The Picture Show Man (1977)

The Australian New Wave, launched with an influx of government money in 1971, was having trouble making inroads internationally until stars like Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Roberts started going Down Under to make films. In this case, it took an Australian actor who had made it big in Hollywood to generate international sales. Rod Taylor, star of such favorites as The Time Machine (1960) and The Birds (1963), returned to Australian films for the first time in 22 years for this gentle comic tale of a traveling film exhibitor at the end of the silent era. He took a pay cut to play the supporting role of a rival showman just to help his native land’s film industry out. After seeing documentary director Joan Long promoting a film on the early days of Australian movies, writer E. Lyle Penn sent her the rough draft of Penn’s Pictures on Tour, his memoir of traveling through New South Wales with his showman father. Long agreed to produce a film based on the work and write the screenplay, then spent four years raising the money. Finally, the New South Wales government provided funding, the first time they had financed a film in 36 years. Long shot in the actual locations mentioned in Penn’s memoir, with director John Power capturing the beautiful Australian countryside just as spring was starting.

(d. John Power, 99m, 35mm)