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The Sundowners (1960)

Unrated | | Drama, Adventure | 28 February 1961 (Japan)
In Australia's Outback during the early 20th century the impoverished Carmody family lives a nomadic life out of their wagon but the mom and son want to settle while the dad is against it.



(screenplay), (novel)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Firth
Jean Halstead
Chips Rafferty ...
Lola Brooks ...
Liz Brown
Herb Johnson
Bluey Brown
Gerry Duggan ...
Leonard Teale ...
Peter Carver ...


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 <jeannee@uwyo.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrill to a new kind of outdoor adventure ! See more »


Drama | Adventure


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 February 1961 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Tres vidas errantes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Second of four movies that paired Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. See more »


During the shearing contest, at the first break, Robert Mitchum collapses onto his seat and his opponent is shown in the background getting his pipe out of his pocket, lighting up and smoking. Then the camera cuts to a closeup of the opponent and he is shown getting his pipe out and lighting up again. See more »


Sean Carmody: [on hearing Venneker had been a ship's captain] Why'd you leave?
Rupert Venneker: My stomach. I was a notoriously bad sailor.
Sean Carmody: Dad says you must have been a better sailor than you are a horseman.
Rupert Venneker: What the devil is he talking about? I was cashiered from the 17th Lancers before he knew one end of a horse from the other! NOT that he does now! Hah!
Sean Carmody: What does cashiered mean?
Rupert Venneker: Uh - kind of promotion from the army into civilian life.
See more »


Moreton Bay
Quoted in the background score and sung by Paddy Carmody (Robert Mitchum) in the hotel
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User Reviews

Shame on the Academy
2 January 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

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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