Australia’s answer to M*A*S*H, director Tom Jeffrey’s popular military comedy (based on author William Nagle’s acclaimed, autobiographical novel) was the first film to address the country’s involvement in the Vietnam war. John Jarratt (Picnic at Hanging Rock) stars as Bill, a 21-year-old recruit with the Australian Special Air Service who arrives for his tour of duty only to find a lot of card playing, bad food and fruitless reconnaissance missions in friendly territory. While waiting around for the “real” war to begin, Bill forms a strong sense of camaraderie with his fellow soldiers, including hard-drinking Rogers (Bryan Brown), pragmatic Dawson (Alvin Purple star Graeme Blundell), easygoing Bung (John Hargreaves) and grizzled, cynical corporal Harry (famed Aussie TV presenter Graham Kennedy). Then the first enemy shots ring out, and the men’s training and ability to cope is put to the test. A controversial film upon its release, accused by some pundits of failing to take a strong enough political stance, The Odd Angry Shot is by nature not a political film but rather an acutely observed, powerfully acted portrait of men in the combat zone.
Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Kodak/Atlab Collection.