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Australia 1979
Directed by
John Duigan
85 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Based on the smash hit play of the same name by Jack Hibberd that was performed with a good deal of physical vigour and audience participation at Carlton’s Pram Factory, a focal point of counter-cultural activity at the time, Dimboola has been broadened from the single set wedding reception of the theatrical original to the story of the travails of Morrie (Bruce Spence) and Maureen (Natalie Bate) as they essay the institution of Holy Matrimony in their small home town of that name.

Scripted by Hibberd and made on a budget of $350,000, the film is on one level a concatenation of typical Aussie ratbags and oddballs doing typically dim-witted Aussie things, usually whilst chucking back a tinnie and trying to crack onto a sheila. To justify the display of heart-warming barbarisms, a semi-anthropological device is contrived of having a visiting English journalist (Max Gillies) in town to study the quaint ways of the natives, who periodically opines on such via a voice-over.

Although Duigan's Dimboola resembles the Ocker sex comedies like the Alvin Purple and Barry Mackenzie, films that fuelled the revival of the Australian film industry in the early 1970s, coming as it did at the end of the 70s the film was generally viewed as flogging a horse that had run its race and regarded as a significant disappointment given its well-considered theatrical origin. In hindsight and free of cultural cringe, its irreverent exuberance gives the film a certain charm whilst occasionally a satirical light peeks through, lifting it above the more purely exploitational examples of the style.

DVD Extras: Umbrella have put together another very nice package with a widescreen (2.35:1) transfer from a print that does show quite a bit of wear and aging but is nevertheless very accepatable and added  the original theatrical trailer and an informative commentary by Hibberd, associate producer John Timblin and actor Bill Garner who plays Dangles. Of particular value to anyone interested in Australian theatre history is a filmed version of the original play as performed at the Pram Factory in 1973 and an 1994 documentary on the Australian Performing Group with some excellent archival footage.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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