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  Stork Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Man
Year: 1971
Director: Tim Burstall
Stars: Bruce Spence, Graeme Blundell, Sean McEuan, Helmut Bakaitis, Jacki Weaver, Larry Stevens, Nanette Goode, Dennis Miller, Brian Moll, Michael Duffield, David Bilcock, Robin Cropping, Alan Finney, George Whaley, Lynn Flanagan, Peter Cummins, Brendan Cassidy
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Graham Wallace (Bruce Spence), known as Stork to his friends, has a job at General Motors working alongside pal Westy (Graeme Blundell), but one day they are deep in discussion when he grows incensed about the pressure put on him to conform. This he sees as a violation of his right to free expression, and if he wants to grow his hair long why shouldn't he be allowed to? In fact, why does he need to wear this stifling suit and tie? Why doesn't he just take them off right then and there in the office? Well, one reason is because he'll get sacked, and so it is Stork finds himself without a job...

So maybe he can find himself in other ways? Spiritually, politically, sexually? This was the dilemma facing our hero in the first of Australia's New Wave, comedy division; although it might not look like much now, Stork was groundbreaking in the country's film industry and paved the way for the fast arriving collection of coarse comedies, lurid thrillers and horrors, and other such productions to be gathered under the so-called Ozploitation banner. Obviously, the New Wave would prefer to be caught up in the works of Peter Weir or Gillian Armstrong and the like, but works such as this were just as important.

The seeds of this were sown in theatre, as playwright David Williamson adapted his stage play and director Tim Burstall took most of the actors and crew he had worked with there to shoot this tiny budget comedy which they believed had something to say about Australian culture, somewhat like their main character did though with a larger degree of self-awareness. The towering, gangly Spence, who became an invaluable addition to many an Australian production from then on, was ideal as the aspiring intellectual who is undercut by his tendency to revert to his basically uncouth nature, and for all his claims to be embracing revolutionary thought he really wants to get laid and drink beer, not necessarily in that order.

The film placed fantasy sequences which may or may not be what was going through Stork's mind throughout: for example, someone mentions he could go to Antarctica in a research expedition and we see him freezing in a tent with the food running out, whereupon he announces he going outside and may be some time, Captain Oates-style, and is praised for his sacrifice until he points out he's just going to use the toilet with a phrase rarely heard in polite society, then or now. When faced with a modern art show, we see Stork's idea of achieving the same thing with what he calls "chunderscapes", summing up the film's attitude to pretension and getting a vomit joke or two in there into the bargain.

With a predominance of Aussie slang throughout, Stork was undoubtedly going to mean most to the denizens of that land, and even then once you got over the insistence on a lack of refinement to the film it wasn't exactly hilarious, no matter how well Spence nailed his role. Another performer who got it right was Jacki Weaver as Anna, the sole female presence in the house Stork ends up staying in with three other men; Anna is, shall we say, rather taken with the free love concept making headlines around the world at the time, and is generous with her sexual favours. Although she seems like some fantasy figure dreamt up by Williamson, Weaver managed to make her believable, and when she finally assists Stork in losing his virginity it's quite a sweet moment amongst all that brashness. Also worth watching was Blundell, who Burstall cast in his even bigger success Alvin Purple soon after; this film had something to say about society, but what it ushered in was far more interested in having a good time. Music by Han Poulsen (skiffle!).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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