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Wake in Fright (1971)

2:02 | Trailer
After a bad gambling bet, a schoolteacher is marooned in a town full of crazy, drunk, violent men who threaten to make him just as crazy, drunk, and violent.


Ted Kotcheff


Evan Jones (screenplay by), Kenneth Cook (based on the novel "Wake in Fright" by)
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Pleasence ... Doc Tydon
Gary Bond ... John Grant
Chips Rafferty ... Jock Crawford
Sylvia Kay ... Janette Hynes
Jack Thompson ... Dick
Peter Whittle Peter Whittle ... Joe
Al Thomas Al Thomas ... Tim Hynes
John Meillon ... Charlie
John Armstrong John Armstrong ... Atkins
Slim DeGrey Slim DeGrey ... Jarvis (as Slim De Grey)
Maggie Dence Maggie Dence ... Receptionist
Norman Erskine Norman Erskine ... Joe the Cook
Owen Moase Owen Moase ... 1st Controller
John Dalleen John Dalleen ... 2nd Controller
Buster Fiddess Buster Fiddess ... Charlie Jones


John Grant, a teacher working in the remote Australian town of Tiboonda, is under a financial bond with his Government job. At the end of term before Christmas holidays, he plans to visit his girlfriend in Sydney. In order to catch a flight to Sydney, he takes a train to the nearby mining town called Bundanyabba (or "The Yabba"), and plans to stay there overnight before moving on further to the airport. But things go grossly out of script as he is engulfed by the Yabba and its disconcerting residents. Written by PipingHotViews

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Have a drink, mate? Have a fight, mate? Have a taste of dust and sweat, mate? There's nothing else out here. See more »


Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The drinking session inside Doc Tydon's shed was filmed in the studio. Crew member Stanley Moore was tasked with finding hundreds of flies which he would feed into the shed through holes in the corrugated iron wall. The flies were supplied by Sydney University science department. See more »


When the vocalist for the band at the RSL club is heard singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", he is not actually singing in the first shot. See more »


[first lines]
John Grant: [checks his watch] Alright, off you go.
[children clamour as they leave the classroom]
Young Girl: Happy Christmas, teacher!
Dave: Happy new year.
John Grant: Thank you, Dave.
Sam: Give my love to your girlfriend in Sydney, sir.
John Grant: I'll do that, Sam, thank you.
Chris: Have a happy holiday, sir.
John Grant: [shakes his hand] And you, Chris. Thank you. Enjoy yourself.
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Crazy Credits

Aside from changing the title to "Outback", all international prints credit Group W Films (the more-recognized American production partner) ahead of NLT Productions. With the restoration of the uncut Australian release, this has been reversed. See more »

Alternate Versions

The international TV version that, until 2009, replaced the uncut Australian version in circulation, runs approximately 101 minutes (97 minutes on most copies due to NTSC to PAL conversion), roughly eight minutes shorter than the original. The changes are as follows:
  • When John awakens the morning after the two-up game, an alternate take of the scene is used: instead of being naked, he is wearing underpants.
  • When Janette is seducing John, the scene fades to black when she nuzzles her head against his groin and cuts to Doc's handstand. In the original, she then unbuttons her dress and kisses John, who drunkenly vomits; disappointed, she wipes his face and leads him back to the house.
  • The entirety of John's conversation with Doc outside his shack is missing.
  • The daytime kangaroo hunt lacks most of the brief scene in which Doc cuts off a kangaroo's testicles, and only shows the shot of Tim handing his knife to Doc before cutting to John's bemused close-up.
  • The night-time kangaroo hunt is severely truncated: only the first two kills are shown, and prior to the sequence in which Tim fights the one-eyed kangaroo, the sequence consists entirely of close-ups of the actors firing at the screen. Similarly, the shot of Tim slashing the kangaroo's throat and a lingering shot of kangaroo carcasses post-carnage are cut.
  • During the bush pub fight, Tim's line "You bastard!" is cut, as is Doc rising from his chair saying "You bloody bastards!"; Doc's further utterances of the phrase in this scene are cross-faded so that only the first vowel is heard.
  • After Doc grabs John by the neck during their post-hunt "tryst", the scene fades to white when the ceiling lamp swings toward the screen and cuts to the following morning, thereby eliminating Doc's suggestive mounting of John (curiously, the part of this scene featured during the montage of John's mental breakdown remain intact).
  • The following have been removed from the montage of John's mental breakdown: Doc spitting beer into Janette's mouth; Doc playfully slapping Janette; John breaking into a run; both shots of Doc having sex with Robyn. John Scott's music is cross-faded over the penultimate crescendo so that the final sting is still synchronized with the reversed shot of the two-up pennies over Doc's eyes, although much of Dick, Tim and the two-up patrons' howling laughter is eliminated as a result.
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Edited into Terror Nullius (2018) See more »


Caro Nome
(from 'Rigoletto') (uncredited)
Written by Giuseppe Verdi
Performed by Amelita Galli-Curci
See more »

User Reviews

Sweet Home Bundanyabba, where the skies are grim.
19 January 2008 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

"Outback" is unlike any other film ever made and quite impossible to categorize. If the movie taught me anything at all, it's that the Aussies can drink seriously hard and loads of it. They even drink till they pass out and then immediately open another can when they come to their senses again. I thought only Belgians did that. You cannot possibly count the amount of beer cans and bottles that are consumed in this film and the most repeated line of text/monologue is without a doubt: "C'mon mate, let's have a drink then". Based on the novel by Kenneth Cook, "Outback" tells the story of a young school teacher visiting the little outback community of Bundanyabba, where the local population is so hospitable and acts so familiar it becomes truly disturbing. They fill their days with drinking, gambling, getting involved in bar fights, drinking again, kangaroo hunting and drinking some more. John initially disapproves their savage habits and looks somewhat down upon the villagers, but slowly and gradually he becomes one of them as he wastes his entire year salary on booze and primitive roulette games. "Outback" is very slow-paced and moody. Sometimes you can literally taste the copious amounts of liquor and experience the heat of the Aussie summer. The noticeable heat, together with the feeling pure geographical isolation truly makes the film disturbing and uncomfortable as hell. "Outback" works effectively as psychological drama but even more as the non-fictional portrait about a society that is largely unknown and unspoken of. The footage of the kangaroo hunting trip is haunting and very, very depressing. I was really relieved when, during the end credits, a message appeared on the screen to state that no real kangaroos were harmed during the production. The film mostly benefices from astonishingly mesmerizing photography, superb music and Ted Kotcheff's solid direction. The versatile and brilliant actor Donald Pleasance is even convincing as an Aussie drunkard and the rest of the relatively unknown cast delivers great performances as well. This is one of them unique movies you only encounter a couple of times in a lifetime, but it's incredibly obscure so if you find a copy treasure it. So mate … shall we have a beer then?

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Frequently Asked Questions

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UK | Australia | USA



Release Date:

9 October 1971 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Outback See more »


Box Office


AUD800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,761, 7 October 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

NLT Productions, Group W See more »
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Technical Specs


| (censored)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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