Tag Archives: Bryan Brown

Blood Money and other Australian crime films you’ve probably never heard of

MaloneIf you haven’t heard of the 1980 Australian film Bloody Money, don’t worry, you’d be in good company. Clocking in at just over 62 minutes, it’s an unpolished little gem of a heist film and almost completely unavailable.

John Flaus plays Pete Shields, an aging Sydney criminal who experiences an emotional epiphany after a diamond robbery he’s involved in goes violently wrong and his doctor informs him he’s got terminal cancer.

Shields returns to Melbourne, his hometown, where he has family, a little brother Brian (Aussie icon Bryan Brown), having trouble going straight, and Brian’s wife, Jeannie. There’s a lot of unfinished emotional business between them, including Shields’s affair with Jeannie years ago that may mean he is father of her and Brian’s daughter.

Pete also has unfinished criminal business with a gang run by Mister Curtis (Peter Stratford). To make sure his brother doesn’t fall back into their clutches, Pete takes Curtis’s gang apart man by man then kidnaps the crime boss’s daughter for a $50,000 ransom.

Blood Money has a definite Get Carter vibe, including the ending where Shields, having exchanged the daughter for the cash, is gunned in a remote quarry.

It’s not the greatest local crime film ever made, but Director John Ruane (who went on to do Death in Brunswick) gives it a grainy realism that draws the viewer in.… Read more

The Empty Beach

One local blog I’ve been following for a while now is Permission to Kill, run by my mate, David Foster. Its main focus is all things espionage fiction and film related, but David also covers of on a wide variety of pulp miscellany, including crime fiction and film.

I was particularly pleased to see a recent review on his site of the excellent but little known1985 Australian crime flick, The Empty Beach. Starring Bryan Brown, Ray Barrett, Nick Tate and Belinda Gibbin, The Empty Beach is based on the Peter Corris novel of the same name. David was nice enough to let me re-post his review, which appears below.

Bryan Brown IS Cliff Hardy. It is perfect casting. It’s a shame that this film wasn’t a hit, because I would have loved to see Brown play Hardy again and again. He could be doing it to this day, pumping out a tele-movie each year – and I would be first seated, ready and eager to watch it. But alas, not to be.

For those not familiar with the character of Cliff Hardy, private investigator, he is a creation of Peter Corris and first appeared in the novel The Dying Trade in 1980. Since then he has been releasing Cliff Hardy stories regularly – at least thirty of them – the last I am aware of, is Appeal Denied which was released in 2007.… Read more

Asia hands

In the early-nineties, I lived for several years in Vientiane, the sun bleached, run down capital of one of the more remote countries in Asia, Laos. One of my acquaintances in the small expatriate community was a man who’d fled Australia after being accused of embezzling money from several companies.

He spent most nights drinking with a pack of other Australians and their mostly Lao girlfriends at a bar that circled a large fountain in the city’s centre. Drunk he exhibited an air of menace; otherwise he could be entertaining company. He knew a lot about Laos. Obviously, he also had contacts in government that enabled him to stay despite being wanted back in Australia.

He was the first, but by no means last, person I met in the six years I spent in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand who could be given the title ‘Asia hand’.

The Asia hand has usually been a minor character Western crime films set in Asia, the drunken Westerner propping up the bar in some seedy hotel or proffering false information or documents. Two films that explore in more detail the themes embodied in the persona of the Asia hand are Peter Bogdanovich’s 1979 Saint Jack, based on the Paul Theroux novel of the same name, and the little known 1982 Australian thriller, Far East.… Read more

Money Movers: unearthing a rare Australian noir

MONEYMOVERSLC3There’s a lot of justified hype about the period of Australian film from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties known as “Ozploitation”, when the creation of film funding bodies and the introduction of government tax breaks to encourage investment in the industry saw an explosion of local production.

But there was one genre of movie the Ozploitation period did not do well or often – crime.

One of the few exceptions is Bruce Beresford’s heist movie, Money Movers. Adapted from the novel of the same name by an ex-security officer, like a lot of films from the Ozploitation period, Money Movers completely flopped when it was released in 1979.

Unlike like a lot of the Ozploitation movies that have since gone on to enjoy critical and cult acclaim, Money Movers remains little known or appreciated, despite a dvd version being released in 2004. This is a pity because Money Movers is proof Australia could knock out a noir as gritty and multi-layered as the best of them.

Its hardboiled feel is established in the opening scenes, muster time in the counting house of Darcy’s Security Services. The armoured car drivers exchange jokes and take a last drag on their cigarettes before going on the weekly bank run. Two of them, Brian Jackson (iconic Australian actor Bryan Brown) and his brother, Eric (Terence Donovan), head of security at Darcy’s, pause to observe money being unloaded from a truck with particular interest.… Read more