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Australia 1977
Directed by
Kevin Dobson
104 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

The Mango Tree

Written and produced by Michael Pate, an Australian actor who had had a reasonable career in Hollywood, including screenwriting credits for Escape From Fort Bravo (1953) and The Most Dangerous Man Alive (1961) and who went on to direct Mel Gibson in Tim (1979), this Edwardian coming-of-age costume drama set in rural sub-tropical Queensland, released the same year as The Getting of Wisdom and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith fails to convince on just about every level from the wooden script to the casting of Pate’s 25 year old son Christopher as the 16 year old central character to some awfully-mannered performances, in particular Gerard Henderson’s hell-fire preacher. The exception is Geraldine Page, an Irish-American actress (and mother of Michael Lindsay-Hogg who directed quite a few music films, notably The Rolling Stones’ Rock n’ Roll Circus), who as the grandmother lends a note of professionalism to what is otherwise an unpolished production.

In keeping with the times, Australiana is to the fore and the art direction lovingly re-creates our bygone days although the shop signs in the township look as if the art department had run out of money. A nice-looking but minor entry in the catalogue of 'Australian Renaissance' films.

DVD Extras: A 16m interview with Christopher Pate

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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