– by David Morgan-Brown
One of the very finest Australian films ever made will be part of this month’s Australian Revelation Series and will be given the big screen treatment at The Backlot cinema on Tuesday 28th June. Don’s Party, released in 1976 just when the Australian New Wave was kicking off a resurgence of cinematic greatness from this country, is a simple film revolving around one setting, but is built on the strength of its excellent dialogue and fun acting that convey the dissatisfactions and disappointments of the middle class of the late ‘60s (and how little has changed).
Don (John Hargreaves) is throwing a party for his friends and their partners as the ’69 election goes underway and they anticipate who may be their new leader. However, as the party-goers gradually get drunker, the conversations gradually sway from political talk to more personal matters, including many drunken discussions (or actual practises) about extra-marital affairs and the bitter resentments of the characters’ lives as they angrily question their choice of career and partner.
Seeing and identifying with the woes of adulthood has never been so fun to watch, thanks to the varied cast of characters that includes Graham Kennedy as the sex-crazed, yet recently divorced Mack, Ray Barrett as the academic and stern, yet sex-crazed Mal, Harold Hopkins as the young, hip, unconcerned and confidently sex-crazed Cooley, and Graeme Blundell (playing against his usual sex-crazed type) as the up-tight, unsatisfied Simon who isn’t as interested in sex. There’s also the collective of long-time suffering partners such as Pat Bishop as Jenny who agonises over her aging during this youth-orientated time, and Jeanie Drynan as Don’s wife Kath, who holds her tongue for the most part until the end when she lets loose on not just her husband but his sex-obsessed friends. Fun stuff!
Don’s Party is certainly one of the best films to ever be produced in this country (Revelation Director Richard Sowada says it’s his own personal favourite from Australia) as it’s of the highest calibre of writing (by the consistently fantastic screenwriter David Williamson) and acting from the incredibly talented cast involved. Don’t miss it this month.
Don’s Party will be playing at The Backlot cinema on Tuesday 28 June, with some nibbles and refreshments available from 6:30pm with the screening beginning at 7pm (the feature will be preceded by the WA-made short Living in Vincent*). Buy your tickets here. Check out the trailer below.