The Great MacArthy (1975)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Aug-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary-Richard Brennan (Exec. Prod.)& Bruce Smeaton (Composer)
Featurette-On The Bench With The Great Macarthy
Short Film-Squeakers Mate
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Club, Oz - A Rock 'N' Roll Road Movie
Trailer-Picnic At Hanging Rock, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 88:42 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Baker
Stoney Creek Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring John Jarratt
Judy Morris
Kate Fitzpatrick
Sandra McGregor
Barry Humphries
John Frawley
Colin Croft
Chris Haywood
Colin Drake
Ron Fraser
Max Gillies
Dennis Miller
Lou Richards
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Bruce Smeaton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, credits rolling over a long distance shot.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Great Macarthy is based on the popular Australian novel from the early seventies, A Salute To The Great McCarthy, by Barry Oakley. The difference in the spelling of Macarthy between the novel and the film was done deliberately to remove a possible reference people could have inferred to the late US senator, Joe McCarthy .

     The film is distinctly Australian, not only in its subject material, but in the myriad of eccentric but somewhat familiar characters it presents to us.

    The Great Macarthy was made in an era when Australian filmmakers were happy portraying and actually emphasized ockerish characters in their films. These films were never intentionally made for any audience other than that of the Australian filmgoer. The success of films like Tim Burstall's Stork and Bruce Beresford's The Adventures of Barry McKenzie helped set a unique identity that most people would cringe from today.

     The Great Macarthy, however, had something else in its favour - the country's love of Australian Rules Football, although when the film was made, this sport found very little favour in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which favoured the game of Rugby. This factor alone set the film an even bigger task of finding success, even at a national level.

    The director of The Great Macarthy, the late David Baker was a director of excellent reputation, working on television in both Australia and the UK for the BBC. He had also directed The Family Man, which was the best and most confronting of the stories in the 1973 film, Libido. His 1973 very dark short film, Squeaker's Mate is a worthy inclusion on this DVD and shows he was indeed a director of considerable talent, despite having some idiosyncratic behaviours.

    Macarthy (John Jarratt, in his debut film role) is a young star footballer, playing for the small country town of Kyneton. Macarthy is kidnapped by strongmen from the South Melbourne Football Club, using a helicopter in an innovative manner. This surprise operation is organised by club president, Colonel Ball-Miller (Barry Humphries), who also sets Macarthy up with a job in his company. Macarthy soon adapts to his new football club and his new job, under the watchful supervision of devoted company man and boss, Mr Webster (John Frawley).

    Macarthy's life turns into a series of comedic misadventures, a failed office relationship with Vera (Sandra McGregor), then an unlikely, but committed relationship with a night school teacher, Miss Russell (Judy Morris). Throw in a mishap at a Nazi party rally, two broken legs while filming a television commercial and a quick fire marriage to Colonel Ball-Miller's daughter, Andrea (Kate Fitzpatrick) and you get some idea of the chaos in Macarthy's life.

    Of course such chaos has got to have an adverse effect on a footballer's life. Macarthy's football career soon becomes embroiled in the politics and backstabbing of the club. But, little do the club hierarchy know that Macarthy holds the winning hand.

    The Great Macarthy hosts performances from many wonderful Australian actors whom I haven't mentioned in the plot synopsis. These actors all play small, but significant and enjoyable roles in the film. The film also features performances from some Australian sporting celebrities, such as Lou Richards and Jack Dyer.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for The Great Macarthy is reasonably good.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I believe the film's correct aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

    The transfer exhibits a good level of sharpness and clarity throughout. Blacks were clean and clear of low-level noise, although there was some variation in intensity and depth. Shadows were consistent and held good detail.

    Colours displayed some slight fluctuation in a few scenes, but this is almost certainly a print issue rather than one of the transfer. Overall, the colours were pleasantly subtle and consistent with other Australian films of the era. I found no evidence of oversaturation in the transfer.

    There were no MPEG artefacts present. Film-to-video artefacts weren't much of an issue with this transfer and were generally well controlled, although some minor telecine wobble was evident on a couple of occasions. Film artefacts presented as the problem issue with this transfer. These were quite frequent and consisted mainly of small marks and scratches, which were more concentrated around reel changes. Reel change markings were also noticed at regular intervals, but weren't particularly problematic.

   There are no subtitles on this DVD.

   This is a single sided, dual layered disc, with the layer change undetectable throughout the film. Even the use of software did not disclose the location of the change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is not particularly challenging, but is of good quality.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). There is also an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) track.

    Dialogue is easily audible and clear throughout the film. I noticed a couple of slight problems with audio sync early in the film, however these were trivial.

    The musical score by respected Australian composer Bruce Smeaton is at his usually high standard. His music for The Great Macarthy combines many different styles over the course of the film. His title theme music is described by Bruce himself as a fusion of Nino RotaScott Joplin, Pinetop Smith and himself. In the music used for all the football scenes, he uses the soprano voice of Maggie Nesbit to brilliant effect. This wonderful soundtrack won the 1975 Australian Film Institute Award for best score.

    The surround channels were not used.

    The subwoofer supported the score and a few bass effects, but was not a major asset to the listening experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The selection of extras on this DVD are all worthy of inclusion and relevant to the film.

    The menu has a very basic design, with no sound or animation. It is, however, 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Richard Brennan (Executive Producer), Bruce Smeaton (Composer), with moderation by filmbuff, Paul Harris.

    It is very difficult to find decent information on this film, so I looked forward to listening to this commentary very much. Thankfully, the commentary was informative and interesting, with an abundance of anecdotes relevant to the production. The commentary was constant, with Paul Harris chipping in with relevant questions about the film from time to time. Richard and Bruce provided a steady stream of informative and humorous responses. This commentary is an excellent companion to the next listed featurette.

Featurette: On The Bench With The Great Macarthy (21:12)

    This excellent little featurette was obviously produced for the DVD. It features recent interviews with John Jarrett and Hal McElroy (First Assistant Director) regarding their memories of The Great Macarthy. Many interesting and humorous anecdotes from the production are imparted, including some serious discussion as well. Small scene grabs and still images from the film are incorporated with the interviews to form a very enlightening package.

Short Film - Squeakers Mate 1973 (35:10)

    Squeakers Mate is an early short film from director David Baker and was adapted from the story by Barbara Baynton. It's a dark and somewhat depressing tale set in Gippsland, Victoria in the eighteen hundreds. This particular print has extensive film artefacts and fluctuating depth of colour, but is still very watchable. However, the audio quality is quite average, with some passages of dialogue difficult to understand. All things considered, it's still a very worthy inclusion on this DVD and is certainly worth viewing.

Theatrical Trailer - The Great Macarthy (3:34)

Umbrella Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    At the time of this review, there is no R1 version of The Great Macarthy.


The Great Macarthy is an underated Aussie romp, that has many genuinely funny moments, as well as some of true cringe value. The large cast of Australian actors and sporting celebrites from the seventies, provides many memories for those old enough to remember.

    The video and audio transfers are both reasonably good.

    The selection of extras on this disc is surprisingly very good and should please any fan of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE