Urban Cinefile
"Culture drives economies, not the other way around"  -George Miller, on the need for a National Cinematheque
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday February 20, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



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.

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.

There are two separate audio commentaries, the first with director Paul Goldman, producer Emile Sherman and actor Joel Edgerton, and the second with the screenwriters Peter Clifton and Michael Thomas. You can check out two deleted scenes with optional commentary by Goldman and Sherman and watch the trailer. Dennis Hopper explains how scary it was to play Frank Sinatra in a 10 minute behind the scenes feature, in which we also hear from other members of the cast.

Published February 11, 2004

Email this article



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

DIRECTOR: Paul Goldman

SCRIPT: Peter Clifton, Michael Thomas

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 16: 9 format with 5.1 dolby digital audio

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the Scenes; Deleted scenes with optional commentary; trailer; audio commentaries DVD DISTRIBUTOR: DVD RELEASE:

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019