Saturday, January 26, 2013
This rarely screened madcap comedy was the first of two films made in Australia by the great British director Michael Powell (The Red Shoes, Peeping Tom), here working from a script by his frequent collaborator Emeric Pressburger. Based on a novel by “Nino Culotta” (a pseudonym of the novelist John O’Grady), They’re a Weird Mob casts a satirical light on Australian attitudes towards so-called “New Australians”—in this case, Italian immigrants—as personified by Nino (Bellissima star Walter Chiari), who arrives down under expecting to work for his cousin as a sports reporter for an Italian-language magazine. But as Nino quickly discovers, his cousin his skipped town leaving a trail of debts in his wake, leaving Nino to pick up the pieces, and learn how to talk and act like a “real” Australian in the process. Featuring a veritable cavalcade of Australian actors and entertainers, including the legendary Chips Rafferty (the leading Aussie screen star of the 1940s and ‘50s), stand-up comic Slim DeGrey and future Crocodile Dundee sidekick John Meillon, They’re a Weird Mob broke local box-office records and pointed the way towards the coming new wave.
Print courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Kodak/Atlab Collection.