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Alvin Rides Again is a 1974 Australia sex-comedy film sequel to Alvin Purple. It was directed by David Bilcock and Robin Copping, who were regular collaborators with Tim Burstall. It was rated M unlike its predecessor which was rated R. Alvin Rides Again still features a lot of full frontal nudity. And like the prequel was written by Alan Hopgood, with a budget of $300,000 Australian dollars. 

The premise of the movie is that Alvin Purple (Graeme Blundell) is unable to hold down a job because of his appeal to women. He and his friend Spike Dooley (Alan Finney) help a team of women cricketers win a match by playing in drag, and decide to spend their share of the prize money in a casino. Alvin discovers he is identical in appearance to gangster Balls McGee. When Alvin Purple, is introduced to his doppelganger, Balls McGee, a gangster from America. The gangster wants to watch his favourite TV show – “Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo”, and sings along to the theme music.

Graeme Blundell plays both roles with surprising panache – all the more surprising considering that the screenwriters contrive to off the Balls McGee character almost immediately so that we can be subjected to some tedious switcheroo gags as police come looking for Balls, find Alvin, Alvin goes to get dressed up as Balls, returns. This is funny by default, apparently.

Supposedly there was less nudity this time around, which makes sense considering the intelligence that apparently went into the making of both films. The only reason anyone saw the original film was for the nudity, so why not include less nudity in this installment? 

There is also a bigger budget, though unless you pay close attention during the more boring moments, you might miss this. The original movie was a big success in Australia, so of course the sequel has to have something to show for it…

The answer is, a pointless car chase at the end of the movie, featuring a car with guns mounted to the side. I don’t know if the driver was ever introduced, or if reasons were ever given for why he wants to kill Alvin, but no matter. The chase scene is as tedious as it is pointless, and it features two explosions – so THAT’s where the money went! – and ends in the surprisingly violent death of an innocent bystander. Yes, this is the sort of comedy where men impersonate women without shaving moustaches and sideburns and yet fool everybody, people run in and out of rooms chasing each other in fast forward while zany music plays, dwarven actors have their voices dubbed to make them sound as high pitched as possible, and forklift operators are violently machine-gunned to death. One of these things is not like the other.

Some comedies are so witless that they approach surrealism. “Alvin Rides Again” doesn’t quite reach that level, for while the violence is bizarre and completely out of place, its presence as an afterthought simply suggests the writers had no idea what to do with the budget they had or the movie they had to make. It is also portrayed so unrealistically that you could miss it pretty easily. There is, after all, perhaps the least painful meat cleaver to the face shot I have ever seen in a movie.

Tim Burstall, Alan Hopgood and Graeme Blundell weren’t particularly interested in making a sequel to Alvin Purple but the film was so successful, Hexagon Productions wanted a follow up. Blundell wanted to avoid being typecast so a story was created which gave him a chance to play a double role. Burstall, who claims he wrote most of the script with Al Finney, says that: When it came to the crunch, Blundell failed to differentiate between paying Balls and playing Alvin pretending to be Balls. In my view, the film fails for precisely that reason, i.e. Alvin is lost.

Alvin Rides Again was the recipient of some more controversy when it was released but was only rated M. It did not perform as well as its predecessor but still grossed $600,000 by the end of 1977 and ended up taking $1,880,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $12,690,000 in 2009 dollars.

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Alvin Purple is an 1973 Australian comedy film written by Alan Hopgood and directed by Tim Burstall for Hexagon Productions at a cost of $202,000 Australian dollars.   Filming and was shot on location in Melbourne over five and a half weeks in March and April of 1973.  

The film is a sex farce which follows the misadventures of a naïve young Melbourne man Alvin Purple, whom women find irresistible. Working in door to door sales, Alvin (unsuccessfully) tries to resist legions of women who want him.

Alvin is so worn-out he seeks psychiatric help to solve his problems. His psychiatrist is, of course, a woman. Alvin ultimately falls in love with the one girl who doesn’t throw herself at him. She becomes a nun, and Alvin ends up a gardener in the convent’s gardens.

Hopgood originally wrote Alvin Purple for the English production company Tigon Films, but they turned it down.  Hopgood’s story was originally half comic, half serious, and Burstall originally envisioned it as a 20-minute section of a multi story picture. However he then decided to make the story strictly comic and expand it to feature length. Burstall says he rewrote much of Hopgood’s script, adding many chases and the water bed sequence, and turning Dr McBurney (George Whaley)

figure into a sex maniac. The original script played more emphasis on the relationship between Alvin (Graeme Blundell) and his virginal girlfriend but this was cut in the final film.

The budget was provided by Hexagon, half from Roadshow, half from Burstall, Bilcock and Copping – apart from a short-term loan from the Australian Film Development Corporation, which was repaid before the film’s release. 

Tim Burstall remembers his choice of cast Graeme Blundell in the lead:

I remember Bourkie [Roadshow executive Graham Burke] saying, ‘You’ve got to cast somebody like Jack Thompson.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not. You’ve got to cast somebody who wouldn’t, on the surface, seem a stud or even particularly attractive’. I actually thought that Alvin wasn’t, that the comic element was connected with having a Woody Allen or a Dustin Hoffman figure who is not very obviously sexually attractive, and the girls rushing him. This becomes much funnier than if he was a stud figure.

The film was released on the 20th of December 1972 and received largely negative reviews from local film critics. Despite this it was a major hit with Australian audiences. Alvin Purple became the most commercially successful Australian film released to that time, breaking the box office record set by Michael Powell’s pioneering Anglo-Australian comedy feature They’re a Weird Mob (1966).  The film made $4,720,000 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $36,721,600 in 2009 dollars. This is 7th highest grossing Australian film of all time when adjusted for inflation.

A 1974 film sequel Alvin Rides Again toned-down the sex scenes and nudity, adding more camp comedy. This was followed by a 1976 ABC comedy television series titled Alvin Purple. Blundell reprised the title role in both, as well as in the 1984 movie Melvin, Son of Alvin.

The score and title theme were composed by iconic Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd.

visit www.twistedhistory.net.au