Friday, 28 September 2012

Knives in Movies #1: Crocodile Dundee


Knives in Movies
#1: Crocodile Dundee


The one and only!
This movie and knife need no introduction. One of the greatest and most famous Aussie movie in all the world stars one man, Paul Hogan, taking on the world with one tool. His knife!

The majority of references & sources indicate that the original Crocodile Dundee knife was designed and made by Australian movie armourer and gunsmith John Bowring. (See footnotes ** for some references that challenges the claim of Bowring’s originality of the design) Bowring also made a number of copies of the knife in rubber and aluminium (how many of each is not publicly known) for the movie. 

It seems that the real steel blade was used in several scenes where it was visually prominent in a scene or for close ups, but the replicas were used where there was force or movement behind the blade, or where it contacted the skin of the ‘baddies’.



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A bit about John Bowring:
^^ John Bowring currently works as an armourer and special effects technician in Sydney, Australia. Bowring originally set out to be a gunsmith, but found that in Australia there was no such thing as a qualified gunsmith, but convinced the Apprenticeship Commission to allow him to be an apprentice to an Austrian trained gunsmith. To this day he is Australia’s only 'technically' qualified gunsmith.

Bowring was also an authorised Puma knives repairman, and it has been said that he got some inspiration for the Dundee knife from the Puma 6376. ## You can definitely see the similarities.


Puma 6376


Bowring’s contact with on-screen armoury began with Mad Max 3 when approached to make some unusual weapons for the film. Other films featuring his expertise are the Matrix movies, The Thin Red Line, The Quiet America, Mission Impossible II, Stealth, X-Men Origins, Australia and in a few Australian TV series and commercials. In a recent interview, ^^ Bowring stated that he found the designing and making of the Crocodile Dundee knife very interesting.
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The materials used on the handle were brass for the guard and pommel. The real steel knives used a hidden tang design, and so did some of the replicas. Other replicas though were seen during the films with the tang of the knife visible at the base of the pommel, making it full tang. The handle itself was wrapped rather decoratively in kangaroo lace leather by the sheath maker.



The low-hung crocodile skin leather sheaths were made by sheath maker and leather worker Chantel Cordey after she settled in Sydney, Australia, from travelling around the world from Europe. Chantel worked on props for many movies including Mad Max 3, Babe II, The Matrix and Superman Returns. # 



The original bowie knife is currently in the hands of Crocodile Dundee himself (Paul Hogan). ^ The film’s writer/producer John Cornell (who until recently owned Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel), apparently has one too (aluminium/rubber/knife-grade steel uncertain).  (See footnote ~) A third blade (material unknown) was given to a film executive in Los Angeles.



Apparently, according to an article on theage.com.au, ^ a copy of the knife was made and signed by Bowring and sold for almost $50,000 at an auction in London in approximately 2003. 

Just recently, one of the aluminium prop replica’s with sheath and sharpening steel (worn on Hogan’s hip for most of the original film >>) was auctioned off by an Australian auctioning company Bonhams & Goodman on July 19 2005 valued between $7,500 and $15,000, and bidding was expected to start at $10,000.



Interestingly, the knife makers, and sheath maker will not reproduce either item. After emailing the sheath maker, a member from a internet knife forum received the reply that the film company holds the copyrights to them. * A phone call from us to Bowring confirmed this. He stated that he had not even made one for himself.

In any case, the Dundee knife has inspired a passion for knives in the belly of many, and continues to be one of the most iconic knives of our recent history. It is blamed for inspiring many to begin their long, costly quest to find the perfect knife. But in the back of the mind of many collectors and enthusiasts, remains the knife they will always dream of – the Crocodile Dundee knife.


The closest thing to the Dundee knife that any company has ever produced, is "The Outback" by Down Under Knives. The company is not Australian, but has targeted Australia as their main source of inspiration it seems. DUK makes no direct claim to get it's inspiration from the movie knife, but we'll let you decide for yourselves on that one...



Will we ever see a 'true to scale & movie' full-scale production version of this classic piece of movie history? There are a few that have taken the project on board themselves, but it seems that no-one has produced it quite correctly just yet. 

For now, it seems doubtful we will see a production version, unless the film company decides to do a small run of them for collection purposes. But there is always hope that one day, someone out there will decide that this knife is TOO good, and simply TOO cool to remain purely on the small screen!

Footnotes & References:
** Other references (*, + and ~~) state that the knife was hand-forged by Daniel Watson from Angel Sword in the US and sold to an unknown buyer at the New York Renaissance Fair. (Bowring is implied to have been this buyer and that he made copies of the knife.)

~ A discrepancy exists between information sources stating the first maker of the knife itself. (See **) Source * implies that only one (1) original steel knife was made and sold, but source ^ and > state that there are two (2) steel ones in existence owned by Hogan and Cornell. If anyone can shed light on this apparent discrepancy, please comment below.









2 comments:

  1. Having worked as 'background' in many films, Crocodile Dundee has been one of my favorites to imagine... 'if only' :>) Great article. I will link it in one of my blogs. DaFlikkers blogspot. 'Knives and Kids' Feb 2014. A knife story from my youth, when a Knife was carried by everyone in one form or another. Nothing as glorious as the Crocodile Dundee knife, but everyone carried a blade of some sort.

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  2. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brand-New-Crocodile-Dundee-Huge-Jungle-Bowie-Knife-Movie-Dagger-Fixed-Blade-/111323450368

    hate to see this guy on ebay with an obvious photo shop picture

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