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Australia 1985
Directed by
Donald Crombie / Ken Hannam
141 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Robbery Under Arms

This transposition of the classic Rolf Boldrewood novel, originally released as a television mini-series, is an impressively-made and entertaining effort although when taken in a single sitting tends to suffer from re-iteration, particularly in the romance department.

The story of gentleman rogue Captain Starlight (Sam Neill), his Aboriginal batman (Tommy Lewis) and the Marstons (Steve Vidler, Christopher Cummins and Ed Devereaux) is told as a colourful adventure yarn with the wild colonial boys taking on the stuffy British Establishment. History is present in only the broadest of strokes, largely in the typology of characters.

Following closely the conventions of such things, but with flair, directors Crombie and Hannam with screenwriters Graeme Koetsveld and Tony Morphett build to a singular and almost elegiac confrontation between the forces of independence and conformity. The film is well-photographed by Ernest Clark and the cast is strong with Sam Neill in fine fettle in what might otherwise be considered an excellent James Mason impersonation. The only thing that holds the film back is a tendency to give too much attention to affairs of the heart, particularly where the older brother, Dick, and his true love, Gracey, are concerned.




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