IMDb > My Brilliant Career (1979)
My Brilliant Career
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My Brilliant Career (1979) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Miles Franklin (novel)
Eleanor Witcombe (writer)
View company contact information for My Brilliant Career on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 August 1979 (Australia) See more »
Sometimes it is the things that bind us, that truly set us free. See more »
Sybylla Melvyn is an independent young woman who soon after arriving to live with her Grandmother Bossier... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 11 wins & 7 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Transucent Space, Layered Face See more (38 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Judy Davis ... Sybylla Melvyn

Sam Neill ... Harry Beecham

Wendy Hughes ... Aunt Helen

Robert Grubb ... Frank Hawdon

Max Cullen ... Mr. McSwatt
Aileen Britton ... Grandma Bossier
Peter Whitford ... Uncle Julius
Patricia Kennedy ... Aunt Gussie
Alan Hopgood ... Father

Julia Blake ... Mother

David Franklin ... Horace
Marion Shad ... Gertie
Arron Wood ... Stanley (as Aaron Wood)
Sue Davies ... Aurora
Gordon Piper ... Barman
James Moss ... Pub drinker
Bill Charlton ... Joe
Suzanne Roylance ... Biddy
Zelda Smyth ... Ethel
Bobbie Ward ... Mrs. Butler
Basil Clarke ... Butler
Amanda Pratt ... Blanche Derrick
Dorothy St. Heaps ... Mrs. Derrick
Gerry Duggan ... Squatter
Babs McMillan ... Miss Benson
Carole Skinner ... Mrs. McSwatt
Tony Hughes ... Peter McSwat
Tina Robinson Hansen ... Lizer McSwat (as Tina Robinson)
Aaron Corrin ... Jimmy McSwat
Sharon Crouch ... Sarah McSwat
Robert Austin ... Willie McSwat
Mark Spain ... Tommy McSwat
Simone Buchanan ... Mary Anne
Ray Meagher ... Mailman

Directed by
Gillian Armstrong 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Miles Franklin  novel
Eleanor Witcombe  writer

Produced by
Margaret Fink .... producer
Jane Scott .... associate producer
Original Music by
Nathan Waks 
Cinematography by
Donald McAlpine 
Film Editing by
Nicholas Beauman 
Casting by
Hilary Linstead 
Liz Mullinar 
Production Design by
Luciana Arrighi 
Art Direction by
Neil Angwin 
Costume Design by
Anna Senior 
Production Management
Jane Scott .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Steve E. Andrews .... third assistant director
Mark Egerton .... first assistant director
Mark Turnbull .... second assistant director
Art Department
Sue Armstrong .... assistant props buyer
Sound Department
Ned Dawson .... sound recordist: additional crew
Phil Judd .... sound effects recordist (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Roger Cowland .... visual effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Brian Bansgrove .... gaffer
Sam Bienstock .... electrician
David Burr .... focus puller
Louis Irving .... camera operator
Grahame Litchfield .... grip (as Graham Litchfield)
Richard Merryman .... second assistant camera
Peter Moss .... camera operator
Paul Moyes .... electrician
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Melody Cooper .... wardrobe assistant
Robin Hall .... wardrobe stand-by
Terry Ryan .... wardrobe master
Editorial Department
Frans Vandenburg .... assistant film editor (as Franz Vandenburg)
Other crew
Catherine Barber .... unit runner (as Cathy barber)
Moya Iceton .... continuity
Toivo Lember .... location manager
Jo Buchanan .... tutor/chaperone (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Spectrum Films  post-production facilities (as Spectrum Films International)

Additional Details

Also Known As:
100 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Director Gillian Armstrong was billed as Gill Armstrong on this film.See more »
Sybylla:Dear fellow countrymen, just a few words to let you know that this story is going to be all about me. So, in answer to many requests, here is the story of my career... here is the story, of my brilliant career. I make no apologies for sounding egotistical...because I am!See more »
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18 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
Transucent Space, Layered Face, 13 September 2006
Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach

Sometimes a life in film brings an experience like this. Its oddly tense in some dimensions and relaxed in others and the balance between the two seems distinctly Australian. I hadn't seen this when it was new, and I'm glad. Seeing a great film for the first time is a distinct pleasure.

I can think of only two similar pleasures in life.

Reviewers often focus on the story; its the common currency for discussion. The interesting fact behind the power of this movie is that the story is incoherent, poorly developed. There are a few main characters and none of them are attached to what are considered necessities for storytelling. They aren't introduced, we see them only through the effect of their presence. They don't develop. They influence nothing.

The main character is presented as a sort of Jane Austen — both an Austen woman encouraged to marry, and Austen herself as a sort of author-in-her-own-book, like we saw in the 1999 film of Mansfield Park. But the odd thing is that we have Austen in Australia, the role and all the expectations without the baroque mechanics of society swirling around. Instead we get cows and sheep.

And emptiness, a cinematic vastness that even the US hasn't yet produced, despite Terence Malick.

So the incompleteness of the story is part of the genius of the thing. Our heroine doesn't have an Austenian future, instead becomes a backcountry Louisa May Alcott or George Sand. Indeed, Davis did go on to play Sand and Anderson went on to direct "Little Women." What our filmmaker has done is create a story where we subconsciously notice something is missing. And then she fills it with two things, this translucent actress and a similarly translucent open landscape.

First the landscape. Watch the opening of this. Its genius, shooting from outside in, peering in through windows and doors while we see — literally — the story beginning to be written. Then we shoot from the inside through the same windows out and see a dust tempest beginning.

This notion of space, inadequate enclosure, book and heroine conflated into them and weaving through them was copied after a fashion in the opening for the 2005 "Pride and Prejudice." Here, it is fresh, original, shocking. Effective, even life-affirming.

You can see a similar master vision in how the ending is shaped. We see our woman, a best friend by this time, going to mail her book to us. She approaches the fence and her dog scurries under, unconstrained by fences. Its a small thing, but by then we've become aware of how wonderfully our hidden woman behind the camera has shaped everything so minutely. That dog moves under the gate naturally, using a gait and hole that can only have come through hundreds of such exits. I have no idea how Anderson did it.

And now to Ms. Davis. Over time you pick things from the film vocabulary that you cleave to, things that naturally tip into the bucket of your soul. One of these for me is a certain type of folded acting I've noticed in Australian actresses. Blanchett, Winslet are the ones I follow deeply.

But you can see it here and I imagine that this is the first appearance of the style in a competent film. In my own historiography, Judy Davis invented it and does so here. If you watch her manner, you can see Cate. The style is what I call folded, where we get both the character and a higher level communication from the actor about the character.

We have a few folded actresses. What's even rarer is when the actress is intelligent and skilled enough to place that higher fold in the center of the filmmaker's intention. It happens here. Its beautiful, on a simpler level echoing the fact that we see a book, its making, and various considerations about the making of the book.

Because it is this sort of translucent folding, we see Cate when we see Judy.

You won't soon forget that.

I'm putting this on my list of films you really must see. Readers may be shocked. I only allow myself two from any given years and this year gave us "Alien," "Apocalypse Now," "Manhattan," and "Tree of Wooden Clogs," all of which are bumped by this. But this will change you, a female Herzog, unHerzog.

Now if I can only see "High Tide."

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.

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Poor Sam Neill swolfcg
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Absolutely magical movie ilovenature5
Classical Piece Night-Flight
Wrong film but good mnewlands
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