Sydney, Australia in the mid-1920's. Proud and classy Caddie Marsh is forced to get a job as a barmaid and raise two children on her own after her rich cad husband walks out on her. Despite...
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Sydney, Australia in the mid-1920's. Proud and classy Caddie Marsh is forced to get a job as a barmaid and raise two children on her own after her rich cad husband walks out on her. Despite numerous hardships such as the Great Depression, Caddie still manages to catch the eye of smooth dandy Ted and strikes up a romantic relationship with dashing Greek gentleman Peter. Written by
2016 marks the fortieth anniversary of "Caddie" and also my first viewing of this film which I've heard so much about over the years. And four decades have not dimmed the inner beauty that shines through it. I know that it rates highly on many people's list of top Australian movies and it's now near the top of my list too.
Helen Morse and Jacki Weaver give marvellous performances. Morse captures Caddie so well, from her early vulnerability (the rough environment of the working-class pub, the sense that being Ted's girl may be the best she could hope for) through her growing self- confidence as she learns to take control of her world (her outrage at the department store worker demanding her husband's name and occupation before they'd let her spend her own money). Weaver is every bit as good as kind-hearted, gentle Josie, whose life could have been Caddie's too if things had been different and Caddie had been less able to bear the slings and arrows of Australian society in the 1920s and 30s. And a special nod to Drew Forsythe for the understated way he portrayed Sonny, too shy to follow his heart.
"Caddie" is not perfect of course. Jack Thompson's Ted is rather a cliché, John Ewart does the Irish way over the top, Takis Emmanuel seems to have two settings (smoldering and smoldering) and many other characters are mere snapshots, never fleshed out. The movie's structure is also very episodic and at times is a collage of incidents, with the time between one period and the next accelerating from months to years near the end. I also found the conclusion jarring as we learn about Peter's fate while being treated to Caddie happily playing with her children.
But really these are minor points in view of the overall success of the film artistically (and financially: it made seven times what it cost). "Caddie" is ultimately an uplifting experience about empowerment, maternal love and mateship wrapped in some great acting. It's sheer joy.
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