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Australia 1974
Directed by
Peter Benardos
108 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Number 96: The Movie

Cinematic quality is not an issue for this exploitational film made to milk the enormous popularity of the TV series of the same name. There simply is none.

Made in under 2 weeks for $100 000 it follows piecemeal the adventures of the occupants of a block of flats in Sydney's Kings Cross, known to audiences from the nightly half-hour series that was launched in 1972 on what was then the 0/10 Network and is now Channel Ten. Although not attaining the international success of its descendant, Neighbours, the soap was a huge success on the domestic market, with characters that resonated with a local audience and a prurient raciness that suited the temper of the times and that fuelled much of the revival of the Australian film industry in the early 70s (Russell Boyd is credited as a camera operator here). The movie simply regurgitates the televisual format, not that audiences at the time found anything wrong with that. Although dependent on its televisual progenitor and unable to stand alone as film, as a historical document it will appeal to nostalgia buffs, the curious and students of Australian pop culture.

DVD Extras: Umbrella Entertaiment have put together an excellent two-disc collectors edition that includes new 16:9 transfer of the movie restored from available prints; a valuable audio commentary with Elaine Lee who played Vera, screenwriter David Sale and TV historian Andrew Mercado that provides a wealth of information on the film; the original draft screenplay on DVD ROM; And They Said It Wouldn't Last a TV documentary special made in 1976, celebrating 1000 episodes in 1976; a new special, The Final Years, covering the last 218 episodes (and featuring new interviews with Elaine Lee, Sheila Kennelly, Wendy Blacklock, Deborah Gray and David Sale) as well as rare footage of the "Spirit of 96" train journey the cast took when they travelled from Sydney to Melbourne to attend the 1975 Logies.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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