Monday, March 25, 2013
A young schoolteacher, stuck in a one room schoolhouse in the Australian outback, decides to escape to Sydney during the summer break. En route to the city, he gets marooned in a small town after losing all his money gambling. He soon is drinking heavily, flopping on stranger's beds, going on (real) kangaroo hunts, and engaging in the brutal side of cliche Australian male behavior.
That kangaroo hunt...that was hard to sit through. If you are unable to watch innocent animals suffering, then you may not want to see this film. The producer hired kangaroo hunters for this scene and after a few hours, the hunters (who were by then completely drunk) were missing their targets and just wounding the creatures. The producer fainted on set after seeing a baby kangaroo limping with its entrails dragging behind it. The director faked a power outage to get them to stop firing. When this was re-screened at Cannes in 2009 (one of only two films in the festival's history to show twice, the other being Antonioni's L'Avventura) twelve people walked out during this scene.
I'm not sure what the point of all of this is. This has the descent into corruption and debauchery that director Joseph Losey liked to portray in his films of the early sixties...in fact, Losey tried to make this film years earlier but was unsuccessful in gathering up the funds. This also has a Losey/Harold Pinter fascination with homosexuality (the film is permeated with ugly homoerotic undertones, and sometimes overtones). I guess the point is irrelevant, it's just an uncomfortable film buzzing with flies, dripping with sweat, reeking of b.o. and vomit, and festooned with kangaroo intestines. It's memorable, but you may not want to remember it. Starring Gary Bond and the terrific Donald Pleasance.