|SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY (director: Ken Hannam; screenwriter: John Dingwall; cinematographer: Geoff Burton; editor: Rod Adamson; music: Patrick Flynn; cast: Jack Thompson (Foley), Max Cullen (Tim King), Robert Bruning (Tom), Jerry Thomas (Basher), Peter Cummins (Arthur Black), John Ewart (Ugly), Reg Lye (Old Garth), Gregory Apps (Michael Simpson), Phyllis Ophel (Ivy), John Charman (Barman), Lisa Peers (Sheila Dawson), Ken Weaver (Quinn); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Gil Brealey/Matt Caroll; South Australian Film Corporation/Castle Hill; 1975-Australia)|
|"Feels much like a big-hearted TV
by Dennis Schwartz
TV director Ken Hannam ("Dawn!"/"Summerfield"/"Robbery
Under Arms") effectively directs one of his early five
feature films. It was the first film produced
by the South Australian Film Corporation, a subsidiary
of the South Australian state government created in
1972 to present local film production. John
Dingwall wrote the bitter-sweet screenplay, one
about male camaraderie that feels much like a big-hearted
TV sitcom. It's one of only a few films on sheep
shearing that I recall, and though shearing is not
that exciting a watch its appealing star, Jack
Thompson, kept me tuned into how he navigates such a
tough career choice. What the story never managed,
however, was to get me to passionately care about the
characters and their hard life.
set in 1955 Australia (it was shot in Port
Augusta and Quorn, South Australia), in the
desolate Outback, where a group of itinerant sheep
shearers, led by drifter Jack Foley (Jack
Thompson), work for contractor Tim King (Max
Cullen) on Dawson's isolated sheep station
and experience a bad cook (Ken Weaver),
hard work, intense competition to see who is the best
shearer, boredom, isolation, loneliness, drinking
problems and finally a strike that lasts 9 months.
Before the film ends in a pub brawl between scabs and
striking shearers, Foley has to compete for shearing
honors with newcomer Black Arthur (Peter
Cummins) and loses. Foley also bunks with
a hopeless disheveled drunk, Old Garth (Reg
Lye), and that reinforces the brooding
former champion gun-shearer to retire as a shearer
after this job and find a more suitable occupation, or
he thinks he might end up also a loser without a
viable family life.
The title was lifted from an Australian poem entitled "The Shearer's Wife's Lament." Thompson sings the title song.
Thompson won in 1975 the Best Actor award for Australian films, in a rewarding film that paved the way for future Aussie films to be shown internationally. Also, its well-conceived male bonding presentation reminds one of the great Howard Hawks and how his films richly used such a theme.
REVIEWED ON 6/2/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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