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Australia 1979
Directed by
Tim Burstall
93 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Last Of The Knucklemen

Last Of The Knucklemen makes an interesting companion piece to Ken Hannam's Sunday Too Far Away (1975). It's a rougher film, both in terms of production and content, but that gives it very high degree of verismilitude particularly thanks to excellent work from the cast.

Burstall's adaptation of John Power's credible stage play dealing with the cutting edge of the Australian mateship myth, takes us on location to Andamooka, in the god-forsaken wilds of central South Australia to follow the day-to-day lives of a rough-and-ready group of itinerants on a wildcat opal mine. The film has basically two poles - the naturalistic environment of Andamooka and the more theatre-like context of the camp barracks, the latter scenes being shot in Melbourne. Burstall nicely manages to balance the two aspects- knockabout Aussie bloke-ism and the more intense confrontations of the barrack's claustrophobic confines - with the pivotal card game shifting the weight more toward the latter.

The cast includes many of the staples of the period including Gerard Kennedy, Dennis Miller, Steve Bisley and Stewart Faichney but it is probably Michael Duffield as the old timer, Methusalah, who gives the most memorable performance closely followed by Mike Preston as Pansy, the charismatic bully boy of the group. Denise Drysdale appears as a whore whilst a callow Michael Caton plays the innocent, Monk.




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