MED231 Australian Cinema- Critical Review and Bibliography
By Ayesha Waters

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972)

 

Adventures Of Barry Mckenzie, The - Peter Cook, Spike Milligan, Dame Edna? 1972

CREW:
Director:                                 Bruce Beresford
Writing Credits:                    Barry Crocker and Barry Humphries
Cinematographer:                Donald McAlpine
Producer:                               Phillip Adams
Assistant Producer:              Sydney Rose
Production Management:    Richard Brennan
Production Design:               John Stoddart
Production Assistant:           Anthony Wallis and Dick Bentley
Original Music:                     Peter Best
Film Editing:                         John Scott
Assistant Editor:                   Chris Lofve`n
Casting:                                 John D. Collins
Costume Design:                   Jane Hamilton and Gerry Nixon

 

CAST:
Barry Crocker-                      Barry McKenzie
Margo Lloyd-                        Mrs. McKenzie
Barry Humphries-                Aunt Edna Evergae/ Hoot/ Dr DeLamphrey
Dennis Price-                                     Mr. Gort
Avice Landome-                    Mrs. Gort
Jenny Tomasin-                    Sarah Gort
Spike Milligan-                      Landlord
Peter Cook-                            Domonic
Paul Bertram-                        Curly
Mary Ann Severne-              Lesley
Dick Bentley-                         Detective
Julie Covington-                    Blanche
Judith Furse-                         Claude
Christopher Malcolm-          Sean
Maria O’Brien-                      Caroline Thighs
Wilfred Grove-                      Customs Officer
Bernard Spear-                     Cabbie
Joan Bakewell-                      Herself
John Joyce-                            Executive
John Clarke-                                     Expatriate
William Rushton-                 Bloody Pom

 

OTHER FILM INFORMATION:
Tagline:                                  The Shameless Saga of a Young Aussie in Pommyland!
Genre:                                                Feature Film, Comedy
Format:                                  35mm film, colour
Year of Production:              1972
DVD release date:                 28th October 2002
Classification:                        (M) Recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over
Production Company:          Langford Productions Pty. Ltd.
Distributors:                          Australian Video (1986), Columbia Pictures Video (UK)
Running Time:                      113 minutes

 

INTERVIEWS WITH FILMMAKERS:
Director:
Talk Talk Talk
Bruce Beresford, Australian film director
http://www.vivid.ro/vivid72/pages72/talk72.htm

 

Writers:
In Time
Barry Crocker, Writer and Actor
http://www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s734850.htm

 

REVIEWS:
This film was released in 1972 and I found it very difficult to find wholesome reviews for this movie anywhere. Most of the reviews on the Internet lack much detail and are not very informative. Some of the reviews I have chosen are even written by the viewers themselves and not by the critics.

Sandra Hall, The Bulletin (1972) A review written at the time of release of the film. The review was found on the Internet however it was published in The Bulletin magazine.
 http://www.milesago.com/visual/bazza.htm

 

IMDb User comments for The Adventures of Barry McKenzie This is a collection of peoples that have visited this website and submitted their opinions and reviews on the film. This is great as it shows a variety of people that liked and disliked the film and their reasons why.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068173/usercomments

 

The Four Word Review This is a site where people write four words to sum up the movie. Not very informative however you get the general gist of the film.
http://www.fwfr.com/display.asp?ID=2889

 

Most recent reviews Again like IMDb, these reviews are by the general public that are stating their opinion.
http://www.bigpondmovies.com/user/movieDisplay.php?movie_id=14505

 

DETAILS OF THE FILMS ONLINE PRESENCE IN THE WEB LITERATURE

When searching for The Movie The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) I was often greeted with, “Sorry, your search has returned 0 results.” It is not very popular these days and therefore most of its online presence is selling the DVD of the Movie and not information about the production or even a synopsis. As the film was made in 1972 there is no official Website for it either.

The New York Times

http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?id=4011

Nostalgia Central A search that has s brief synopsis of the film and general overview of the crew.
http://www.nostalgiacentral.com/movies/barrymckenzie.htm

 

CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), written by Barry Crocker and Barry Humphries and directed by Barry Beresford, was based on a comic strip “The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie” written by Barry Humphries in the 1960’s. The Comic strip explored the hilarious and sometimes misadventures of an Australian man.

The movie, however, starts with Barry (Barry Crocker) and his Aunt Edna (Barry Humphries) traveling to London as Barry’s father has just died and states in his will that Barry must get a cultural education overseas. The story then explores Barry’s adventures with his friend Curly (Paul Bertram) that involves women, drinking, throwing-up and just stretching the boundaries of what it means to be an Australian. In Barry’s short time in England he gets caught up in a commercial, has strange meetings with Poms, sings on stage and much more.

I chose this film as it was highly recommended by a family member. The DVD was of very poor quality and scenes seemed to skip at times. Although it had its funny moments it still failed to keep me entertained till the end. I am a huge fan of Australian Comedy such as P.J Hogan’s Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and Rob Sitch’s, The Castle (1997) as Australian’s have such a great sense of humour and are happy to take the piss out of themselves. The Adventures of Barry McKenzie had a great start. The airport scene is just fantastic, when Barry lands you hear a pom say, “Great, another plane load of those bleeding convicts on their way.” This then leads to an issue involving Barry not declaring his case full of Fosters beer. In spite of this great start, I found it began to get very repetitive and the story didn’t go anywhere. The constant jokes about going to the toilet and the saying “Don’t come the raw prawn” began to wear thin and lost my interest. I would hate to think that audiences outside of Australia think we are all as obnoxious as Barry McKenzie.

In saying this, the characters were very well developed and represent the classic stereotype of an Australian, which was obviously what Bruce Beresford was trying to achieve. Barry McKenzie and Aunt Edna were very believable characters and great to watch especially their lack of understanding the European culture and offering a gift of dripping (a can of fat) to Mr. and Mrs. Gort.

 

CRITIVAL REVIEW AT TIME OF RELEASE AND THE PRESENT DATE

When the movie was first released it received a great response from viewers. They thought the movie was a hit, fresh and absolutely hilarious. However these days it does not receive such rave reviews by all. Watching it today can possibly make Australians ashamed that it was ever made as it makes us look like speak before you think, dirty, drunken idiots. On the other hand though its political incorrectness is okay for a laugh but it isn’t up there with some other the other Australian films that have been made. I think if you saw it when it was released then you understand the humour and the meaning of the film and therefore can still enjoy it today. But if you are seeing it for the first time, please make sure your expectations aren’t too high.

 

OTHER WORKS FROM:

Bruce Beresford, Director:   The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) was the first piece that Beresford directed, however he was also a co-writer, producer and actor in this film as well as Barry McKenzie holds his own (1974), the sequel to The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. Beresford also directed Don’s Party (1976), Double Jeopardy (1999) and Evelyn (2002).

Barry Crocker, Scriptwriter/ Actor: Besides The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) Barry doesn’t seem to get many lead roles in Movies. However he has had walk on roles in Television shows such as Heartbreak High, Episode #1.23 (1994), Pizza (2000) and Twisted (2002). He also appears as himself in many television shows including Spicks and Specs, Episode #1.6 (2005) and The Barry Crocker Show (1966).

 

Barry Humphries, Scriptwriter/ Actor: Just like Crocker, Humphries doesn’t partake in many lead roles in movies. Nevertheless has found himself very successful with the character of Dane Edna that he has created. Dane Edna has starred in many television shows such as Rove Live, Episode #5.13 (2004), Ally McBeal (2002), Friday Night Live, Episode #1.10 (1988) and many, many more.

 

 

Donald McAlpine, Cinematographer: Donald has been involved in Cinematography side of many great films including The Man without a Face (1993), Romeo and Juliet (1996), Moulin Rouge (2001), Peter Pan (2003) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005).

Phillip Adams, Producer: Along with the other guys Phillip produced The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Don’s Party (1976). He also went to produce The Getting of Wisdom (1978), Abra Cadabra (1983) this was the last film Adams produced. Adams moved on to acting, but only getting small roles in movies such as The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960) and Dallas Doll (1994).

 

THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE POSITION IN AUSTRALIAN FILM

If you didn’t understand Australian’s before you are definitely going to be more confused after viewing The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972). This film is definitely a classic example of an Australian film, especially through the use of Language. Some people that don’t have much contact with Australia have huge difficulty trying to decipher what we are saying. With the combination of our abrupt accent and strange lingo, it almost seems like our own special code. There are many times in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie where the Poms just stare blankly at Barry as he is talking, as they have no idea what he means.

One of the best scenes is when Barry is forced to go to a Social with Sarah Gort. The scene changes from Aunt Edna talking to Mr. And Mrs. Gort at their house, to Barry and Sarah attending the social, the juxtaposition of England and Australia is fantastically pieced. On one hand the scene is very awkward.
Edna: “What a delightfully, refreshing old English meal it was Mrs. Gort, and how unusual it was to serve it without the toast.”
The Gorts response almost plum in mouth, then it jumps to scenes with how Barry speaks. It is just incredible.

Watching it today it may not seem to be a big hit in Australian Cinema. However, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie was the first Australian film to earn $1 million and therefore kept the Australian industry in entertainment alive.

 

THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY MCKENZIE POSITION IN AUSTRALIAN COMEDY

This is a classic example of an Australian Comedy. It was even considered the best for the genre at the time of release in Australia and the UK. Comedy is usually light hearted drama that makes you laugh. The situations, characters and language in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie are exaggerated to the max, which creates the comedy. Australians are usually stereotyped and in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie this is definitely the case. Barry is your typical Australian character; this is expressed by his speech, “As dry as a dead dingo’s donga.” He says this when referring how thirsty he is. We also see the Australian-ness through his dress, the t-shirt saying POMMY BASTARDS expresses Australian sense of humour and care free attitude.

 

REFERENCES: