Wake in Fright (1971)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  21 July 1971 (France)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,616 users   Metascore: 88/100
Reviews: 55 user | 118 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

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)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doc Tydon
Gary Bond ...
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

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?


The novel's author, Kenneth Cook, based the fictional town of Bundanyabba on Broken Hill in New South Wales, where much of the movie was filmed on location. The train is seen arriving at "Bundanyabba Sulphide St" station, and Sulphide Street is a genuine station in Broken Hill. Broken Hill is one of the most isolated inland towns in Australia. See more »


As Grant leaves the hotel bar in Tiboonda, he takes one last swig of beer - leaving his glass half full. In the next shot, when the camera focuses on the interior of the bar, his glass is now empty. See more »


'Doc' Tydon: I'm a doctor of medicine. And a tramp by temperament. I'm also an alcoholic. My disease prevented me from practicing in Sydney. But out here it's scarcely noticeable.
See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: Venice Film Festival 2013 (2013) See more »


She'll be coming around the mountain
Traditional, based on a Negro spiritual
Sung by passengers on the train
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the great movies of all time
1 July 1999 | by (Darwin, Australia) – See all my reviews

This is one of my favourite films of all time and I'm not surprised when I hear of others who also see it as one of their favourites (including singer Nick Cave and Robert Mitchum). Detailing the life of a city school teacher stuck in an Australian outback town, this movie shows in great detail the ugly side of Australian country life that the Australian tourist authorities attempt to hide. Excellent performances by all the actors, including Donald Pleasance, Jack Thompson, John Mellion and the legendary Australian character actor Chips Rafferty (in his final film) help give the film a very gritty "real" texture.

Known as "Wake in Fright" in Australia, the film is still powerful nearly thirty years after it was made, although viewers unaccustomed to the Australian lingo may need an Australian strine dictionary to get them through some scenes. I saw this film with a Polish friend who was so overawed by the film and wanted to get a copy of the movie to take back to Poland and show it commercially there.

As an interesting side note, at the end of the film, in the spot usually reserved for the caption "No animals were harmed in the filming of this movie" is instead a note stating that the kangaroos killed during the making of the movie were killed as part of an official kangaroo culling programme.

See this movie if you can.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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