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NIGHT WE CALLED IT A DAY, THE

SYNOPSIS:
A young 1970s Australian rock promoter, Rod Blue (Joel Edgerton) works hard to secure the act of his so far so-so career: Frank Sinatra (Dennis Hopper) is coming to Australia and will set him up with kudos and cash. But when Sinatra’s private plane lands in Sydney with ol’ blue eyes and his girlfriend Barbara Marx (Melanie Griffith), the waiting press manage to provoke an outburst in which he insults the media, which triggers a union black ban on the Sinatra entourage. Rod’s blues have just begun, as he and his new assistant – and possibly new girlfriend – Audrey (Rose Byrne) do everything they can to resolve the crisis, even persuading the national leader of the union movement, Bob Hawke (David Field) to help negotiate a solution
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Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A clever script blending fact with fiction engages our interest – and our nostalgia for the mid 70s, when the real incident on which this tale is based took place. The oddly familiar, like a Bob Hawke-alike David Field, or the exterior of the Boulevarde Hotel where Sinatra and Co were holed up, add touches of recognition for Australian audiences, and while Dennis Hopper can’t quite morph into Sinatra (who can?) – except for the terrific hairpiece, which is perfect – Tom Burlinson’s vocal mimicry is excellent enough for all audiences to buy the singing bits. But what Hopper does do is play a character who we can imagine is very much like Sinatra was, a unique mixture of hardball and soft heart, with all the swagger that his enormous success generated in and around him. It’s a well-balanced characterisation without caricature, without meanness but without idolatry, either. It also plays to the film’s firm tone: although firmly a comedy by genre, The Night We Called It A Day avoids the most common trap for Australian comedies - playing it too much for laughs. There is still an element of that, but not so you’d be put off. The emerging Australian self-image is neatly captured, further feeding (domestic) audience appreciation. Edgerton is edgy enough as the brash young promoter, his comedic sense is as good as his already proven capacity for strong drama. Peppered with wry observations and bits of business, the film has a light touch even at its heaviest going, and the developing romance between Rod and Audrey (Rose Byrne is sweet) is credible and enjoyable. Melanie Griffith and Portia De Rossi are solid as supports with key character roles, and the only thing missing is the occasional cameo from some of the real Sydneysiders of the time and the scene who are still very much around, like the Boulevard’s PR of the day, the Corvette driving John Pond and entertainer Norm Erskine, among others. The film doesn’t takes itself too seriously, and has the endearing, good natured, good time mood which fits the era of its setting. 

Review by Louise Keller:
The Night We Called It A Day is just a splendid yarn. It's funny on all kinds of levels and in terms of entertainment value, it really doesn’t matter how much of it is true. Peter Clifton (The Song Remains the Same) and Michael Thomas (The Hunger, Scandal) have written a script that simply sings and director Paul Goldman comes straight from a battle on the football field in Australian Rules to a centre stage battle of wits and egos. Back we go to the 70s in a ride that's lovingly full of nostalgia, and the characters - both real and fictional - merge together happily just like the Os and the Ls in Woolloomoolloo. While we know that Joel Edgerton's Rod Blue would-be promoter is totally fictional, we empathise with this pretty boy who relies on his mouth to talk his way out of his everyday scrapes. A charming operator with a good heart and a bad haircut, Blue has an appealing naivety and Edgerton fits the bill superbly, with just the right mix of street smart and innocence. Australian flower Rose Byrne again shows what a talent she is - not by doing very much - her role as Audrey is hardly demanding. Yet she has an appealing stillness that makes us want to keep watching her, irrespective of what she is doing. The masterstroke comes with the casting of Dennis Hopper and Melanie Griffith, who both add the necessary gravitas to the roles, while injecting their own styles. Of course, Hopper is not Sinatra, but he gives the illusion of being Sinatra, and lip-synching to Tom Burlinson's excellent and convincing Sinatra covers ('One More For the Road' to 'That's Life') completes the illusion. (Hopper reportedly was nervous about lip-synching and took tuition from vocal coach Gary Catona who actually toured with Sinatra in 92/93.) Griffith makes a lot out of the Barbara Marx role, with an almost child-like demeanour, which contrasts her glamorous appearance. But the piece de resistance is the sharp casting of David Field as Bob Hawke of the 70s, complete with out-of-control curls, oversize glasses, paisley shirts, loud jackets and a healthy appetite for booze. Field has the Hawke mannerisms down to a tee and triggers many chuckles. The best thing about it is that it's not overdone. How could we forget that moment when David Hemmings' Mickey Rudin drops his dacks in Hawke's champagne swilling face, while Nicholas Hope's ever-patient assistant Phil casually stabs a needle in his bare behind. Watch out for a cameo by pop icon Marcia Hines, who plays Rudin's manicurist. This is a story of a scandal, a behind-the-scenes look at an icon, a rags-to-riches story and a love story - or two, to be precise. And there's an unexpected emotional bonus as Sinatra sings 'All the Way'. Yes, indeed, the filmmakers have gone all the way to create terrific entertainment.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

CUTE FILM; PITY ABOUT THE FACTS

NIGHT WE CALLED IT A DAY, THE (M)
(Aus/UK)

CAST: Dennis Hopper, Melanie Griffith, Portia De Rossi, Joel Edgerton, Rose Byrne, David Hemmings, (voice of Tom Burlinson as Frank Sinatra)

VOICES:

PRODUCER: Emile Sherman, Nik Powell, Peter Clifton

DIRECTOR: Paul Goldman

SCRIPT: Peter Clifton, Michael Thomas

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Danny Ruhlmann ACS

EDITOR: Stephen Evans

MUSIC: Rupert Gregson-Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Philips

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 14, 2003







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