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At the beginnings of this centuary a man, his son and a piano player travel around Australia showing the first silent movies (naturally in black and white). But what they really want is stay at one place and open up a cinema.Written by
Rod Taylor once said of agreeing to work on this film during the film's promotion: "I wanted to help the Australian film industry. I'd heard about some good movies made here lately, but it doesn't matter how good they are if nobody's seeing them. You can watch your own product in Australia and be proud of it. But I want it to go and beat off the French and the English and the Americans...My name will certainly get US distributors interested. They know they can make at least a few bucks domestically on my name. And they can certainly make something with my name in terms of world-wide distribution". See more »
Whimsical and slightly bittersweet tale of competing projectionists (Meillon and Taylor), who traverse the Australian outback, bringing the joy of motion pictures to packed theatres in the 1920's. Their rivalry serves as the backdrop to the surprisingly cut-throat art of picture shows, from the pitfalls of double-acts and faulty equipment, to the looming spectre of talking pictures ("that'll just be a fad" announces Meillon, somewhat cautiously as he rallies his companions for another relentless tour of duty).
It's a peerless homage to the business and its characters, with sympathetic performances from all concerned, Meillon especially well considered in his role of the travelling man, compelled to labour under the extremes for a pittance, resisting the trappings and exploitation in order to preserve the traditions that his business-savvy rival Taylor dismisses as anachronisms, barriers to amassing his fortune.
Great supporting cast includes familiar faces John Ewart as the wily, womanising pianist to Meillon's travelling roadshow, Garry McDonald as Taylor's opportunistic piano-man, Judy Morris, Harold Hopkins and a tremendous sub-plot featuring conniving showman Patrick Cargill and his sultry clairvoyant Jelena Zigon.
The cinematography is pure indulgence of the Australian landscape, its rich colours and textures, wrapping a beautifully crafted tale, a modest, understated and poignant reminder of the way we once were.
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