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Wake in Fright (1971)

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After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent.



(screenplay), (based on the novel by)
4,302 ( 3,582)
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doc Tydon
John Grant
Chips Rafferty ...
Jock Crawford
Sylvia Kay ...
Janette Hynes
Peter Whittle ...
Al Thomas ...
Tim Hynes
John Armstrong ...
Slim DeGrey ...
Jarvis (as Slim De Grey)
Maggie Dence ...
Norm Erskine ...
Joe the Cook (as Norman Erskine)
Owen Moase ...
1st Controller
John Dalleen ...
2nd Controller
Buster Fiddess ...
Charlie Jones


Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But his one night stretches to five and he plunges headlong toward his own destruction. When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have some dust and sweat, mate? There's nothing else out here.


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 July 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Outback  »

Box Office


AUD 700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,761 (USA) (5 October 2012)


$50,394 (USA) (21 December 2012)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


James Mason and Robert Helpmann were both also considered to play Doc Tydon. See more »


Inside Doc Tydon's hut, there is a window near the back door seen when Grant wants to go to the toilet. However, from outside, the window is at least a meter from the door. See more »


Van Driver: [John is declining an invitation from the stranger who gave him a ride in a jeep] Come on, come and have a drink.
John Grant: Look mate, I've given up drinking for a while.
Van Driver: What's wrong with you, you bastard? Why don't you come and drink with me? I've just brought you fifty miles in the heat and dust, and you won't drink with me? What's wrong with you?
John Grant: What's the matter with you people, huh? Sponge on you, burn your house down, murder your wife, rape your child, that's all right. But you don't have a drink,...
See more »


Referenced in Australian Movies to the World (1983) See more »


The Old Grey Mare
Sung by passengers on the train
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Every blow hits home
18 July 2002 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

Yet another first-class film made in Australia by foreigners (a Canadian director working for a British studio), during the long period from World War II to the early 1970s when Australian cinema lay fallow. Like many other good ones - "The Overlanders" (1946), "They're a Weird Mob" (1966), "Age of Consent" (1969), "Walkabout" (1971) - although "Walkabout" is more seriously flawed than the others I've named - it doesn't feel like a foreign film; it feels as if the director made an honest attempt to be Australian, and succeeded. It's interesting that all these films are British. American films shot in Australia during the same period are, without qualification, American films; one scarcely even notices that "On the Beach" was shot in Melbourne rather than, say, Capetown or Tierra del Fuego, however many trams and banksias there may be.

The central character is clearly English; just as clearly, he doesn't like Australia. But I suspect that even in 1971 a greater proportion of Australians would have felt themselves to have been trapped in Hell if they'd been in his circumstances, than English. A greater proportion of Australians, then as now, live in cities, and the outback is further away from over 90% of Australians than anything is from anyone in England.

It's interesting that this fellow should be so RIGHT about everything (The Yabba IS a "bloody terrible" place, the hospitality he encounters DOES border on aggression, the game of two-up IS about as simple-minded and dull as it's possible for a game of chance to be), and yet be such an unsympathetic, unimaginative prig with scarcely more insight than he has backbone. He always needs a local to tell him what's going on and even then he doesn't get it. Yet we follow him with fascination and real concern all the same.

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