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Mad Max (1979) Poster

(1979)

Trivia

The burned hand that falls into view in the hospital is actually Sheila Florance's (May Swaisey).
Jump to: Cameo (1) | Spoilers (4)
The "get-out-of-jail-free card" that Goose gives the triker was an on-set joke. Because of the limited budget, the biker gang was an actual biker gang (the Vigilantes), and they had to ride to the set each day in-costume; often with their prop weapons displayed. Since the production company expected them to be pulled over by the local police, each was given a letter explaining the film's peculiar requirements, and asking for law-enforcement's understanding and cooperation.
George Miller raised the money for Mad Max (1979) by working as an emergency room doctor.
Shot in twelve weeks, on a meager three hundred fifty thousand dollar budget, in and around Melbourne.
Hugh Keays-Byrne, who plays Toecutter, went on to play Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Tim Burns (Johnny the Boy) was so into character, that he annoyed everyone on-set, and was abandoned one day during lunch while handcuffed to the wreck.
Mel Gibson didn't go to the audition for this film to read for a part, he actually went along with his sister, who was auditioning. But because he had been in a bar fight the night before, and his head looked like "a black and blue pumpkin" (his words), he was told he could come back and audition in three week's time because, "we need freaks!" He did return in three weeks' time, wasn't recognized (because his injuries had healed well), and was asked to read for a part.
Some of the things Nightrider says over the radio are lyrics from the AC/DC song "Rocker."
The van that is smashed in the opening chase, was long reported to be George Miller's own vehicle, as the production was running out of money. However, only the first shot of the vehicle (driving) was actually Miller's Bongo. The van that was smashed, was a wreck from a scrapyard. About twenty percent of the chase scenes scheduled, were not shot, due to lack of money.
George Miller paid a truck driver fifty dollars to run over the bike at the final scene. However, the truck driver didn't want to damage his rig; thus the crew had to install a shield painted to look like the front of the rig.
The blue van that was wrecked in the film's opening chase, had the engine removed, and was pushed into the path of the oncoming cars by off-camera assistants. The lack of the engine's weight caused the van to spin uncontrollably, adding to the spectacular crash. The buckets atop the roof were filled with milk.
Because of the tight budget, actual decommissioned police cars were used in the film. Only Steve Bisley (Goose) was wearing real leathers. All the other police officers were wearing vinyl costumes. The motorcycles, all late model demonstration units, were donated by Kawasaki. Many of the bikers kept them after the shooting was completed.
Because he was relatively unknown in the U.S., trailers and previews did not feature Mel Gibson, instead focusing on the car crashes and action scenes.
The first scene shot, was that of Johnny breaking the chain on the overpass phone. He appears hurried, not only because of the storyline, but also because the film company didn't have permission to shoot on that overpass.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (George Miller): (doctor): Miller's past as a doctor is referenced in St. George's hospital, which features in the film. Mad Max Rockatansky is named for nineteenth century pathologist Carl von Rokitansky, originator of the Rokitansky procedure, the most common method for removal of the internal organs in an autopsy.
Hugh Keays-Byrne, Tim Burns, and Reg Evans (Toecutter, Johnny the Boy, and the stationmaster) were all classically-trained Shakespearean stage actors.
The Nightrider's spectacular crash, was the result of a military booster rocket being installed in the back of the car. It went out of control, missed the target fuel tanker, and veered off into the field where it chased the film crew for 1/4 mile. The on-camera explosion was a later re-creation using a safer towed car.
Hugh Keays-Byrne modeled his performance of Toecutter after historical records written about Mongolian warlord Temujin, also known as Genghis Khan.
The auto accident scene was made as realistic as possible, thanks to George Miller's experience as a medical doctor.
The voice of Robina Chaffey, the singer of the Sugartown Night Club, was the only voice left undubbed in this film's original U.S. release.
Before the film was released in the United States, distributor American International Pictures overdubbed the actors' speaking voices. The 2002 Special Edition DVD release was the first U.S. DVD to feature the original Australian language track.
Sheila Florance broke her knee when she tripped while running with the antique shotgun. She returned to complete her scenes with her leg and hip in plaster.
Max's yellow interceptor car, a Ford Falcon XB sedan, was originally a police car from the Australian state of Victoria.
Steve Bisley's eyes are red and puffy, because he had to spend several hours suspended in the truck.
Only film in the franchise not to end on, nor contain, narration.
In a 2015 interview with The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast, George Miller said that it was not the intention when the script was written, to set it in a post-apocalyptic world. This was done because they didn't have the money for extras and properly maintained buildings. In order to cover for this production value limitation, the title card was added to the beginning, explaining the story was set after a world war. This also accounts for why there is generally more of an established society in this film, then any of the sequels.
George Miller described the whole experience as "guerrilla filmmaking", where the crew would close roads without filming permits, not use walkie-talkies because their frequency coincided with the police radio, and after filming was done Miller and Byron Kennedy would even sweep down the roads. Still, as filming progressed the Victoria Police became interested in the production, helping the crew by closing down roads and escorting the vehicles.
George Miller was inspired by A Boy and His Dog (1975).
At the time of the film's release, the American audience had virtually no experience with, and therefore very great difficulty understanding, dialogue with an Australian accent. That's why Mel Gibson's voice was overdubbed by another actor - to prevent otherwise-certain commercial failure of Mad Max in the U.S., due to Americans' rejection of "unintelligible" characters.
Early in the film there is a brief shot of two road signs. They read: "Anarchie" (Anarchy), and "Bedlam." This Road sign actually exists in Australia.
In The Madness of Max (2015), it was revealed the actors who played the bikers were sometimes treated like they were actual delinquents. Geoff Parry (Bubba Zanetti) walked into a bank with bleached hair to cash a check and they refused him service. David Bracks (Mudguts) walked into a restaurant in his gear and was told to leave because they "didn't serve his kind."
Most of the extras used in the film were paid in beer.
The handcuffs that Max uses on Johnny the Boy are novelty (toy) handcuffs.
The car that Max drives (a black "Pursuit Special"; the phrase "the last of the V8s" was used once, and later as "the last of the V8 interceptors" was used until The Road Warrior (1981)) is a production car, the Ford "XB Falcon Coupe", sold in Australia from December 1973 until August 1976. The car in the film had a standard 351 cubic inch (5.7 liter) V8 engine.
Besides Mel Gibson, only one other actor appeared in this film and The Road Warrior (1981). That was Max Fairchild - originally as Benno, and then as a pleading hostage on the front of Humungus' car.
The custom blower on the Pursuit Special was purely cosmetic, it was belted up to a starter motor underneath the hood, and did nothing to the air intake.
The original cover art actually depicts Jim Goose, as "Mad" Max Rockatansky never wears a helmet with a mouthguard, nor shin and forearm shields, in the entire film.
Only two original Interceptors were used in the Mad Max movies. The one that was used in this film was modified and reused in all of the interior and close-up car shots in The Road Warrior (1981). After filming was over, this Interceptor was bought and restored by Bob Fursenko, and was on display in the "Cars of the Stars Motor Museum" in England. The Cars of the Stars Motor Museum was in the English town of Keswick, Cumbria, and included a collection of celebrity television and film vehicles. On May 8, 2011, the attraction closed, with a message on the museum website stating "...check the website for details of the relocation of the vehicles to a new location shortly..." As of December 2011, all the cars have been sold, except for the original Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) Reliant van. Another car was built for the chase scenes in the second movie, but that one was destroyed when the script required it to be pushed off the road and blown up. The wreckage used to be viewable at Broken Hill, Australia, but due to thefts it can't be found there any longer. The Planet Hollywood Interceptor is a replica and was never used in any of the films.
Screenwriter James McCausland drew heavily from his observations of the 1973 oil crisis' effects on Australian motorists: "Yet there were further signs of the desperate measures individuals would take to ensure mobility. A couple of oil strikes that hit many pumps revealed the ferocity with which Australians would defend their right to fill a tank. Long queues formed at the stations with petrol-and anyone who tried to sneak ahead in the queue met raw violence. George and I wrote the script based on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving, and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy, until it was too late."
The "old meat-grinder" scene was shot on the West Gate Freeway bridge while it was still under construction.
The film's post-production was done at Producer Byron Kennedy's house, with Director George Miller and Kennedy editing the film, in Kennedy's bedroom, on a home-built editing machine, that Kennedy's father, an engineer, had designed for them. Miller and Kennedy also edited the sound there.
One of the first Australian films shot with a widescreen anamorphic lens, though predated by The Cars That Ate Paris (1974).
One of the yellow interceptors, a Ford Falcon XA GCI, was a decommissioned taxi cab.
The knees of the vinyl MFP trousers were a weak point. In various shots, characters can be seen with trouser legs split horizontally at the knee. For example, Roop atop the bunker; Max's left knee during the fight with Johnny; and Max's right knee after he gets shot. In the opening scene, a shot of Charlie shows that his knee has been mended.
Mel Gibson got the part of Max Rockatansky while still a drama student. He was paid ten thousand dollars.
The Interceptor cost over thirty-five thousand dollars to build. That's more than three times Mel Gibson's salary for the movie.
The first time Tim Burns met Hugh Keays-Byrne, he introduced himself and told him he would be playing Johnny the Boy. Hugh responded by grabbing him by the face and snarled, "Johnny the Boy!"
When Toecutter sticks the shotgun barrel into Johnny the Boy's mouth, it cut the inside of Tim Burns' mouth.
A lot of the stunt driving in this movie was illegal, and done quickly, before authorities could find out.
George Miller got the idea to make this movie when seeing hospital patients suffer many motorcycle and automobile accidents when working as an emergency room doctor. Most of the injuries he saw were put into the movie.
Goose's motorcycle is a 1977 Kawasaki Z1000, but the metal "Kawasaki" badge has been removed from the gas tank and replaced with a decal that reads "Kwaka" - clearly visible on the Blu-ray version at 0:40:50.
George Miller's first choice for the role of Max, was the Irish-born James Healey, who at the time worked at a Melbourne abattoir and was seeking a new acting job. Upon reading the script, Healey declined, finding the meager, terse dialogue too unappealing.
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Most of the biker gang extras were members of actual Australian outlaw motorcycle clubs and rode their own motorcycles in the film. They were even forced to ride the motorcycles from their residence in Sydney to the shooting locations in Melbourne because the budget did not allow for aerial transport.
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Hugh Keays-Byrne changes his accent, scene to scene, to make his character seem insane.
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The crew couldn't afford a breakaway prop door, so the actors had to break through solid wood.
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The filmmakers mixed crow noises into the seagull sounds to make one scene more ominous.
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Jessie doesn't use real sign language. They're just some movements that Joanne Samuel made up.
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Although it is now referred to as an (or "the") Interceptor, Max's black car is technically a Pursuit Special. It was referred to as "the last of the V8 interceptors" in The Road Warrior (1981), but never actually named in "Mad Max". The MFP dispatcher says over the radio, after Max takes the car, "Code unspecified. We have a 'query/locate' on a black Pursuit Special: Unauthorized use by a Main Force officer. This is designated as a potential Code 3 Red Alert."
Often credited as the movie that opened up the global market for Australian movies. On it's shoestring budget, it managed to gross one hundred million dollars worldwide - setting a new record for most profitable independent film of all time. It held that Guinness World record until it was out-grossed by The Blair Witch Project (1999).
Byron Kennedy and George Miller first took the film to Graham Burke of Roadshow, who was enthusiastic. The producers felt they would be unable to raise money from the government bodies "because Australian producers were making art films, and the corporations and commissions seemed to endorse them whole-heartedly", according to Kennedy. They designed a forty-page presentation, circulated it widely, and eventually raised the money. Kennedy and Miller also contributed funds themselves, by doing three months of emergency medical calls, with Kennedy driving the car while Miller did the doctoring.
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Originally, filming was scheduled to take ten weeks-six weeks of first unit, and four weeks on stunt and chase sequences. However, four days into shooting, Rosie Bailey, who was originally cast as Jessie, was injured in a bike accident. Production was halted, and Bailey was replaced by Joanne Samuel, causing a two-week delay.
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This was one of the first Australian films to be shot with a widescreen anamorphic lens, although The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) was shot in anamorphic four years earlier. George Miller's desire to shoot in anamorphic made him seek a set of Todd-AO wide angle lenses used by Sam Peckinpah to film The Getaway (1972), which were damaged enough in that shoot to get discarded in Australia. The only one which worked properly was a 35mm lens which was employed in the whole of the film.
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Tony Paterson edited the film for four months, then had to leave because he was contracted to make Dimboola (1979). George Miller took over editing with Cliff Hayes, and they worked on it for three months. Miller and Byron Kennedy did the final cut, in a process Miller described as "he would cut sound in the lounge room, and I'd cut picture in the kitchen."
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George Miller wanted a Gothic, Bernard Herrmann-type score, and hired Brian May after hearing his work for Patrick (1978).
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Scenes cut from the film: . Jessie shaving Max after the Nightrider chase. . After The Toecutter and his gang come into town to pick up The Nightrider's body, they wander around the town and meet the locals. . Max and Goose drag racing each other for fun, with Max riding a bike and Goose driving a car. . Max arming himself for his quest, including sawing off his shotgun. . During Max's pursuit of the bikers, the engine in the interceptor cuts out. . Prior to finding Johnny Boy, Max tends to his wounds. This scene appears in the trailer and in the opening montage of The Road Warrior (1981).
Judy Davis was said to have auditioned for the role of Jessie and passed over, but George Miller has declared she was only there to accompany her classmates Mel Gibson and Steve Bisley.
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Frankie J. Holden stated in an interview, that he auditioned for the role of Jim Goose, while he was an unknown actor, but thinks that he did not get the role because George Miller did not take too kindly to Holden's criticism of the script when they chatted after his audition.
The stolen interceptor driven by the Nightrider in the opening scenes is another production vehicle. It is an "HQ Holden Monaro", which was sold in Australia in the early '70s with a variety of motors including large capacity V8s. Also, the other police vehicles in the movie, were sedan versions of the XB, although one was the previous model XA..They also had 351 cubic inch engines, and are a common car on Australian roads.
In New Zealand, the film was given the R18 rating for graphic violence.
George Miller has called the film a mix of two genres - the car action movie and the horror movie.
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The house used for May's farmhouse was abandoned, and had to be filled with furniture from the filmmakers' own houses.
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No stunt doubles were used for the hand-to-hand fighting.
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May holds a Charles Parker 1878 shotgun. They stopped making them after World War II.
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George Miller estimates that there are only fifty frames of explicit violence in the film. The rest is implied.
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Because Mel Gibson was a complete unknown, Roger Ward was the most famous person on-set.
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Three of the main cast members (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Roger Ward, and Vincent Gil) had previously appeared in Stone (1974), a movie about biker gangs, that is said to have inspired George Miller.
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The film was on a such a low budget, that some of the crew members had to bring in their own cars.
According to George Miller, his interest while writing the film was "a silent movie with sound", employing highly kinetic images reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, while the narrative itself was basic and simple. Miller believed that audiences would find his violent story more believable, if set in a bleak dystopian future.
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Max's yellow Interceptor was a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan (previously, a Melbourne police car) with a 351 cubic inch (5.7 liter) Cleveland V8 engine, and many other modifications. The Big Bopper, driven by Roop and Charlie, was also a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan, but was powered by a 302 cubic inch (5.0 liter) V8. The March Hare, driven by Sarse and Scuttle, was an in-line-six-powered 1972 Ford Falcon XA sedan (this car was formerly a Melbourne taxi cab). The most memorable car, Max's black Pursuit Special - frequently designated an "Interceptor", based on a mechanic's quote in The Road Warrior (1981) - was a limited GT351 version of a 1973 Ford XB Falcon Hardtop (sold in Australia from December 1973 to August 1976), which was primarily modified by Murray Smith, Peter Arcadipane, and Ray Beckerley. After filming was over, this Interceptor was bought and restored by Bob Forsenko, and is currently on display in the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, England. The Nightrider's vehicle, another Pursuit Special, was a 1972 Holden HQ LS Monaro coupe. The car driven by the couple, that is destroyed by the bikers, was a 1959 Chevrolet Impala sedan. Of the motorcycles that appear in the film, fourteen were donated by Kawasaki, and were driven by a local Victorian motorcycle gang, the Vigilantes, who appeared as members of Toecutter's gang. By the end of filming, fourteen vehicles had been destroyed in the chase and crash scenes, including George Miller's personal Mazda Bongo.
Sound Engineer Roger Savage would perform the sound mixing in the studio. He worked after finishing his work with The Little River Band, and employed timecoding techniques that were unseen in Australian cinema.
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George Miller described the film as "a western in new clothes".
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Special Effects Supervisor Chris Murray put oil on the tires to make them smoke.
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Max's last name is a reference to Baron Carl von Rokitansky, a physician from the 1800s. Before he was a director, George Miller was a medical doctor.
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It was Roger Ward's idea for his character to wear a scarf in one scene. "If I was going bare top, I was going to wear a tie."
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The white 1961 Ford Falcon station wagon seen at the diner, and outside Goose's apartment (where Johnny the Boy was hiding) was privately owned by one of the production crew, who later sold the car after the film's release.
For one shot, Cinematographer David Eggby held the camera while he was a passenger on a motorcycle. LAFautoater, he realized he'd been going 110 miles per hour. "I knew we were risking our lives out there."
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Goose's motorcycle is a 1977 Kawasaki KZ-1000. It has a top speed of 120 miles per hour. The sticker on the side, is of a goose wearing goggles.
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Steve Bisley claimed that he got the role of Jim Goose, because he knew how to ride a motorcycle, rather than his acting ability.
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Mel Gibson and Steve Bisley were roommates at Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art. It was Bisley who encouraged Gibson to audition for the film.
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Clunk and Diabando are the only members of Toecutter's main gang to have no spoken lines, and Diabando and Starbuck are the only members to never have their names spoken on-screen.
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For the lead role, George Miller had considered an American actor to "get the film seen as widely as possible" and even travelled to Los Angeles, but eventually opted to not do so as "the whole budget would be taken up by a so-called American name." So instead the cast would deliberately feature lesser known actors, so they did not carry past associations with them.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The Grease Rat is working on a 1936 Chevrolet two-door Town Sedan.
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The only film in the franchise to have the R18 rating in New Zealand.
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In the opening scene, if you look closely at the Highway 9 Sector 26 sign. There is a date written on the sign: December 6th 1984 and the MFP sign at the Halls of Justice also has a date on it: MFP Established in 1983. This means that the film takes in the mid 1980s.
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If you look closely at The Toecutter's first scene. One of The Toecutter's gang members has the Pepsi logo on his helmet.
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At the beginning of the movie, there is graffiti sprayed onto a boulder, reading the words "f**k you" in Greek, a nod to George Miller's Greek heritage.
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Critics complained about the level of violence in the film. But, if you watch the film. The worst scenes of violence happen off-screen, and we only see the aftermath of the violence.
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Max's MFP (Main Force Patrol) number is 4073, Jim Goose's is 2241, Charlie's is either 3840 or 3842.
At the time of the first screening in Japan, the song "Rollin' into the Night", by Akira Kushida was played over the end credits.
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The truck driver was paid fifty dollars and a case of beer for his vehicle and driving.
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It has been speculated that the Marvel comic book "The Punisher", which was first published in 1974, was a possible major influence behind Mad Max. Like Max Rockatansky, the comic's main protagonist, Frank Castle, becomes the vigilante known as "The Punisher", after his family is murdered by the Mafia.
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The 1959 Chevy Impala was about to be junked, before the crew rescued it.
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When George Miller was developing the movie, the film wasn't going to be a science fiction film set in a dystopic future and originally the character of Max Rockatansky wasn't a policeman whom succumbs to madness when he loses his family and that Max was a journalist whom becomes a shell of a man when goes from one place to another witnessing horrific accidents.
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The handgun Bubba Zanetti uses is a Mauser C96 "broomhandle".
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In November 1977, it was announced in several Australian newspapers that actress and model 'Katie Morgan would be appearing in the film as Jim Goose's girlfriend, named Calamine.
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George Miller mounted cameras on the cars, to put the audience in the middle of the action.
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The filmmakers used an Australian Navy rocket for one stunt.
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One scene is an homage to the train station scene in High Noon (1952).
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The movie was given an R18 rating in New Zealand.
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To answer Homer's question, this movie and Die Hard (1988) were acquainted only briefly.
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Reg Evans (The Station Master) and Geoff Parry (Bubba Zanetti) appeared with Mel Gibson in Gallipoli (1981).
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Entertainment Weekly ranked this Number Three on their "Guilty Pleasures: Testosterone Edition" list in their March 30, 2007 issue.
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This movie served as an inspiration for the Max Payne series.
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Cameo 

James McCausland: The bearded man wearing an apron in front of the roadside diner watching the police cyclists and tow trucks drive away is the film's co-writer.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

This movie was banned in New Zealand for the scene when Goose is burned alive inside of his vehicle. It mirrored an incident with a real gang not long before the film came out. It was later shown in New Zealand in 1983, after the huge success of the sequel The Road Warrior (1981), but only as long as it had an R18 certificate.
Only film in the franchise where Max's Pursuit Special (later named in the sequels as the "Last of the V8 Interceptors.") survives to the end of the film. The car is destroyed in The Road Warrior (1981), when the Toadie tries to take the car's gas, and then crashes twice in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). The Interceptor does not appear in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).
Though asked by Max, but never elaborated on as to its meaning, the Toecutter gang has a small tattoo on the majority of each member located near or around their face ("Night Rider" right cheek. "Toecutter" right temple. "Bubba Zanetti" left cheek and so on) in the shape of the Greek symbol/letter "F", which is represented by a small circle with a vertical line running through its middle. This symbol, however, is not present on Johnny the Boy in the film, who is seen as the novice member of the gang, who is still being "taught" as it were. It is not until after he is responsible, and partakes in the death of MFP officer Jim Goose, is Johnny the Boy seen brandishing the gang tattoo on the left side of his neck at the end of the film, when Max handcuffs him to the back of the crashed vehicle he was looting. This would be a strong indication that the tattoo the Toecutter's gang wear is a symbol of their commitment by participating in the murder of a "Bronze" officer, as it is mentioned that Night Rider, who bares this mark as well, is a referred to as a "Cop Killer" at the films beginning, indicating that the Toecutter gang have been involved in the deaths of members of the Main Force Patrol. Given George Miller's Greek heritage, that is hinted at throughout the film and its sequels, and that Johnny the Boy is seen to be marked with the tattoo after he has committed murder, the symbol is more than likely to represent the first letter of the Greek word (foniás) which means "Killer".
The speech Max gives to Fifi, "Any longer out on that road, I am one of them. A terminal crazy. I wear the bronze badge to show them that I'm one of the good guys." foreshadows what is going to happen to Max, and sums up the character.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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