SUMMER CITY: DVD
Four young friends Sandy (John Jarratt), Robbie (Phil Avalon), Boo (Steve Bisley) and Scallop (Mel Gibson) set off for a weekend of sex and surfing and as much fun as they can find in a laid back Australia of the 60s. Their old Chevy stacked with their surf boards, they head for a good surfing beach north of Sydney. Sandy is the odd one out, a straight laced youngster on the eve of his wedding who doesn't really share the surf culture and doesn't understand it. When the womanising Boo seduces a young local girl, her father takes the law into his own hands with tragic results.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A piece of Australian cinema history is preserved digitally on DVD with this release, and while the technical quality of the transfer is average, the archival value is high. Ironically, the technical work of the crew on the film itself is pretty good, especially considering its low budget, including the relatively few surfing scenes.
Mel Gibson's face is used to promote the release, even though his role was pretty small. Steve Bisley and John Jarrat - and even Phil Avalon - have bigger roles. And they're all pretty good, and work hard to overcome the limitations that lack of money and time impose on filmmakers.
Filled with a surprising variety of music, Summer City plays like a weekend away for most of it running time, until the final few minutes of drama. By the way, the DVD slick claims a running time of 83 minutes, which is incorrect. And trivia buffs will also note that the white Chevy on the DVD slick bears no relation to the black Chevrolet in the film.
Phil Avalon's laid back 20 minute retrospective interview is a welcome extra, with his anecdotal style taking a backwards glance at not just the making of the film but the marketing of it, where he pinpoints a story on Mike Willessee's Current Affair show as the catapult that raised awareness of the film - and drove the second week's box office to a record for the old Century cinema (used to be across the road from the Hoyts complex in Geroge Street, Sydney, which was just opening as was Summer City.)
Avalon's sometimes hilarious low budget filmmaking anecdotes are great, and set the film - and its high profile talents - in context. Like the yarn about Mel Gibson and Steve Bisley siphoning petrol from a crashed car to provide fuel to get to location in the borrowed Chevy.
The other thing of note is how little Phil Avalon has changed in almost 30 years; he hasn't stopped surfing, and he looks just like he did then. Maybe there's something in surfing ....
Published April 15, 2004
Email this article
SUMMER CITY: DVD (M)
CAST: Phil Avalon, John Jarrat, Steve Bisley, Mel Gibson, James Elliott, Debbie Forman, Abigail, Ward 'Pally' Austin
PRODUCER: Phil Avalon
DIRECTOR: Christopher Fraser
SCRIPT: Phil Avalon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jerry Marek
EDITOR: David Stiven
MUSIC: Phil Butkis
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jann Harris
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3 (original); Dolby 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Phil Avalon recalls the making of;
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: April 1, 2004