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Australia 1980
Directed by
Simon Wincer
95 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Australia does not have a strong tradition of B picture-making but producer Anthony I Ginnnane can claim to have done his best to establish it. Pitched at an international market with tin-pot production values, an exploitative script and often using lesser name actors and with a mish-mash of Anglo-American accents with local identifiers minimized, Harlequin is one of the better examples of his work (its modest budget of $850,000 was not too bad for its day).

A hybridization of the Rasputin legend and the Harold Holt drowning mystery with a generally American-style storyline it has English actor Robert Powell as the latter-day monk, ministering to the needs of "Senator" (David Hemmings, another Brit), a pawn in the evil machinations of behind-the-scenes manipulators who are grooming him for high political office. Bringing in the American component, Broderick Crawford plays the bad guy political boss, whilst Carmen Duncan and Gus Mercurio represent Australia. Some people love this sort of thing for its very tackiness and sensationalism - if you're one of them, you won't be disappointed and can add another star to this film's overall rating.

FYI: Hemmings, no stranger to B-grade, had worked on another Ginnane-produced film Thirst, the previous year.

DVD Extras: Along with the theatrical trailer and a photo gallery there's a useful commentary by Simon Wincer, who refers to the film by one of its alternative titles, Dark Forces (it is also known as The Minister's Magician), and Ginnnane. The latter appears to be in a different room as the sound quality drops off whenever he speaks.




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