MILESAGO - Film
THE GREAT McCARTHY
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Richard Brennan
Soundtrack: CAM, 1975
The basic plot of this rarely-seen feature is remarkably similar to two other
well-known Australian football-based comedies of the period -- Alan Hopgood's
And The Big Men Fly and
David Williamson's The Club. Based on Barry Oakley's popular 1970 novel,
which has been in print for over 25 years and sold more than 75,000 copies, it's
a spoof of Australia's obsession with sport, and the conflict between the
corporate, amoral city and the virtuous if slightly slow-witted country. Like
the heroes of the Hopgood and Williamson stories (both of which originated as
plays) McCarthy (Jarrat) is a simple country lad with tremendous football
talent. He is pursued by a troupe of rapacious and exploitative first-grade VFL
clubs, to the dismay of the townsfolk with whom he grew up. McCarthy is abducted
and brought to Melbourne to play for a team run by Colonel Ball-Miller
(Humphries) who also puts McCarthy to work in his insurance company, but the
young footballer finds more to life after he embarks on a series of affairs with
a secretary, a night-school teacher, and the colonel's daughter.
The film had its genesis in a 1973 grant by by the Film & Television Board of the Australian Council for the Arts. $3800 was granted to David Baker to develop a script from Oakley's novel. The grant was part of a group of grants totalling $102,660 awarded to film and television artists and announced on 7 December 1973.
The Great McCarthy won two AFI Awards in the 1974/75 period: Best Supporting Actor (Barry Humphries) and Best Original Music Score (Bruce Smeaton) an award which was shared with Smeaton's score for Peter Weir's The Cars That Ate Paris. Despite an all-star Aussie cast that featured many of the leading actors of the period, it was not well received at the time, possibly because of the critical backlash against the so-called "Ocker" genre, and it has rarely been screened since.
"...a lamentable failure." (David Stratton, 1980).
"...confounded many critics..." (Pike & Cooper 1980)
|REFERENCES / LINKS|
TV Guide Online
The Whitlam Institute