In the Australian Outback, the Carmody family--Paddy, Ida and their teenage son Sean--are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to ... See full summary »
In the Australian Outback, the Carmody family--Paddy, Ida and their teenage son Sean--are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to keep moving. A sheep-shearing contest, the birth of a child, drinking, gambling and a race horse will all have a part in the final decision. Written by
Jeanne Armintrout <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gary Cooper was originally cast in the lead role of Paddy Carmondy, but had to back out due to poor health. Robert Mitchum stepped into the role for the chance to act with his good friend Deborah Kerr, whom he had previously co-starred with in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). Mitchum agreed to give Kerr top billing, joking to the production team, "You can design a twenty-four foot sign of me bowing to her if you like." See more »
For such a gifted actor as Robert Mitchum to go unrecognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a shame and makes one glad that George C. Scott did what he did in refusing to receive the Oscar for his amazing work in "Patton." I don't want to mention Marlon Brando because I'm still not certain what he was up to. He seemed to want attention more than to make a statement when he flaunted the Academy. Added to this shame is the same Academy virtually ignoring Mitchum's co-star in this movie Deborah Kerr, also deserving of more formal recognition for her contributions to the Hollywood dream machine. Anyone who has any doubt about the outstanding acting abilities of these two stars needs only watch "The Sundowners" to see where I'm coming from. The rest of the cast in "The Sundowners" add to the overall effectiveness of the movie, especially the brilliance of Peter Ustinov.
There is really not much of a story. The film is more of a character study of a vagabond with a wife and a son who is trying to make a living as a sheep drover in the outback of Australia. He encounters a rather mysterious man Rupert Venneker (Ustinov) who becomes his hired hand to help with the sheep. Paddy Carmody (Mitchum) is very happy with this hand to mouth existence, living in a tent or sleeping out amongst the stars, keeping a little change in a jar, but his wife and son prefer a more settled existence, dreaming of owning their own ranch. Director Fred Zinnemann captures the essence of vagabond life down under filming on location in Australia, showing the exotic wild life in all its beauty and spender. Technicolor and wide-screen heighten the viewers enjoyment of this tale of dreams fulfilled and unfulfilled in a land that is still somewhat mysterious to the average American.
Of special note is the Australian music used by Zinnemann. In the first pub scene Mitchum bellows out in a drunken Aussie accent one of John Ford's favorites, "Wild Colonial Boy," but then sings a ballad that is seldom heard on the big screen, "Botany Bay," about the infamous penal colony from which modern Australia sprang. The versatile Robert Mitchum was also a singer and songwriter. He helped write the music of his production of "Thunder Road" and even had somewhat of a hit recording of the title song in 1958. Rupert Venneker (Ustinov) makes fun of Paddy's voice in "The Sundowners," but actually it wasn't bad.
This is a rather long film, over two hours, but a highly enjoyable one. I first saw it on the big screen when I was a senior in high school. It was one of those flicks that stays with a person. I've had the pleasure of seeing it a few more times since. It is still as fresh and as good as when first released.
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