7.1/10
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39 user 27 critic

The Sundowners (1960)

Unrated | | Drama, Adventure | 9 December 1960 (USA)
In Australia's Outback during the early twentieth century, the impoverished Carmody family lives a nomadic life out of their wagon, but the mom and son want to settle, while the dad is against it.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Isobel Lennart (screenplay), Jon Cleary (novel)
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Deborah Kerr ... Ida Carmody
Robert Mitchum ... Paddy Carmody
Peter Ustinov ... Rupert Venneker
Glynis Johns ... Mrs. Firth
Dina Merrill ... Jean Halstead
Chips Rafferty ... Quinlan
Michael Anderson Jr. ... Sean Carmody
Lola Brooks Lola Brooks ... Liz Brown
Wylie Watson ... Herb Johnson
John Meillon ... Bluey Brown
Ronald Fraser ... Ocker
Gerry Duggan Gerry Duggan ... Shearer
Leonard Teale Leonard Teale ... Shearer
Peter Carver Peter Carver ... Shearer
Dick Bentley ... Shearer
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Storyline

In the Australian Outback, the Carmody family, Paddy (Robert Mitchum), Ida (Deborah Kerr), and their teenage son Sean (Michael Anderson, Jr.), are sheep drovers, always on the move. Ida and Sean want to settle down and buy a farm. Paddy wants to keep moving. A sheep-shearing contest, the birth of a child, drinking, gambling, and a race horse will all have a part in the final decision. Written by Jeanne Armintrout <jeannee@uwyo.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

AUSTRALIA as seen through the eyes of FRED ZINNEMANN who gave you 'HIGH NOON' 'FROM HERE TO ETERNITY 'THE NUN'S STORY', etc etc ACTUALLY FILMED IN AUSTRALIAN LOCATIONS See more »

Genres:

Drama | Adventure

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros.

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 December 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tres vidas errantes See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eileen Moore was considered for a key role. See more »

Goofs

After Ida and Sean cross the bridge to escape the fire, they look into the flames for Paddy. Through the smoke, you can see a man tending the fire. See more »

Quotes

Ida Carmody: This is a good country for sheep and it's not bad for men, but it's hard on us women. The men come here because of the sheep, and we come here because of the men, and most of us finish up looking like the sheep. Wrinkled faces, knotty hair, and not even much of a mind of our own.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Back Roads: Flinders Ranges, South Australia (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

The Wild Colonial Boy
(uncredited)
Traditional
Quoted in the background score and sung by Paddy Carmody (Robert Mitchum) in the hotel
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A gentle study of a cheerful, loving Australian family whose whole life is one of adventure…
21 May 2007 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

Frequently slow, solemn and simplistic, the films of Fred Zinneman are the work of a director who appears to have equated artistry with neatness, objectivity with aloofness, and significance with decorative, humorless reverence…

"The Sundowners" was perhaps the best 'Australian' film made up to that time, and was, incidentally, a perceptive study of a marriage: Deborah Kerr was the wife who wanted to settle down, and Robert Mitchum the husband who didn't… It reveals much about their life-style and the land in which they live… Their good teenaged son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) explains the meaning of a sundowner as someone whose home is wherever he happens to be when the sun goes down…

So Paddy (Mitchum) and Ida (Kerr) are a warm and well-adjusted couple with one grown son, except for one argument—the struggle between his love of being a wanderer and her fundamental desire for the stability of a home… Paddy was a man who couldn't settle in one place… For him, most places were fit only for arrivals and departures…

The film—which constantly endeavored to show the Australian woman's compassion for the problems of women in a big male society—is also a happy celebration with other notable participants being Glynis Johns as an awfully pleasant barmaid-innkeeper who loves men's company and knows how to deal with them; Peter Ustinov as an educated but slightly mysterious Englishman, a likable drifter, a kind of an elderly turtle who wears a nautical cap, with wealth of experience, but not much of a mind to make use of it…This turtle signs on as a drover with Paddy, apparently not so much for a job but for something to pass the time…

Outstanding is a scene in which Ida, as a woman with no makeup, sitting on the wagon, spots in the window of a stationary train a well-dressed woman who obviously has all the things she doesn't... They look at each other for an instance as the rich woman applies powder to her face… Ida gently lifts her fingers over her cheeks… They stare at each other and we rapidly notice Ida's thoughts…

"The Sundowners" is one of the very best of Mitchum's films… In the pub sequence, he is at his best when he sings "Botany Bay" and "Lime Juice Tub."

Deborah Kerr gave the role both a touch of delicacy and a touch of sensuality… She wins, for her impressive performance, her sixth and last Oscar nomination…

The motion picture, splendidly photographed in Technicolor and with a nice atmospheric music, contains fires in the dry forests, shearing contests, fist-fights, the Aussie's love of beer, a game of two-up, a big race meeting, much of the beautiful Australian landscape and the life on sheep farming stations…


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