Urban Cinefile
"Of course, it's really not the change of the millenium; that's next year. But everyone is celebrating it this year, so it just shows that what is more powerful is not reality but what appears to be reality "  -Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 1999 on The End of Days
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



It's late 1960s and Aussie SAS corporal Harry (Graham Kennedy) is leading a new company, Patrol 22, on his second tour of duty in Vietnam. The cocky, Fosters drinking band of larrikins include straight-talking boozer Rogers (Bryan Brown), down-to-earth Bung (John Hargreaves), greenhorn Bill (John Jarratt), realist Dawson (Graeme Blundell) and youngster Scott (Ian Gilmour). Possessing an indestructible sense of humour, these lads are ready for anything - even war. But when faced with armed combat in the jungle and the occasional blow from opposing forces, they realise that war is no laughing matter.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Based on William Nagle's acclaimed novel and faithfully adaptated to the screen by Tom Jeffrey in 1979, The Odd Angry Shot is a lively, humorous and heroic rites-of-passage story that follows a band of average Aussie blokes coping with the ups and downs of their tour of duty in Vietnam. They don't know why they're fighting an American war. It examines the mateship and camaraderie of Australian men through the dangers of combat and, playing like an Aussie version of M*A*S*H (also just released on DVD), it takes a typically jocular look at serious issues, with that sarcastic, sardonic, "she'll be right mate" Aussie wit never far away.

When it first screened in Melbourne in 1979, The Odd Angry Shot made an immediate impact. It opened to mixed reviews, and the public did not know what to make of what purported to be a serious war drama starring King of Television and all-round clown Graham Kennedy. More controversially, Sir Charles Court (then Premier of WA) canned a scheduled screening of the film for Prince Charles on his official visit to Perth, citing the film's offensive nudity and language. Now, as this seminal Aussie film comes to DVD, one can't help but wonder about its topical tagline: "The Australian look at an American experience." Very poignant.

Packed with extras, the DVD will surely satisfy fans of nostalgia, Aussie humour and Graham Kennedy. The audio commentary - which starts with a cheery "G'day" greeting - is by producer Sue Milliken, co-producer Tom Jeffrey and actor Graeme Blundell. It's very informative, with all three participants getting a fair go on their respective experience on the movie. Script to Screen is a unique screen-specific feature about two scenes where the script rolls over the screen while simultaneous action plays in the right hand corner to show the transition from script to screen. The scenes are played back to back to show what parts were recycled by production designer Bernard Hides. At the end you can play the scripts or the scenes in full screen. It's a wonderful resource for film buffs or students.

The Dossier has six still-frame parts covering the film's genesis, and while some of it is as cheap as simply showing the cover of the novel and offering titbits about the film's investors, others delve into controversies such as the use of boat people as extras in Vietnamese scenes in exchange for residency. There are stills of archive documents such as billings, maps and notes, newspaper headlines of the day, a picture gallery, and composer Michael Carlos and real Vietnam vet Normie Rowe share the challenges they faced scoring the soundtrack. There are 11 cast and crew biographies, which shows just how insular the Australian film industry is; many stars are also billed for The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith and Don's Party.

Don't forget to check out the trailer. It's a classic, and a tribute to the larrikin spirit exemplified in the film. It goes "Come and see this band of men, cry a little, laugh a lot. See Aussies being Aussies in The Odd Angry Shot." It then ends with the words of one soldier, "God Bless America". Bloody brilliant.

Published May 22, 2003

Email this article



CAST: Graham Kennedy, Bryan Brown, John Hargreaves, John Jarratt, Graeme Blundell, Ian Gilmour and Richard Moir.

DIRECTOR: Tom Jeffrey

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Dolby Digital 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary featuring Sue Milliken, Tom Jeffrey and Graeme Blundell, Script to Screen, Dossier - From Book to Film, Original Theatrical Trailer, Biographies

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 2, 2003

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020