American Movies Made by Australians


Peter Weir's film, Witness, was the outstanding success among the American movies made by Australian directors. It won eight Academy Award nominations, and received an award for best screenplay, written by Earl Wallace and William Kelley. Although working with an all-American crew except for his Australian cameraman, John Seale, Weir retained an Australian sense of detachment from American culture, strong enough to realistically show the Amish people, yet sympathetic enough to develop a plausible, tough cop role for Harrison Ford as Philadelphia detective John Book. Witness is a crossover, mixing the elements of a western, a crooked cop story, and a romance, that raises important questions about the role of violence in modern American life.

King David, Iceman, and Plenty

In comparison with the success of Witness, Beresford's American-made King David, with Richard Gere, was a dismal flop. The film's trailer shows Gere's David as the lover of Bathsheba, the slayer of Goliath, a rebel, a fighter, and a king. Beresford brought some of the legendary battle scenes off well, and the romance more awkwardly, but other sequences in the movie, like Gere's semi-nude dancing entry to Jerusalem, verged on the ridiculous.

Schepisi's American film, Iceman( 1984) and, more notably, his 1985 feature, Plenty, with Meryl Streep, were more critically successful, with Plenty doing satisfactory box-office business.

Plenty, in comparison, had many strong features, notably the presence of Meryl Streep as Susan Traherne, an ex-World War II Resistance fighter, and later an English diplomat's wife in the 1950s. Streep had emerged by this time as one of the major postfeminist female stars. Her performances in Julia( 1978), Silkivood( 1983), and Out of Aftica( 1985) made her a 1980s update of the Jane Fonda-feminist image of the 1970s.

Mrs. Soffell

The other Australian-directed American movie that did very well critically, if not so well commercially, was Gillian Armstrong's feature Mrs.Soffell Soffell, featuring Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson. An unlikely love story, Mrs. Soffell ( Diane Keaton) is the wife of Warden Soffell ( Edward Hermann) in Philadelphia in 1901.

Some Other Movies:

The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie
Alvin Purple
American Graffiti
Apocalypse Now
Blazing Saddles
Blue Collar
Breaker Morant
Buffalo Bill and the Indians
Burke and Wills
Careful, He Might Hear You
The Cars That Ate People/Paris
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith
The Coca-Cola Kid
The Color Purple
Coming Home
Conan the Barbarian
The Coolangatta Gold
A Country Practice (TV)
Crocodile Dundee
Cyclone Tracy (TV)
Death of a Soldier
The Deer Hunter
Desperately Seeking Susan
The Devil's Playground
The Don Lane Show (TV)
Don's Party
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
The Empire Strikes Back
Far East
First Blood
For the Term of His Natural Life
Friday the 13th
The Fringe Dwellers
The Getting of Wisdom
The Godfather
Happy Days (TV)
Heaven's Gate
High Noon
It's a Wonderful Life
The Killing Fields
King David
Kramer vs. Kramer
The Last Frontier (TV)
The Last Wave
Laugh In (TV)
Little Big Man
Lonely Hearts
Mad Dog Morgan
Mad Max
Mad Max II/The Road Warrior
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
The Man From Snowy River
Man of Flowers
M*A*S*H* (TV)
The Mosquito Coast
Mrs. Soffell
My Brilliant Career
My Survival as an Aboriginal
The Night, the Prowler
The Odd Angry Shot
On Our Selection
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Night Stand
Phar Lap
Picnic at Hanging Rock
The Pirate Movie
The Plumber
Pretty in Pink
Psycho II
Puberty Blues
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Return of Captain Invincible
The Right Stuff
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Sentimental Bloke
Shock Treatment
Silver City
Skippy (TV)
Smash Palace
Sons of Matthew
Star Trek
Star Wars
Storm Boy
Sunday Too Far Away
Sword of Honor (TV)
Taxi Driver
Tender Mercies
The Thief of Sydney
The Thorn Birds (TV)
They're a Weird Mob
A Town Like Alice (TV)
Top Gun
The Twilight Zone
Wake in Fright
We of the Never Never
Wrong Side of the Road
The Year of Living Dangerously

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