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Mad Dog Morgan
Australia 1976
Directed by Philippe Mora
Running time 102 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Philippe Mora’s film, originally entitled simply Mad Dog, has acquired a degree of notoriety thanks to the antics of Dennis Hopper, who, at the height of his “bad boy” phase, managed to get himself banned from driving in New South Wales. Although critically well-received, the film did not do well commercially and it is indeed a rough, even at times, risible production as a purported slice of colonial history, a topic which was very popular at this time in more conventional mainstream productions.

Like Mick Jagger’s Ned Kelly before him, the anti-establishmentarian values which Hopper embodied, both as an actor/celebrity and in his character of Daniel Morgan, bushranger, are the real subject of the film. In this respect it retains a undeniable charm (as for instance when Hopper’s Morgan tells his Aboriginal friend Billy, played by David Gulpilil, that he loves him) with its off-beat approach to the bushranger/outlaw anti-hero. The film often looks good, the landscape and settings well-harmonised to the S.T Gill prints which are used for the opening credits whilst Gulpilil’s Billy and Frank Thring’s turn as the icily sadistic Superintendent "I want his spleen on my desk by sundown" Cobham are notable exceptions to the near-vaudevillean performances from most of the other cast members, including Bill Hunter and Jack Thompson.

DVD Extras:  An extensive suite of extras includes the director's commentary; To Shoot A Mad Dog - a 23m making-of featurette; a modern-day conversation between Mora and Hopper; a contemporary ABC radio interview with Mora; extracts of raw footage; a still gallery and PDFs of the film's script and it program.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment

 

 

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