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Submitted by Roger Mellor
They're A Weird Mob
Australia / Great Britain, 1966
Monthly Film Bulletin, November 1966
The crew & cast list was included with the review but it's easier to see it at the IMDb
Arriving in Australia to work as a sports editor on an Italian language newspaper run by his cousin Leonardo, Nino Culotta is shocked to find the office closed down. Kay Kelly, daughter of the owner of the building angrily tells him that Leonardo has left for Canada owing more than £1,000; [Quite a lot in 1966] She makes it quite clear that she has no use for dagoes, and that she intends to set her solicitors on Nino as part-owner of the paper. Almost penniless, and unable to work as a journalist because his English is poor, Nino leaves his hotel to squat in the deserted newspaper office, and takes on a job as a builder's labourer. The work is hard but he gets on well with his new mates, Joe, Pat and Dennis; and out of his first earnings he insists on giving Kay - who is uncertain whether to be angry or touched - 10/- as rent for sleeping in the office, and £1 10s. as a first instalment in paying off Leonardo's debt. Happy in his work with his new friends, he finds lodging with Joe and his wife, and continues to send money to Kay. Gradually, although their meetings are infrequent and rather strained, they realise that they are falling in love. With his savings, Nino buys a plot of land on which he intends to build a house, and proposes to Kay. She accepts, he overcomes her father's prejudices, and they look forward to a happy future.
Behind the rugged exterior and grating speech of the average Australian, there lies a heart of gold: or so would seem to be the cosy message of this rather patronising tale of how an immigrant makes good in barbarous Sydney (by marrying the boss's daughter - how else?). Michael Powell seems ill-at-ease during the chummily extrovert opening, with its repeated assurances that Australia is a big, big country and its endless jokes about a foreigner's difficulty in understanding the slang; but after that the film stops trying so hard to be jolly, and the quieter sequences in which the Italian learns to live his new life are moderately effective. Nothing, though, can fully conceal the fact that this is just a routine women's magazine romance in a new setting; and the acting is mostly indifferent.
Rating II (average)
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