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Mad Dog Morgan (1976)

The true story of Irish outlaw Daniel Morgan, who is wanted, dead or alive, in Australia during the 1850s.



(screenplay), (book)

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2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Detective Manwaring
Superintendent Cobham
Superintendent Winch
Wallas Eaton ...
Sergeant Smith
Martin Harris ...
Robin Ramsay ...
Graeme Blundell ...
Italian Jack
Gregory Apps ...
Liza Lee-Atkinson ...
Elaine Baillie ...
Farm Girl
Don Barkham ...


Australia in the 1850s. Daniel Morgan, like hundreds of other ex-patriots from the British Isles (he is from Ireland), has come Downunder to seek his fortune. There is a gold rush going on, and Morgan wants to strike it rich. As fate would have it, Morgan soon finds himself on the other side of the law, broke and desperate. A single act of highway robbery gets him 12 years of hard labor. While in prison, he is systematically abused. Upon release, Morgan vows revenge on those who wronged him. With the help of an aborigine named Billy, and a growing legend of audacity, Morgan soon becomes a hero. The locals love him, while the wealthy and powerful fear his influence. They want this outlaw dead or alive, and will stop at nothing to see that their sense of justice is done. But Morgan only wants those to pay for the crimes they have committed, to recognize that he wasn't always a bushranger - he was made into one. It wasn't only his mind that made him bad. It was society that turned him ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1850s | outlaw | australia | dog | prison | See All (87) »


beaten, branded, brutalized, but never broken. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 July 1976 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Mad Dog Morgan  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


David Gulpilil went walkabout during the middle of production to ask the trees about Dennis Hopper; reportedly, the trees told Gulpilil that Hopper was crazy. See more »


The end credits show the copyright date in roman numerals that is incorrect. They are displayed as MCMDXXVI, but for 1976 they should be MCMLXXVI. See more »


Supt. Cobham: By all means, off with his head... and don't forget the scrotum.
See more »


Featured in Western Outlaws: 50 Movie MegaPack (2016) See more »


Over The Border
Australian traditional song
Performed by Danny Spooner
See more »

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User Reviews

Hopper turns Irish outlaw.
22 January 2007 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

Australia, in the 1850s. An Irish man Daniel Morgan starts off as gold-seeking immigrant who turns to robbery and gets sentenced to 12 years prison time. This is where the going gets truly tough and scars his mind. After a couple years he gets released. After befriending an aboriginal named Billy, he becomes a bushranger with an ever-growing bounty looming over his head. The two go out of their way to seek those prominent figures for turning him into what he is and for pushing him to the brink of self-destruction. On his trail is the determined Detective Mainwaring, which puts even more pressure on the cracking mind of Daniel "Mad Dog" Morgan.

I heard of the film before, but never had the chance to see it until just recently when I managed to pick myself up a copy of the film. Those who believe this to be a sorely forgotten Australian gem, do make a valid point and I'll be jumping onto the bandwagon too. Cult Aussie director Philippe Mora makes his directorial debut with an interestingly odd, exploratory and rampant curio piece of an Australian bushranger folk legend. It doesn't feel like your basic outlaw movie, as hounding the picture is a socially minded lashing of corrupt power taking away the respectability of a lone and misunderstood figure (Daniel Morgan). We watch the spiralling depiction of a fazed man fighting a society who thinks they are better accustomed and more civilized than him because of his actions against them (but that's far from the case). I didn't think it was going to be as harrowing and potently involving as it was, but this is very much largely thanks to spellbinding method actor Dennis Hopper's (who fell out favour with Hollywood at the time) multi-layered performance as Mad Dog Morgan. His erratic changes in mood (from being placidly polite to passionately quick tempered) are very successfully timed and indeed convincing. One of his best.

Leading the way is a strong Australian support cast with their characters getting enough time to shine. David Gulpilil is a good choice as Billy and has a budding rapport that works along with Hopper's character. Frank Thring stands out as the aggressively bull-headed Superintendent Cobham and a poignantly stern Jack Thompson makes the most of his small role as Detective Mainwaring. Also lurking on screen with tip-top (and some quirky) performances are John Hargreaves, Wallace Eaton, Bill Hunter (who chews up the scenery) and Bruce Spence ticks in with a blink and you'll miss it spot. These are very human characters and cast do a fine job in bringing that to the screen. Mora has crafted a roughly violent tale that skews between cheekiness and a spiritual foray in a well up drawn period. The story jauntily breezes by to begin with then falls into some patchy holes when it can drag, but never gets dull or loses its bitingly ironic edge. It seems to be more complex in its character's reactions than the basic narrative lets on. Mora smoothly plays along with his stylish filming techniques and has a gifted eye for short spurts of flair and (at time surreal) images. No more than some of the well mounted photography by Mike Molloy focuses on the vastly stunning backdrop of the untamed Australian wilderness and accompanying the action is an diversely roaring music score that fits right in with the style Mora's going for.

"Mad Dog Morgan" is an overlooked Australian rarity of the 70s, which is hard not to be highly fascinated by its boldly rough and evocatively baseless treatment of the stirring material.

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