stephen Horne and John Sweeney. Special thanks to BFI, Paul Marygold, Kevin Brownlow, Tony Fletcher, Geoff Brown, Charles Barr, Alain Kerzoncuf, Gosfilmofund (Russia) Pablo Rossello (British Council, Ukraine), Svenska Filminstitutet (Sweden), EYE Film (Netherlands), Cinémathèque française, Phoenix Cinema and De Montfort University."

Family History

My family history tells of JOC actually having edited this film on the family loungeroom floor, 1929-1930, when my mother was a child. Also that JOC, who was a skilled and decorated Observer Pilot in Mesopotamia during WW1, had flown above the Grace Harwar at Cape Horn in a bi-plane to take footage and observe. Certainly not much is mentioned anywhere of the logistics of this production and any 'remake' but this family information is reflected by some of the information of the 2015 festival mentioned above. Namely, that is was shot on location as well as in the UK and that JOC was the editor. I am currently trying to find who has a copy of this film and if it has been resotored but am based in Australia, making research difficult in these landline and addressless days.

ROUNDING CAPE HORN IN A WINDJAMMER - by Alan.J. Villiers - National Geographic -

This article and pdf (attached) refers to a National Geographic Article in February1931 and includes the restoration and copies of the photos taken during the Cape Horn journey.


PDF of site Link: A.J.Villiers National Geographic 1931- An Online Record.

The Book - '13 Sailed Home' | 1935 - JOC Orton & Ken Attiwill.

Clearly there is a history to the film 'rights' and intended development of The Windjammer story by members of the Villiers family, but I am not yet able to source.

However, I have unearthed a book (below) resold by a rare book seller, the copyright of which was taken out in USA byJOC Orton and Ken Attiwill in 1935. It is not however the Windjammer, but concerns an adventure voyage by sail. The second item tells the story of Ken Attiwill's involvement with the 'Non Stop New York' film - produced by Gaumont British Films - which is based on his book 'Sky Steward'. JOC Orton co-wrote the screenplay for it in 1937 with Roland Pertwee as per the film's credits.

The film can be viewed for free at: Free-view Non Stop New York



Attached is a .jpg rebuild of the original Pro Patria 12 page Program.

The Windjammer 1930 - Klangfilm

Detailed info about The Windjammer. JOC was director / scenarist / editor of this BIF produced docu drama. It was shown at a 2015 British Film Festival. DVD Copies have not yet been located.

JOC Orton | 1889-1962

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | FAQ | Sitemap





Get in Touch