Once a Jolly Swagman
Directed byJack Lee
Written byWilliam Rose
Jack Lee
Cliff Gordon (additional dialogue)
Based onOnce a Jolly Swagman
by Montagu Slater
Produced byIan Dalrymple
StarringDirk Bogarde
Bonar Colleano
Bill Owen
CinematographyH.E. Fowle
Edited byJack Harris
John Ferris
Music byBernard Stevens
Wessex Film Productions
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 2 January 1949 (1949-01-02) (London)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Once a Jolly Swagman is a 1949 British film starring Dirk Bogarde, Bonar Colleano, Bill Owen, Thora Hird and Sid James.[1] It is centred on the sport of motorcycle speedway racing, which was at its peak of popularity at the time. It was released in the U.S. as Maniacs on Wheels.[2] The film is based on the 1946 novel by Montagu Slater.[3]

The title of the film refers to the first line of the Australian song "Waltzing Matilda".

Director Jack Lee later said he enjoyed making the film "because it was physical, there was action and I had good actors."[4]



  1. ^ "Once a Jolly Swagman (1949)".
  2. ^ "Maniacs on Wheels".
  3. ^ Robert Phillip (25 March 2002). "Speedway: Crump keen to savour the sweet smell of success". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  4. ^ Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methueun 1997 p 357