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  Ned Kelly Taking The Mick
Year: 1970
Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Mick Jagger, Clarissa Kaye, Mark McManus, Ken Goodlet, Frank Thring, Bruce Barry, Tony Bazell, Allen Bickford, Robert Bruning, Alexander Cann, David Copping, Diane Craig, Gerry Duggan, Geoff Gilmour, Anne Harvey, Serge Lazereff, Alexi Long, Bill Hunter
Genre: Historical, Adventure, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: The End. Of Ned Kelly (Mick Jagger), that is, as he was arrested for the murder of police officers in 19th century Australia, and after meeting with his loved ones for the last time, was taken to the gallows, had the noose looped around his neck, and after a few last words was hanged until dead. But let us go back to the beginning of how Ned got into this state of affairs, when he returned home some time ago after a spell in prison for rustling pigs. He was greeted by his sisters and mother and had the chance to go straight...

But The Man kept keeping him down in this romanticised version of the famous Aussie tale, best recalled for the protagonist's unusual manner of self defence, a suit of armour to deflect the cops' bullets. You don't get to see that till the movie was almost over, so what was there to appreciate until it cropped up? As Jagger himself proclaimed Tony Richardson's film to be "a load of shit", perhaps it's not best to get your hopes up too high, especially as for star fanciers Jagger's presence here went down in bad movie history as one of the most embarrassing ever by a rock star.

Or by anyone, really, as to call it a fatal example of miscasting would not be too far from the truth. Much of the criticism concentrated on Jagger's accent, intended to be Irish as the real life Kelly was, but ending up some odd strangulated Oirish, sounding as if he was making fun of the dialogue rather than sincerely speaking his lines. This could be amusing for about five minutes, but after about half an hour of it you simply wished Jagger had given up the vocal gymnastics as a bad job and used his normal voice, for it became all you could think about whenever he opened his mouth.

It was not the most blessed of productions even from the beginning, as the idea was to place Jagger and his then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull in the lead roles of Ned and his main squeeze, a piece of stunt casting that went horribly wrong when Marianne promptly suffered a drugs overdose just before filming was to begin. So this British production in Australia was already considered a bad proposition even before shooting had commenced, and after it had wrapped, was edited and released, it quickly made Jagger a laughing stock and lowered Richardson's reputation, which had been so high in the sixties, to that of a hack who had got lucky.

Watching this you can see why, as nobody involved, least of all star or director, had a feel for the material, attempting to make an anti-establishment statement of something or other and offering up instead a burbling meander through various encounters with the police, usually violent. Any outlaw glamour was scuppered by the relentlessly grey-hued photography, yielding a dejectedly boring air to what could have been a nice setting for an Australian Western. Of course, the first ever feature film was from Oz, and a recreation of the Ned Kelly story into the bargain, but nearly sixty-five years afterwards this item could have had you believing that cinema had only moved on fitfully since then, such was the ramshackle and simplistic presentation. With the plot turning to mush before you eyes, the sole point of interest to latch onto was that accent, and a musing over how such a charismatic performer onstage could be such a plank of wood here. Folksy music, some of it almost redeeming, by Shel Silverstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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