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.