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Australia 1973
Directed by
Tim Burstall
97 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Alvin Purple

Tim Burstall's film, along with The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie, which was released the previous year, is credited with re-establishing the Australian film industry in the 1970s. It did so financially and technically (camera assistant John Seale would win an Oscar for The English Patient in 1996) rather than qualitatively, the common man finding much revelry in its parade of boobs and bums (the makers managing to get every actress bar Penne Hackforth-Jone to remove their kit) as he followed the sexual escapades of Alvin (Graeme Blundell), the inexplicable chick magnet.

The critics understandably lambasted the film as pandering to the lowest common denominator and Blundell never managed to shake off his association with the film. It is, however, not as bad as one might presume and although the writer, Alan Hopgood, was not entirely happy with the finished product, the film, albeit froth, is quite a few rungs above Benny Hill type prurience, with a coherent storyline and a likeable central character (it is also a must-see for fans of 70s fashion).

Commentators have raised the hypothesis that if Australia had continued to make these kind of crowd-pleasers, instead of moving into the government-funded high art territory of films such as Picnic At Hanging Rock we might have built ourselves an independently viable film industry. The film’s sequel, Alvin Rides Again (1974) tends to throw that suggestion into serious doubt.




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