(1988, Aust, 104 min) Dir Ben Tenzen. Cast Susan Alison, Alan Mann, Jenny Bitz, Doris Cholcos.
Australian comedy inspired by the number of areas that declared independence in Australia through the seventies and eighties. Susan Alison is a city living girl who is unlucky in love with a low paying job when she sees an advertisement in the paper from someone called Wayne the First who claims to be the King of Free Creek. Though she’s never heard of the place she decides to check it out, following the directions on the ad on the appointed day and finds herself on a farmstead in the middle of nowhere with the three other women all there to apply for the job of Queen. Much to their delight Wayne isn’t some backward slob, he’s a handsome, if socially inept, guy played by Alan Mann and soon enough there are four tents in his yard… Of course word gets out and before long the news crews are there and then the busloads of other hopefuls arrive too. A quirky romantic comedy which manages to transcend the potential iffiness of the premise by sheer force of its likability and appealing performances it’s mostly unknown cast.
(1985, US/GB, 105 min) Dir Alastair Hirst. Cast Jessica Lange, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Hugh Grant.
Jessica Lange is the young American widow Ms Allison Fairley, the kind of person who one finds depicted in films as a ‘live wire’ or a ‘free spirit’ but that you, in real life, wouldn’t wish to be trapped in an elevator with. Since she has a lot of money from her late husband’s estate and a lot of free time Ms Fairley has decided to travel to Edwardian England to indulge herself in her latest hobby – the digging up of dinosaur bones. The reason she has her eye on England of all places is because of Sir Evelyn Pearson (Sands), the internationally acknowledged expert on all things paleontological. Of course he wants to have nothing to do with this forthright and crude American but she’s not easily put off – even if it means turning up at every one of Pearson’s digs she’ll get her man in the end. In the end, of course, she does but that’s not really a spoiler, is it? Produced by the estimable Merchant Ivory team though written and directed by TV veteran Alastair Hirst, this slight film seems at times to be trying a little too hard to out-Merchant Ivory the duo themselves. A young Hugh Grant adds value as Pearson’s flabbergasted student who is alternately appalled and besotted by the manic Fairley.