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Festivale Spring 1996
(Reviews Nov. 7, 1996)

Movie Still, Mr Reliable, Festivale Australian movie reviews, Colin Friels

Mr Reliable

Anywhere else in the world they would have shot the shit out of him, but not here - we're going to have a wedding

And what a wedding it is. When Wally Mellish (Colin Friels) and Beryl (Jacqueline McKenzie) move in together he gives the place a little bit of class with a couple of Jaguar hood ornaments stolen from the local car yard.

Commences January 23, 1997

Enter the New South Wales police to save the world from larrikan loafers everywhere. Within minutes in film time, Wally and Beryl's poor house in outer Sydney is the site of one of the great Aussie barbies.

Police in uniform, a '60s SWAT team, a bloke with 200 pounds of sausages, vans of free-love hippies with anti-Vietnam War slogans and assorted Australian families converge on the dirt road where Wally has sworn to be Mr Reliable from now on. And of course there is the gaggle of media types including all three television stations.

And Norm Allen, the police commissioner, on the spot, determined to prevent the kind of publicity the anti-war riots were garnering his force.

Movie Still, Mr Reliable, Festivale Australian film reviews Colin Friels, who played the scheming suited lawyer in Class Action throws his whole body into playing Wally, the awkward, style-less, uneducated ne'er-do-well.

The characters are drawn without too much caricature, but one suspects that this 1968 Australia is an Ocker Delight served up for the international market.

The larrikanism that somehow is reminiscent of that other young country USAmerica is laid on thick enough for the amusement of others, and well-lubricated with CocaCola.

Mr Reliable is based on a true story. How faithfully is a matter of opinion. According to some in the film industry, the film story is more important that the facts, but let's take this film at face value. Wally and Beryl and her two-year-old lived surrounded by police and rubber-necks for 8 days during which they were married (with the police commissioner as best man) and eventually they were freed without charges.

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Pieces of history like this fill the newspapers and television screens and then disappear. We forget them in the rush of the next sensation. But mistakes, they say, must be learned from or they are doomed to be repeated, and this was one glorious stuff-up.

If you can forgive the scripters for writing It's a strange bloody country, then this is a piece of Australian history well worth revisiting.

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Just the facts:

Mr Reliable
Written by:
Don Catchlove, Terry Hayes
Directed by: Nadia Tass
Produced by: Jim McElroy, Terry Hayes, Michael Hamlyn
Director of Photography:
The Players: Colin Friels, Jacqueline McKenzie

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