A former English boxing champion, Billy Baker, arrives in America with a kangaroo with an unusual talent for boxing. Needing to support himself, he reluctantly joins up with a small time talent agent featuring the kangaroo, Matilda (who's a male kangaroo despite the feminine name) as a carnival act. But when the world heavyweight boxing champion, Lee Dockerty, offers to take Matilda on at the carnival to impress a girlfriend, and Matilda KO's Dockerty into the middle of next week with a single punch, Billy and his marsupial friend are catapulted into the big time, with Matilda now headlining main boxing events, and soon ready to challenge Dockerty for his championship title. This attracts the notice of a mob boss who wants control of Matilda and his growing fame and fortune, and an activist determined to see Billy and Bernie stopped for promoting cruelty to animals. It will take all of Bernie's wits, Billy's wisdom, and Matilda's punching speed and power to get themselves all through ... Written by
The film's Matilda (1978) title refers to the name of the movie's central character, an Australian boxing kangaroo called "Matilda", and it is a totally unrelated property to the later children's' film Matilda (1996), which was made and released about eighteen years after this film. See more »
When Bernie confronts Kathleen outside her apartment, one dog (the bloodhound) follows her up the steps when she goes back inside. In the next shot, it is back down at the bottom of the steps with Bernie. See more »
American-International cancelled its plans to widely market and release this movie after disasterous test runs - a wise plan, but upon seeing the movie you have to wonder why they even bothered with test runs. I have no idea how the tale of a boxing kangaroo played in the original Paul Gallico novel, but nothing works about it translated into a movie. Kids won't like it - they will be confused half the time with details like sports corruption and boxing rules/regulations, and the other half of the time they'll be finding the events remarkably unfunny and unengaging. Adults will be finding the events remarkably unfunny and unengaging *all* the time!
It's not just the script that's bad. Though the movie had something of a budget, the production looks remarkably cheap and tacky. Obviously, that includes the kangaroo animatronic costume, which looks so phony that even a two year-old will recognize it's a man in a costume. Though there are also things like sets that look like, well, SETS, and dirty and unfocused cinematography.
Nobody behind the scenes seems to have put any heart and passion in the production, and it's no wonder the actors are dragged down with it. Gould (who further killed his career with this movie) does put in some effort despite the fact you can see in his eyes that he knows he's in a stinker, but his broad performance ends up adding to the feeling the movie is mocking the viewer. At least it is a performance; Robert Mitchum doesn't even TRY putting in any effort in his scenes (which were clearly knocked off in a couple of days at most!)
Still, the movie clearly could have been worse. That's because there are signs that the movie was originally LONGER! One example: take the scene where the mobsters are attempting to jump the kangaroo for the first time - one of them utters "This time we'll...." - indicating there was originally another scene earlier when they tried to get the kangaroo. Think about it: somewhere in some vault, there exists a longer version of this movie! Scary!
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