Though less well-known internationally than the other major directors of the Australian New Wave, the late Tim Burstall may have been the most Australian of the bunch (despite having been born in England), making popular comedies and dramas that captured the spirit of the times and drew large local audiences as a result. (See also Petersen.) The first film to emerge from Burstall’s influential Hexagon production company—a joint venture between the filmmaker and the Roadshow distribution enterprise—Alvin Purple is a ribald sex farce whose title character (hilariously well played by Graeme Blundell) discovers from an early age that he has an unusual condition: despite rather ordinary looks, he is irresistible to women from all walks of life, including the psychiatrist (Penne Hackforth-Jones) he goes to see at the suggestion of his girlfriend. Released in the U.S. under the title The Sex Therapist, Alvin Purple was scorned by critics at home and abroad, but shattered the all-time local Australian box-office record previously held by They’re a Weird Mob—a record it continued to hold for the next five years.
Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Kodak/Atlab Collection.