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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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Bernie Bonnelli
... Billy Baker
... Uncle Nono
... Wild Bill Wildman
... Kathleen Smith
... Gordon Baum
... Pinky Schwab
... Tanya Six
... Lee Dockerty
... Matilda
... Duke Parkhurst
... Hood #1
Frank Avianca ... Hood #2
Joe De Fish ... Hood #3
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


Quirky family fun that packs the meanest of punches! See more »


Comedy | Crime | Family | Sport


G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 December 1978 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Boks nu, Matilda  »

Filming Locations:


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Did You Know?


The film was made and released about eight years after its source novel of the same name by Paul Gallico had been first published in 1970. 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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Featured in Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 1 (1996) See more »


Waltzing Matilda
Lyrics by A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson
Music by Christina Macpherson
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User Reviews

Not for kids OR adults!
21 September 2003 | by See all my reviews

American-International cancelled its plans to widely market and release this movie after disasterous test runs - a wise plan, but upon seeing the movie you have to wonder why they even bothered with test runs. I have no idea how the tale of a boxing kangaroo played in the original Paul Gallico novel, but nothing works about it translated into a movie. Kids won't like it - they will be confused half the time with details like sports corruption and boxing rules/regulations, and the other half of the time they'll be finding the events remarkably unfunny and unengaging. Adults will be finding the events remarkably unfunny and unengaging *all* the time!

It's not just the script that's bad. Though the movie had something of a budget, the production looks remarkably cheap and tacky. Obviously, that includes the kangaroo animatronic costume, which looks so phony that even a two year-old will recognize it's a man in a costume. Though there are also things like sets that look like, well, SETS, and dirty and unfocused cinematography.

Nobody behind the scenes seems to have put any heart and passion in the production, and it's no wonder the actors are dragged down with it. Gould (who further killed his career with this movie) does put in some effort despite the fact you can see in his eyes that he knows he's in a stinker, but his broad performance ends up adding to the feeling the movie is mocking the viewer. At least it is a performance; Robert Mitchum doesn't even TRY putting in any effort in his scenes (which were clearly knocked off in a couple of days at most!)

Still, the movie clearly could have been worse. That's because there are signs that the movie was originally LONGER! One example: take the scene where the mobsters are attempting to jump the kangaroo for the first time - one of them utters "This time we'll...." - indicating there was originally another scene earlier when they tried to get the kangaroo. Think about it: somewhere in some vault, there exists a longer version of this movie! Scary!

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