True story that created headline news in 1959. A young aboriginal man Max Stuart, was convicted of murder in the light of questionable evidence presented, of nine year old Mary Hattam near Ceduna, on the south coast of Australia. International News Media Baron, Rupert Murdoch (played by Ben Mendelsohn), then publisher of the Adelaide "News," became the driving force behind securing a re-trial for Stuart. Written by
Noel Bailey <email@example.com>
As a former resident of Adelaide, I can recall the actual events portrayed in the film (and knew the film's director at university - Adelaide is like that .... a very small place).
It is a restrained and accurate rendition of the sorry episode. Notable in that it captures the atmosphere of the old 'colonial' Adelaide I knew ..... the 'precious' social 'pecking order', smotheringly conservative (repressed?), 'stiff upper lip' ... and the smugness of being the only 'free colony' in Australia (with the imported English social structure this brought with it).
The crafty and cynical state Premier, managing the political fallout, the ambitious newspaper publisher, just starting out on his quest which will lead him eventually to world media 'mega-stardom', who uses the case to build his paper. The honest (and suffering, 'doomed') defence attorney..... and worldly-wise assistant, the innocent(?) accused, the bungling and prejudiced police, the aristocratic crown prosecutor ..... the naive (and sadly too honest) newspaper editor (a survivor of 5 years in the infamous WW2 Changi concentration camp) whose career is ruined when he is 'cut free' by his publisher under the political heat generated by the case and the paper's crusade (initially supported by the publisher who subsequently caves in to the politicians). A great recipe for a political-legal drama.
The tale is well handled by director Lahiff, well paced, understated, cautious ..... but leaving the viewer convinced that 'something stinks in the state of SA'. A lesson on the realities of politics and the exercise of power .....
Well done Craig! Your film deserves more attention than it has received.... (I am waiting its release on DVD so I can add it to my collection, along with the also under-rated and potential 'cult' film, 'Heavens Burning' filmed with Russell Crowe, on the cusp of his meteoric rise to super-stardom.)
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