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Anzacs was a 5-part Australian television miniseries set in World War I. The series follows the lives of a group of young Australian men who enlist in the 8th Battalion of the First Australia Imperial Force in 1914. 

The series follows in the wake of Australian New Wave war films such as Breaker Morant (1980), Gallipoli (1981), and precedes The Lighthorseman (1987).

Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and also the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers.

Directed by Pino Amenta, John Dixon and George Miller for Channel Nine with a budget of A$8,196,000 and took 20 week to film.  The series aired on the 27th of October 1985. 

The series starts in Western District of Victoria in 1914. Martin Barrington (Andrew Clarke), the son of a wealthy British-born land-owner Sir Rupert Barrington (Vincent Ball) and his wife Lady Thea Barrington (Ilona Rodgers), returns home early from university studies with plans to move north to the family’s Queensland property in a bid to up the quality of their livestock.

His best friend, stockman Dick Baker (Mark Hembrow), initially agrees to move with him, but later wants to enlist to fight in the Great War which has just begun in Europe, and Martin agrees to follow (after turning down a commission as 2nd lieutenant in his father’s old British rifle regiment), joined by Dick’s sister (and Martin’s childhood sweetheart) Kate, who will become an army nurse.

The two friends enlist and they form part of the 8th Battalion.  Other members of the battalion include quiet and studious Roly Collins (Christopher Cummins), Englishman Bill Harris, cynical, wise-cracking drover Pat Cleary (Paul Hogan) and the Danish-born Johansen brothers Erik (Karl Hansen) and Karl (Tony Cornwill).

The men train in Australia and Egypt, before take part in the Allied invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli on the 25th of April. The platoon experience the harsh and bloody campaign and the appalling conditions, suffering heavy casualties. Both of the Johansen brothers are killed on the first day and Martin is badly wounded that night. 

By 1916 The platoon, reformed with many new faces, arrives in France. Amongst the new members are German-born Wilhelm ‘Kaiser’ Schmidt, unpopular Dinny ‘Dingo’ Gordon, slow-witted ‘Pudden’ Parsons, quiet Lewis-Gunner ‘Bluey’ and cheerful Privates Upton and Morrissey.

Pat Cleary soon proves himself an expert ‘scrounger’ of luxury goods, and he and Madame, a local cafe-owner, run a thriving business built on, amongst other things, stolen liquor originally bound for General Haig.

In London, Australian journalist Keith Murdoch, who had been at Gallipoli, meets with British War Secretary Lloyd George who has a dislike of British Army commander Douglas Haig.

The platoon are sent into a ‘Nursery’ sector of the Western Front to break them into trench warfare. During a raid on the German lines, Morrissey is killed and combat-fatigued Sgt McArthur freezes in terror and Martin leads the mission, even though McArthur is given credit for it.

In July, the platoon take part in the bloody Somme Campaign, attacking the French village of Pozières. The attack breaks down in confusion and Armstrong is hesitant and in-decisive, forcing Martin and Flanagan to assume leadership roles.

Behind the lines, Haig coldly informs Murdoch that the Germans have concentrated all of their reserve artillery on the Pozières sector in an effort to contain the Australians, who are the only ones to reach all of their objectives.

The platoon suffers heavy losses, mostly from shelling. Private Upton is killed trying to warn the platoons relief from a trench which enemy artillery had targeted, and Roly Collins nearly goes insane from shell-shock.

After a long battle, the dazed and traumatized survivors stagger back to the rear. Later that year, the platoon are sent back into the Somme sector, now bogged down in the cold and mud of winter.

Back in Australia, the debate over whether to introduce conscription causes bitter political and social divisions which will resonate for decades to come.

Reverend Lonsdale draws the ire of his parish for daring to question the conscription proposal and the conduct of the war. Pompous Australian politician, “Would to God” Cyril Earnshaw pressures his timid librarian son Max into enlisting.

In one episode, an Australian soldier remarks how much the French countryside reminds him of Daylesford back home in Victoria, Australia. This was an in-joke as some scenes were filmed near Daylesford, including the German counter-attack scene in episode 4.

The surviving veterans reunite in their local town back in Australia for the unveiling of the new war memorial to the fallen. Kate and Flanagan are now a couple and are business partners with the enterprising Cleary providing the capital.

Roly Collins is set to become a journalist working for Sir Keith Murdoch. Harris, Kaiser and Bluey also attend, as does a fragile Armstrong who now resides in a rest home and Max Earnshaw, now permanently blind and in charge of the State Braille Library, while his politician father, “Would to God” Earnshaw, once so in favour of the war was now annoyed at having to attend memorials in his electorate since it did little to further his political career.

At the memorial Reverend Lonsdale reads a moving tribute to the Anzacs, Roly reads the fourth stanza of the Ode of Remembrance, and then Martin’s mother and Dick’s mother lay wreaths at the foot of the memorial. As a bugler plays, the scene dissolves to the green fields of the Somme in the present day.

The series was well noted for its humour and historical accuracy, and was a huge rating success for the Nine Network when it aired.  According to the review by James Anthony: “The battle scenes are terrific and the muddy trenches of the Western Front look acceptably cold and horrible.

Some of the acting goes a bit astray and there is sometimes a bit too much play on larrikinism and ockerness, but overall it sits well as a quality drama with good characters.”

Interesting note many of the extras playing the roles of Allied, American, and German soldiers were serving members of the Australian Army. This was done to keep costs down so that actors did not have to learn how to act as soldiers or to have to teach them how to use the weapons.

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Any Questions for Ben? is a 2012 Australian comedy film created by Working Dog Productions, directed by Rob Sitch. It stars Josh Lawson, Rachael Taylor, Felicity Ward, Daniel Henshall, and Christian Clark. It was written by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, and Rob Sitch.

The plot revolves around a high-flying Melbourne-based brand manager Ben (Josh Lawson) who returns to his old high school to talk to students about careers.

Ben reunites with former students, including international human rights lawyer Alexis (Rachael Taylor), now working with the United Nations in Yemen, and Olympic archery medallist Jim (Ed Kavalee).

Ben soon realises that compared to the other speakers, no one is interested in what a brand manager does, and when questions are asked for, all are directed at the other presenters, while Ben gets none. 

This causes Ben to begin to consider the meaning behind his current lifestyle, and commences a year-long reevaluation of his priorities, looking in all the wrong places, but ultimately involving the gradual pursuit of Alexis as a serious love interest for the first time in his life.

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Angry Boys is a television mockumentary series written and starring Chris Lilley.

Filmed in a similar style to his previous series Summer Heights Hights and We Can Be Heroes. 

In Angry Boys, Lilley plays multiple characters: S.mouse, an American rapper; Jen, a manipulative Japanese mother; Blake Oakfield, a champion surfer; Ruth “Gran” Sims, a guard at a juvenile detention facility; and her teenage grandsons, twins Daniel and Nathan Sims.

The series was a co-production between the Australian ABC and US cable channel HBO, with a pre-sale to BBC Three in the United Kingdom.

Filmed in Victoria, South Australia, Los Angeles and Tokyo, Angry Boys premièred on the 11th of May 2011 at 9:00 pm on ABC1.

More than 3,500 people auditioned for roles, both actors and non-actors from Australia and overseas to find a wide range of looks, attitudes, races and ages for 89 main roles and 1,228 extras. 

Angry Boys was filmed over seven months in more than 70 locations across Australia, Los Angeles and Tokyo. 

The Sims family is the backbone of the series that incorporates Daniel and Nathan’s heroes, including S.mouse and Blake Oakfield, the characters who were inspired by Lilley’s conversations with teens across Australia. “I met with teens in country towns and they had hero worship-like posters of pop culture figures, skaters, surfers and sports people as well as naked girls and that gave me the idea to jump into the premise for the show,” he says.

The premiere episode of Angry Boys achieved an audience of 1,368,000, and was the most popular ABC program for 2011.  The show also aired in Germany, Sweden, U.K., USA, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Czech Republic.

The theme music for the show was written and produced by Lilley. Bryony Marks helped Lilley arrange the music and produced all the incidental music in it.

It was recorded over a number of sessions with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with Lilley on grand piano. Lilley also wrote and produced all the songs for the series, recording them in his home studio. 

Following the the last episode on the 27th of July 2011, the series’ soundtrack was released the next day. It featured seventeen of S.mouse’s songs, as well as the Angry Boys opening theme song, which made number 9 on the ARIA Urban Albums Chart.

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Angel Baby is a 1995 Australian drama film written and directed by Michael Rymer. The film was produced in 1993–94 with a budget of A$3.5 million. 

The film is a love story of two people with schizophrenia.  Although the film did not do well at the box office the film swept the boards at the 1995 AFI Awards winning all the major categories as well as several major international film festivals.

Angel Baby tells the story of Harry (John Lynch) and Kate (Jacqueline McKenzie), who meet at an outpatient clinic in Melbourne for mental patients. 

Harry falls instantly for Kate when he sees her at the clinic, but she doesn’t hang around with psychos, she tells him, but her feelings change when she receives a sign from her guardian angel, named Astral.

His method of communication is the Australian version of “Wheel of Fortune.” As the letters are turned over and the underlying phrases are revealed, Kate takes careful notes; she learns she’s pregnant, for example, when the Australian version of Vanna White turns over letters spelling out “Great Expectations.”

She believes it is Astral who is residing in her womb.  She and Harry decide to move in together, despite the reservations of Harry’s protective brother Morris (Colin Friels) and his wife Louise (Deborra-Lee Furness).

Harry gets a job in a computer firm, they set up house and Kate becomes pregnant and seem for a time to be blessed with each other, and who then make the mistake of growing overconfident and discontinuing their medication, the results are disastrous, with both ending up back in hospital.

Harry re-stabilises himself, then rescues Kate from the mental ward. They hide in a tall building site and wait for their baby – called Astral – to enter the world.

This film is important as shows what it takes to overcome a mental illness and what affects they can have on your life and those around you. 

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All the Rivers Run II is an Crawford Production television 2 part miniseries which aired on Channel Seven on the 18th of March 1990.

Starring John Waters and actress Nikki Coghill who replaced Sigrid Thornton in the leading role.

The miniseries follows on where Nancy Cato 1958 novel, Australian historical finishes. The series was directed by John Power. 

Series II takes up the story of Delie (Nikki Coghill) and Brenton Edwards (John Waters) at the turn of the century, at a moment when bad times have struck the once thriving river boat trade.

New roads and railway lines threaten the very existence of the grand old paddle steamers of the Murray and striking shearers threaten the lives of their crews.

Into the explosive situation walks Cyrus James (Parker Stevenson), a charming, but mysterious overseas entrepreneur. He is immediately attracted to Delie, but backs off when he encounters Brenton.

The three become close to friends. Trying to mediate in the dispute between the shearers and the riverboat skippers, Brenton is framed on a charge of seriously injuring a local businessman Arthur Blackwell (Tim Robertson).

He is sentenced to imprisonment in Melbourne.  Without Brenton, Delie is faced with a custody battle over her children and the not altogether unwanted attentions of Cyrus. 

Alone she must fight to keep her family and the riverboat “Philadelphia”.  In a desperate attempt to help her, Brenton escapes. When trying to reach his children, a waiting policeman, the same man in the employ of the wealthy squatters who framed Brenton in the first place, shoots Brenton. 

Brenton disappears in the murky waters of the swollen River Murray, leaving only a trail of blood behind.  All the Rivers Run II has all the romance, adventure and even more intrigue than its internationally successful predecessor.

The series was shot on location in Echuca as well as locations in Melbourne.  The paddle steamer PS Pevensey was filmed as the PS Philadelphia. 

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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.

visit www.twistedhistory.net.au

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.

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Annie’s Coming Out (also known as A Test of Love) is a 1984 Australian drama film directed by Gil Brealey. It is based on the non-fiction book Annie’s Coming Out by disability activists Rosemary Crossley and Anne McDonald. The book tells the story of McDonald’s early life in a government institution for people with severe disabilities and her subsequent release.

The plot is around Annie O’Farrell (based on Anne McDonald) a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who is unable to communicate and has been living in a government institution from an early age. Jessica Hathaway (based on Rosemary Crossley) is a therapist who learns to communicate with Annie using an alphabet board and comes to believe that although physically disabled, Annie is not intellectually impaired. When Annie turns 18, Jessica begins a legal fight to get her released.

Film rights to the book were bought by Film Australia and Gil Brealey was assigned to direct. It was originally intended that Ann McDonald play herself but she had grown too big by the time she left hospital so 9 year old Tina Arhondis was cast instead. Shooting started in September 1983 and went for four weeks, mostly at the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Melbourne.

Annie’s Coming Out won three 1984 Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Lead Actress (Angela Punch McGregor). It was nominated for four other AFI awards. The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1984 Montréal World Film Festival.  The film was not a large commercial success but it screened in the US as A Test of Love.

A rare photo of Ned Kelly not seen by the public in 138 years has resurfaced

A RARE photo of outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly not seen by the public for 138 years went under the hammer at auction in February 2016. The photo has only previously been seen by a select few when Lawsons auction house sold it in 1988. The photo formerly belonged to descendants of William Turner, the 1878-9 Mayor of Launceston in Tasmania and since its 1988 sale it has been kept in a private Sydney collection. It has now resurfaced and will go under the hammer once again. The photo taken in December 1878 shows a relaxed Ned Kelly, centre, standing with his brother Dan Kelly on the left and gang member Steve Hart on the right. The photo was signed by all three men but the signatures were written by Joe Byrne, a Kelly Gang member, as none of the other men could read or write. Tom Tompson, a publisher and specialist for auction houses, told News Corp Australia the photo was taken in the town of Euroa on the day the Kelly Gang robbed the local bank. This was the Kelly’s first bank robbery and a means to support themselves while in hiding from authorities. Tompson said the photo was taken as an attempt for the men to gain support from sympathisers. “Ned was compiling letters, which Joe Byrne actually wrote for him, and these were put to newspapers who in the main would not publish them because the Victorian police were coming down hard on anything that looked like sympathetic treatment of outlaws,” Tompson said. Tompson said the photo shows the three men deliberately portraying a different image of themselves having gotten rid of their old clothing. “You can see a larrikin streak which is obviously there, they’ve got their new duds (clothes), they’re making their mark and it’s a very likeable shot of the Kellys instead of the dour, dark and troubling ones that exist,” he said. The photo has been pasted on a Tasmanian photographer’s card, then glued to 1920s Kodak paper. The photo has now been published in the new edition of George Wilson Hall’s book The Kelly Gang, Or, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges. Tompson said there is huge historic value to the photo. “The Kellys are very much part of a mythical Australia,” he said. “At the time the Irish were being treated incredibly badly, they weren’t allowed to have schooling or own horses. “They bought out the Irish police to create the Victorian police force to keep a form of class distinction,” he said. The Kelly Gang became a Robin Hood-type myth for a lot of people who were struggling with their life in Australia, he added. Tompson said photos such as this one were traded between sympathisers and photographers for years. Lawsons auction house expects the photo to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000 but Thompson predicts it could go for much more. The photo was taken just over a year before the Kelly Gang’s last stand with police at the siege at Glenrowan where Ned and others wore their homemade metal armour. Ned Kelly was the only one of his gang to survive the siege and was hung at Melbourne Gaol in 1880 where he uttered “such is life” before he was hung.

 

Frank Gardiner, born in 1830 Scotland and shipped out to Australia as a child with his parents, made an illustrious career out of horse thievery and highway robbery. On 15 June 1862, Gardiner along with Ben Hall, John Gilbert and associates held up a gold escort travelling from Forbes to Bathurst. They stole over £14,000 worth of gold and bank notes – Australia’s biggest gold robbery. In February 1864, New South Wales police traced Gardiner to his hideout in Queensland. He was arrested and sentenced to 32 years of hard labour in July. Ten years later, Governor Hercules Robinson granted him mercy and released him, subject to exile. Gardiner lived in Hong Kong and Francisco before dying in Colorado in 1903. “Colonial rule was constantly challenged by bushrangers – it was a major threat to the central administration,” says Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart from the University of Tasmania. “They were turning the tables on the convict state.”

 

On this day …….. 5th of August 1944

The Cowra breakout occurred on 5 August 1944, when at least 1,104 Japanese prisoners of war attempted to escape from a prisoner of war camp near Cowra, in New South Wales, Australia. It was the largest prison escape of World War II, as well as one of the bloodiest. During the ensuing manhunt, 4 Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed. The remaining escapees were captured and imprisoned.

 

The town of Nhulunbuy lies in a remote corner of the Northern Territory and is surrounded by bush land where wild buffaloes roam free. In May 2005 a 46 year old man was killed on the town’s outskirts by a wild buffalo when he went for a walk to check the water supply line to his house. He had his two dogs with him that survived and returned to the house, which alerted his family that something had to be wrong. Unfortunately there was a bush fire in the area at the same time which hindered the search and burned the man’s body before it could be found. Police have started hunting buffaloes as this was far from the first incident, other people had been attacked, although nobody had been killed by buffaloes in the town since April 1993. In September 2007 a 49 year old woman from Melbourne was holidaying at Peppers Seven Spirit Bay resort on the Cobourg Peninsula and while she was enjoying a nice stroll along the beach with a couple of friends a wild buffalo charged them and attacked her. A tour guide that was with her at the time gave her first aid and she was flown to Darwin hospital by helicopter.