Nadia Tass’s debut, with screenplay and photography by her husband David Parker, is a genuinely fresh comedy about the unlikely friendship between a reclusive orphan, Malcolm (Colin Friels, brilliant), and clever criminal Frank (John Hargreaves). Malcolm, who has lived alone since the death of his mother, avoids human and even animal contact. He spends his time making elaborate models – including a home-made tram, or a car that splits into two – that appear to have no practical use until the arrival of Frank who, with his girlfriend Judith (Lindy Davies) in tow, moves in and dreams up a way to use Malcolm’s gadgets for criminal purposes. The robbing of a bank via remote control is a highlight. Lindy Davies is a splendid heroine and the supporting cast includes such stalwarts as Chris Haywood, Charles Tingwell and John Stanton. Inspired by Tass’s brother (“A man with so much warmth and humour”), Friels’ Malcolm is one of the great eccentrics of Australian cinema. The film’s entertainment value ensured its commercial success, belying its modest budget, and it scooped the pool at the AFI Awards that year.
Festival guest: Nadia Tass
From the Collection of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia