The best Australian film never to receive wide release.
Maybe you need to be a Queenslander of a certain age to fully appreciate the subtlety of the Bob Elllis script, as no doubt Ray Barrett playing Michael Stacey (a disgraced former Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner)understood not only the irony of the Ellis screenplay but also the time and place of the setting. While it is believed the film was in part financed by Hoyts Cinemas, it never received wide release given the sensitivity of the time (it was released prior to the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption in Queensland, Australia). In short Stacey, recently kicked out of the police force, retires in a drunken fog to the back blocks of the glamorous Gold Coast to write a tell-all memoir. However, greater forces are at work and Stacey is drawn into the search for a Senator's daughter who has disappeared with a famous artwork. While Stacey, the alcoholic, guilt-ridden Catholic, begins a quest with schoolboy innocence he cannot escape his past and former associates from his military service during the communist insurgency in Malaysia. The "cinematic" Gold Coast possesses large off-shore oil reserves, and in a chaotic finale, a military coup is staged to deliver the oil reserves into the hands of an overseas power. No doubt, critics at the time, lacked the vision to see the wit and irony of an Australian state seceding from the rest of the country in pursuit of offshore energy profits and low taxation. The brilliance of the Ellis screenplay and the skepticism of the Barrett character result in some truly memorable lines. While the part, written especially for Barrett, has him as an narrator rather than the protagonist, the resulting film is notable for its understated but pointed humor. e.g. "shadowy military commander: 'this place reminds me of the east coast of Africa' and Barrett's reply: and getting more so every day". Who can forget the Robin Nevin/Ray Barret duet of 'Bye Bye Blackbird'. Other memorable performances come from Lex 'the swine' Marinos, as the proprietor of a bus line specialising in erotic tours for pensioners. The release of this film is limited and obtaining a copy has become a "holy quest". While the film is not widely known, it is a cult classic.
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