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Australia 1976
Directed by
Tim Burstall
110 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Eliza Fraser

With Stork and Alvin Purple, Burstall, had established himself as king of the sex romp. With this film and with the help of screenwriter David Williamson, who had written both Stork and Burstall's previous film, Petersen, he moves completely out of the university campus environment of those two collaborations and into the newly popular genre of the costume film (the film was released the same year as Peter Weir's iconic Picnic At Hanging Rock and Richard Franklin's less-lauded The True Story of Eskimo Nell).

Loosely based on the historical figure of the title it is a picaresque story of an independent woman's adventures during the convict era. Boobs and bums (including those of Susannah York) are once again aired with abandon but the film also takes the opportunity to satirize British authority (embodied in the person of Trevor Howard, who plays a homosexual officer and prison governor).

As with Petersen, both in front of and behind the camera, the film is a veritable microcosm of the relatively inexperienced Australian film industry of the time and displays a characteristic lack of sophistication, for better and worse. Unlike other films with imported players, in this film Howard and York are entirely appropriate. Not only do they give the film a qualitative boost but have considerable fun with its irreverent spirit whilst Noel Ferrier gives a winning performance as Fraser's fuddy-duddy husband.

DVD Extras: 2004 interviews with Alan Finney, David Williamson, DOP Robin Copping, and John Waters; filmographies and the theatrical trailer. With English sub-titles for the hearing impaired.

Available from: Village Roadshow




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