Lumpen comedy has become the classic Australian silent movie.
The main line of Australian film making runs from this on through the Dad & Dave comedies (Ray Longford did some silent) Barry MacKenzie and Crocodile Dundee. While the later ones are a subject of embarrassment to the Australian film establishment, who nurture the fantasy of melding Political Correctness with CULTURE, this has been granfathered into an object of reverence.
It may have been a massive task for Ray Longford and his colleagues to get this far in 1919 Australia and maybe it's uncharitable to point out the limitations of their achievement but a film that traded these in comic stereotypes (endearing yokels, a thick ear working class hero who offers to duff up his rival for the beret wearing object of his affections and advises Romeo to "Put in the boot!" ) from any other source would be savaged. The acting is unshaded, the staging small scale and the coverage uninspired - mainly three quarter length two shots in uninteresting locations. The leads are not placed in the wider action which occurs as scene setting.
Poor Arthur Higgins does his best, imposing the close up of Lyall on the cut pumpkin and processing a moon into the beach sky but the film remains drab and stereotypical.
No one seems worried that THE SENTIMENTAL BLOKE is the contemporary of the work of Griffith, Tourneur and Sjöstrom when making extravagant claims for it. It's crude rendition of the Australian character continues - maybe he got it right - but shouldn't that worry someone?
The current, occasionally sharp restoration doesn't change these facts.
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