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The Sundowners (1960)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Adventure  |  28 February 1961 (Japan)
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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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Title: The Sundowners (1960)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 7 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 ...
Dick Bentley ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The renowned cast. The rugged country. The joyous adventure classic. 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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Peter Carver was only cast as Clint the Shearer only after the actor first cast was cast in a different part. 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: Gee, it's gonna be fun. This is the first time I've ever been away from home.
Shearer: What, with your mom and dad not fifty yards outside that window, and you call that being away from home?
Rupert Venneker: Certainly. Being out in the world is a state of mind, not of geography. The distance between that tent and this bunker is the longest journey you will ever make in your life.
See more »


Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 7 August 1960 (1960) See more »


The Queensland Drover
Heard throughout the film as a theme
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A gentle study of a cheerful, loving Australian family whose whole life is one of adventure…

Frequently slow, solemn and simplistic, the films of Fred Zinneman are the work of a director who appears to have equated artistry with neatness, objectivity with aloofness, and significance with decorative, humorless reverence…

"The Sundowners" was perhaps the best 'Australian' film made up to that time, and was, incidentally, a perceptive study of a marriage: Deborah Kerr was the wife who wanted to settle down, and Robert Mitchum the husband who didn't… It reveals much about their life-style and the land in which they live… Their good teenaged son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) explains the meaning of a sundowner as someone whose home is wherever he happens to be when the sun goes down…

So Paddy (Mitchum) and Ida (Kerr) are a warm and well-adjusted couple with one grown son, except for one argument—the struggle between his love of being a wanderer and her fundamental desire for the stability of a home… Paddy was a man who couldn't settle in one place… For him, most places were fit only for arrivals and departures…

The film—which constantly endeavored to show the Australian woman's compassion for the problems of women in a big male society—is also a happy celebration with other notable participants being Glynis Johns as an awfully pleasant barmaid-innkeeper who loves men's company and knows how to deal with them; Peter Ustinov as an educated but slightly mysterious Englishman, a likable drifter, a kind of an elderly turtle who wears a nautical cap, with wealth of experience, but not much of a mind to make use of it…This turtle signs on as a drover with Paddy, apparently not so much for a job but for something to pass the time…

Outstanding is a scene in which Ida, as a woman with no makeup, sitting on the wagon, spots in the window of a stationary train a well-dressed woman who obviously has all the things she doesn't... They look at each other for an instance as the rich woman applies powder to her face… Ida gently lifts her fingers over her cheeks… They stare at each other and we rapidly notice Ida's thoughts…

"The Sundowners" is one of the very best of Mitchum's films… In the pub sequence, he is at his best when he sings "Botany Bay" and "Lime Juice Tub."

Deborah Kerr gave the role both a touch of delicacy and a touch of sensuality… She wins, for her impressive performance, her sixth and last Oscar nomination…

The motion picture, splendidly photographed in Technicolor and with a nice atmospheric music, contains fires in the dry forests, shearing contests, fist-fights, the Aussie's love of beer, a game of two-up, a big race meeting, much of the beautiful Australian landscape and the life on sheep farming stations…

48 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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