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Monday, May 1

Directed by Ted Kotcheff

(1971) “What’s the matter with him? He’d rather talk to a woman than drink?” Just a one-night stopover in “The Yabba” for Peter O’Toole look-alike Gary Bond, between the (literally) two-house town where he’s stuck teaching, and the flight to Sydney and his girlfriend during the Christmas break. But as local cop Chips Rafferty (the Australian character star in his final role) leads him to the local hard-boozing rituals and the delights of gambling on the “two-up,” the nightmare begins, with sex interrupted by vomiting and the ministrations of too-friendly alcoholic doc Donald Pleasence (Halloween, The Great Escape, etc., etc.), and topped by a very graphic kangaroo hunt. Long thought to exist in a single inferior print, the original negative was found after a ten-year search in… Pittsburgh — leading to this eye-popping restoration by The National Film and Sound Archives of Australia. Directed by Canadian transplant Ted Kotcheff (otherwise known for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Stallone’s First Blood, and Weekend at Bernie’s!), with Evan Jones’ screenplay based on a novel by Kenneth Cook.  DCP. Approx. 114 min.

Q&A with director Ted Kotcheff (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Stallone’s First Blood, and Weekend at Bernie’s, as well as Executive Producer of Law and Order: SVU), following the screening. Mr. Kotcheff’s new memoir, Director’s Cut:  My Life in Film (written with Josh Young) will be on sale at our concession with a book signing in lobby following event.


– Karina Longworth, The Village Voice

– Martin Scorsese

“A Conradian vision of macho rituals revelations, and depredations. The Outback becomes as much of a self-testing limbo as the indigenous Mars photographed by Nicolas Roeg that same year in Walkabout... Shot with a feverish feeling for heat and madness that’s worthy of Borges, this heady existential scald demolishes colonial myths with a ruthlessness seldom matched in the ensuing Australian New Wave inquiries of Weir, Schepisi, and Beresford.” 
– Fernando F. Croce, Slant

“A probing, uncomfortably intense essay of antipodean bad manners in the heightened tones of a Dadaist fever dream… still packs a mighty thump to the solar plexus almost 40 years after being created.” 
– Julian Shaw, Filmink

“Comradeship among white men in the Australian desert, their boredom, and their erratic senseless destructiveness. They keep acting out adolescent rituals of virility. They guzzle all day and all night; they garland themselves with the pull tabs from the beer cans. They smash things for excitement or brawl, or shoot anything that moves, or run it down with their cars. Their blood sport is boxing with wounded kangaroos and then slitting their throats… The ordeals of a sensitive yet arrogant male schoolteacher who hates the coarse life he’s trapped in… are the focal point, but the butch boomtown atmosphere (without a trace of culture) is vivid and authentic and original. You remember the red eyes of the kangaroo in the glare of the headlights… You come out with a sense of epic horror and the perception that this white master race is retarded.” 
– Pauline Kael


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Q&A with WAKE IN FRIGHT director Ted Kotcheff, moderated by Bruce Goldstein

Recorded Monday, May 1, 2017

Film Forum