BLUE MURDER: DVD
In 1980s NSW, Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson (Richard Roxburgh) is headed for the top. He has received more citations and made more arrests than any other officer on the force. To earn a reputation like that, you have to have your contacts on the inside. Sometimes, even cross the line. That's when the distinction between cop and criminal can blur. Neddy Smith (Tony Martin), one of Australia's most notorious criminals, finds himself keeping company with the elite members of the police force. Overnight, a two-bit crim with a cruel streak becomes the kingpin of a crime and drugs syndicate. He gets the green light. He is untouchable. Michael Drury (Steve Bastoni) is an honest cop in the wrong place at the wrong time. His mistake is to turn down a bribe - from Roger Rogerson. Drury thinks it will end there ... He is dead wrong.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Based on the true story of corruption and murder in the NWS police force, at the time in the late 70s and into the 80s when Sydney criminal Neddy Smith (Tony Martin) comes into the orbit of highly acclaimed Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson (Richard Roxburgh) and his colleagues - all corrupt.
Originally a three part mini series produced by Penny Chapman and Erroll Sullivan for the ABC, the dramatisation (if that's the right word) was a sensation on its completion - and banned from screens in NSW and the ACT because the real Neddy Smith was facing seven counts of murder and his trial coincided with the program. What should have been a great infotainment package for Australians as a backdrop to the trial was denied to them.
But the work has stood the test of time with its superb production values, outstanding performances and taut direction - all built on an award winning screenplay by Ian David.
And now it can be seen in historical context, with all the extra features packed into this 3-disc box set. I hope it's only my system but the sound is a tad low in the transfer; the image is TV transfer quality, but the content is solid gold. My main gripe with this set is the absence of printed information on the packaging, advising the contents of each of the discs. But once you hit the play button, this story grips with all the muscle of a major drama, filled with flawed yet compelling characters. It was the Underbelly of its time, and remains one of the best dramas ever produced for Australian television.
It's an extraordinary collection of Australia's finest actors, from the inspired Richard Roxburgh in one of his best ever roles as Rogerson, an eerie portrayal, to Tony Martin as Neddy Smith and Steve Bastoni as straight cop Michael Drury, Gary Day, Marcus Graham, Alex Dimitriades, Gary Sweet, Paul Sonkkila, the charismatic Loene Carmen - and the list goes on.
Michael Jenkins and Bill Russo had collaborated on a previous police corruption TV drama, Scales of Justice, a decade earlier, but with many of the same cast. The teamwork strengthened their work, and the result is a collectible box set.
Jenkins and Russo team up to provide a useful commentary on Discs 1 & 2, with another 50 minutes of extras on Disc 3, including my favourite, the feature on editing Blue Murder with Russo, who teaches at AFTRS. He admits he was confronted by the notion of articulating what is editing. He suggest we spend our lives editing - editing things out, thus focusing our attention and making sense of things. This 20 minute masterclass is fascinating for film students and public alike. Buy it or rent it, you won't regret it.
Published April 2, 2009
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BLUE MURDER: DVD (MA)
CAST: Richard Roxburgh, Tony Martin, Steve Bastoni, Gary Sweet, Gary Day, Steve Jacobs, Peter Phelps, Marcus Graham, Alex Dimitriades, Paul Sonkkila, Bill Hunter, John Hargreaves, Ian Bliss, Richard carter, Joy Smithers, Bruce Barry, Joy Smithers, Bogdan Koca, Loene Carmen, Ray Martin, Phillip Hinton, Nicole Pottinger,
PRODUCER: Rod Allan
DIRECTOR: Michael Jenkins
SCRIPT: Ian David
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Martin McGrath
EDITOR: Bill Russo
MUSIC: Peter Best
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Murray Picknett
RUNNING TIME: 198 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3; DD 5.1 + stereo
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by Michael Jenkins and Bill Russo; Blood Brothers - The Making of Blue Murder; Editing Blue Murder; cats biographies; stills; original TV trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Reel
DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2009