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Australia 1977
Directed by
John Power
99 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Picture Show Man

Very much in the tradition of costume dramas that typified 1970s Australian film ,The Picture Show Man is a likeable, though somewhat thin, "family" movie about Maurice Pym (John Meillon), the paterfamilias of Pym's Pictures, who with his son (Harold Hopkins) traverses rural New South Wales during the 1920s bringing the world of filmic illusion to the yokels.

Penned and produced by Joan Long, who also wrote Caddie, it is based on an unpublished biography of E. Lyle Penn, an old-time showman. The film is no Cinema Paradiso being not so much about the magic and romance of the flickering screen as a genial story of the knockabout adventures of the travelling showmen and their times. John Meillon gives a winning lead performance as Pym, the old school showman, whilst Rod Taylor, who gets top billing despite doing very little, appears as his brash American rival.

The film is at best lightweight entertainment (there is a nice double entendre exchange between John Ewart and Jeannie Drynan early in the film but this level of wit is unfortunately not kept up) with a commendable measure of attention having gone into recreating the period but it is difficult to sustain interest in its elementary story and characterisations.




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