9 user 5 critic

Matilda (1978)

A small-time talent agent discovers an amazing boxing kangaroo and figures to use it as his stepping-stone into the big time.


Daniel Mann


Timothy Galfas, Paul Gallico (book) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Elliott Gould ... Bernie Bonnelli
Clive Revill ... Billy Baker
Harry Guardino ... Uncle Nono
Roy Clark ... Wild Bill Wildman
Karen Carlson ... Kathleen Smith
Art Metrano ... Gordon Baum
Lionel Stander ... Pinky Schwab
Roberta Collins ... Tanya Six
Larry Pennell ... Lee Dockerty
Gary Morgan ... Matilda
Robert Mitchum ... Duke Parkhurst
Lenny Montana ... Hood #1
Frank Avianca Frank Avianca ... Hood #2
Joe De Fish Joe De Fish ... Hood #3
Pat Henry Pat Henry ... Hood #4


A former English boxing champion, Billy Baker, arrives in America with a kangaroo with an unusual talent for boxing. Needing to support himself, he reluctantly joins up with a small time talent agent featuring the kangaroo, Matilda (who's a male kangaroo despite the feminine name) as a carnival act. But when the world heavyweight boxing champion, Lee Dockerty, offers to take Matilda on at the carnival to impress a girlfriend, and Matilda KO's Dockerty into the middle of next week with a single punch, Billy and his marsupial friend are catapulted into the big time, with Matilda now headlining main boxing events, and soon ready to challenge Dockerty for his championship title. This attracts the notice of a mob boss who wants control of Matilda and his growing fame and fortune, and an activist determined to see Billy and Bernie stopped for promoting cruelty to animals. It will take all of Bernie's wits, Billy's wisdom, and Matilda's punching speed and power to get themselves all through ... Written by looker1010az

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Knockout Comedy Of The Year! See more »


Comedy | Crime | Family | Sport


G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The professions of the leading human characters emphasized on the movie's main movie poster in photo puff-boxes were "The Gangster", "The Promoter", "The Sportswriter" and "The Commissioner". See more »


When Bernie confronts Kathleen outside her apartment, one dog (the bloodhound) follows her up the steps when she goes back inside. In the next shot, it is back down at the bottom of the steps with Bernie. See more »


[regarding Bernie taking baby kangaroo 'Junior' to the gym]
Kathleen Smith: Bernie, it's inhuman to do that to a baby kangaroo! It's inhuman!
Bernie Bonnelli: Has anyone ever told you that you're always repeating yourself? This is no ordinary kangaroo... Junior's different. Remember who his father was.
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Waltzing Matilda
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson
Music by Christina Macpherson
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User Reviews

No enchantment
16 December 2018 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The main problem as I see with Matilda is that there is no sense of enchantment in what is clearly a most improbable tale. The film would have to be handled that way for any chance of success.

Matilda is a tale written in the 30s by Paul Gallico updated for the current 70s times. In it Clive Revill who is the only one in the cast to sense that this should be a fantasy in his performance tells the tale of how he came to America from Great Britain with a trained boxing kangaroo. The beast has a punch like Dempsey and no one can stand up to him.

Elliott Gould who sees possibilities here as an animal act agrees to be their agent. One night the real heavyweight champion who's had a few steps in the ring. Larry Pennell gets nailed and goes down for the count. The act is made.

It's also not pleasing to mobster Harry Guardino who controls Pennell. The best scenes in the film are some of his inept hitmen trying to carry out a contract on a kangaroo. Things are most pleasing to sportswriter Robert Mitchum who wants to take Guardino down.

In Lee Server's book on Robert Mitchum, actor/stuntman Gary Morgan who got into the kangaroo suit to play Matilda said that the producers actually tried to convince critics this was a real kangaroo. The littlest kid out there could see that wasn't the case and they roasted the film.

It sure didn't help trying to put over a lie like that. But there's more to it. I think that it might have worked with some special effects and an animated Matilda. Even with that though Matilda still would have had a long way to go to succeed as fantasy.

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Release Date:

5 October 1978 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Boks nu, Matilda See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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