Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974)

Apparently this film cost half a million dollars; so said Reg Grundy in the 1974 TV doco that accompanies the film on the DVD. I presume that was more than the first Bazza film; at any rate this one looks more expensive purely by virtue of being shot in Panavision. Perhaps the bigger budget extended to affording an actual plot this time round; if the first film is basically just episodes, the second one gives us the unlikely spectacle of Edna Everage being kidnapped by a Transylvanian vampire count who’s mistaken her for Queen Elizabeth in the hopes of boosting tourism to Transylvania. I never said the plot was especially profound, just that it was there. It doesn’t quite sustain its duration, but at least that duration is substantially less than the first film (which really couldn’t stand up to running nearly two hours) and on the whole I actually liked it rather more than Adventures. The aforementioned TV piece offers its own interesting window on the past; I’m particularly fascinated by the way “bastard” and “poofter” were apparently OK for TV broadcast but “piss” had to be bleeped. Similarly, it’s kind of remarkable how poor the film looks in the various excerpts of it included in the doco, apart from the colour obviously being rendered in monochrome, the pan-&-scanning of the widescreen image is often bloody awful. Not that it was really meant as a promotional puff piece, but even so. And where was Bruce Beresford? You’d think the director might’ve had something to say about his work… Needless to say, for auteurist trainspotters this film gives even less indication than Adventures that Beresford would go on to make Driving Miss Daisy fifteen years later, but then again, to what extent was Beresford the “auteur” of these films anyway? As a final thought, is it not at least a bit absurd that this took nearly 30 years for a home video release here, at a time when the original film had yet to be locally released on DVD but was available in the UK?

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