Paris or the Bush: Murray Cods documentary film to tell legend of Australian rowing underdogs at 1924 Olympic Games

Murray Bridge's great contribution to Australian folklore is about to be revealed.

Documentary film "Paris or the Bush" will tell one of the most remarkable underdog stories in our national sporting history when it premieres at the city's town hall on Saturday night.

Seventy-eight years before Bradbury kept his balance, half a century before Australia II's winged keel, a working-class rowing crew from Murray Bridge overcame prejudice, poverty and war wounds to represent their country at the 1924 Olympic Games.

Now, after their own challenging journey around the world to research and shoot footage, they are ready for the Cods’ silver-screen resurrection.

"I think Australia's going to be astonished when they see this piece of their history," Mr Groom said.

"One little club that has no boats, no clubrooms, for them to be rowing for international glory is beyond belief.

"There's something timeless about this story: dreams can come true."

The venue for the premiere will be the same building where the Cods bid their supporters farewell in 1924.

"When we've got 300 people together with a connection to it, in this building where it all happened, I can't imagine what it's going to be like," he said.

"All the descendants, some in their 80s and 90s, they're all so proud of their ancestors, what they achieved, and so glad the story is being told."

As well as clearing up some of the rumours about the Cods - including whether they truly rowed from their accommodation to the starting line of their Olympic race - the film will contain plenty of humour, from Ted Thomas jumping from a balcony into a bucket of water to the entire crew playing music in a dance hall full of naked Parisians.

The film's production was an epic in itself, as the pair scoured the globe for archival footage and people with connections to the subject.

Ms Bilsborow said the Cods' heroism had inspired them to finish the film; Mr Groom said Ms Bilsborow's research skills had been equally as valuable.

"It has changed our lives ... it has changed the way I've looked at the world," he said.

"The faith people have shown us, shown there is still philanthropy, there are still good stories.

"What a miracle to find this story, and in our own backyard."

Descendents of almost every Murray Cod will attend the black-tie premiere, as will VIPs including Olympic medallist James McRae, rowing historian Robin Poke and former Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison.

Tickets sold out last week, but a free screening is planned at Murray Bridge Community Club on May 22.

The filmmakers are yet to negotiate a distribution deal for cinema or television.


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