The F.J. Holden (1977)

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Released 7-Nov-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Mike Thornhill (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Oz, The Chain Reaction, Return Home, Puberty Blues
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 100:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Thornhill
Australian Film Comm
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Terry Larsen
Vicki Arkley
Robert Baxter
Paul Couzens
Eva Dickinson
Frankie J. Holden
Maggie Kirkpatrick
Harry Lawrence
Ray Marshall
Karlene Rogerson
Graham Rouse
Carl Stever
Sigrid Thornton
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Jim Manzie

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

      The F.J. Holden was Michael Thornhill's second feature film as director and marked quite a change from his first film, Between Wars, in 1974. The F.J. Holden was shot in late 1976, using a social realistic style which at times encompassed all the traits of a candid documentary.

    The young lead actors used in the film were not experienced, apart from acting in local school productions. This faithful act of casting works well, apart from a couple of the more dramatic moments of the film, when the actors' limitations are more apparent. A very young Sigrid Thornton  makes her feature debut with this film in the minor role of Wendy. Of course, Sigrid has gone on to enjoy a highly respected acting career and is a much loved personality of Australian film, stage and television.

   Terry Larsen's screenplay is very controlled in its use of dialogue, which allows the actions of the characters to carry more of the narrative. This adds to the genuine feel of many scenes and to the honest and realistic depiction of the characters' lives.

    Before the film's release in 1977, the producers had trouble obtaining the desired M rating from the censorship board. Due to the nature of a couple of sex scenes and some strong language, the film was given an R rating, which would not have pleased the film's investors. A successful appeal was lodged with the Australian Film Board of Review and an M certificate was granted to the film, although all states except Victoria and New South Wales used their overriding censorship powers and retained the original R rating.

    The F.J. Holden had a simultaneous premiere in April 1977 at the Chullora Drive In in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and the Rapallo Cinemas in both Sydney and Melbourne. The Chullora Drive In added the novel twist of allowing any patrons arriving in either an F.J. or F.X. Holden free admission.

    Kevin (Paul Couzens) works at a local car wrecking yard. He lives with his mother, father and younger sister in their modest and well kept suburban home in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. Kevin drives a car that is an icon of Australian culture, the F.J. Holden. Much of his spare time is spent with best friend Bob (Carl Stever), cruising the bus stops and streets of Bankstown, hoping to attract the eye of the local ladies.

    Anne (Eva Dickinson ) works in a clothes shop at Bankstown Square. She also takes responsibility for caring for her two much younger brothers, lending support to her hard working father.

    Anne meets Kevin through some mutual friends at a local pub and he offers to drive her home - an offer she gratefully accepts. Some days later, Kevin is again reacquainted with Anne when he and Bob go down to the pub to play some pool. After an enjoyable night, the three leave the hotel together, equipped with a supply of alcohol. Kevin parks the car in an isolated area and gives the amorous Anne and Bob some privacy. When Bob has finished in the back seat with Anne, she then also consents to sex with Kevin.

    Despite her brief interlude with Bob, Anne and Kevin soon develop a relationship and life seems great. They both survive the obligatory meeting of the parents, go to the local illegal street drags, experience upmarket dining and generally enjoy the experiences that come with a new relationship. But, the thin line between Aussie mateship and respecting a girlfriend takes the relationship to the brink.

    While The F.J. Holden is by no means a masterpiece, it is a film that has considerable merit for its honest portrayal of life in 1970's Australian suburbia.

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Transfer Quality


    Considering the limitations of the source material, the video transfer is quite good and is clearly better than any previous VHS version you may have seen over the years.

    The film is presented on this DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDB incorrectly reports The F.J. Holden's original aspect ratio as 2.35:1. With the kind assistance of The National Film and Sound Archive, the film's director Michael Thornhill actually confirmed the correct aspect ratio as 1.85:1.

    Overall the video transfer exhibits good levels of sharpness and clarity, with some occasional scenes displaying mild softness, especially in backgrounds. This is a feature which is inherent in the source material and is not a transfer issue. Blacks were generally clean, with only the occasional and minor presence of grain. The detail displayed in shadows also varied in quality, but were generally quite reasonable.

    The colours in the film have a distinctive seventies look. The soft and subtle tones are reminiscent of many films of the era. They are well balanced on the disc, with no oversaturation issues.

    There were no MPEG artefacts on the DVD. Film-to video artefacts were minimal. Reel change markings are clearly noticed throughout the film, beginning at 35:23 and 35:30, then reappearing at approximate twenty minute intervals thereafter. These are typically very brief and were not at all problematic in viewing terms. With this being a brand new 16x9 transfer, film artefacts were thankfully insignificant.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change is very poorly placed at 57:58 and is quite disruptive to the flow of the scene.

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


    The audio transfer is a good remaster of the original mono audio track.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s), which is surround encoded, and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

    I had no problems hearing and understanding the dialogue in the film and audio sync was excellent.

    The original music for the film is credited to Jim Manzie. The title song of the film is the catchy My Right Of Way which is sung by Frankie J. Holden. Other music used in the film comes from various popular Australian musicians of the era. The bands suitably featured on the soundtrack include Ol'55, Skyhooks, The Renee Geyer Band and Stars .

    The surrounds came to life with screeching tyres, roaring engines, music and also quiet ambient night sounds, such as chirping crickets. While not constantly active, the surrounds were used in appropriate moments of the film.

    The subwoofer was moderately used, mainly adding bass enhancement to car engines and the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Apart from an audio commentary, the extras are rather light on.


    The menu is static and quite basic. It features a mixed sample of music, sound effects and dialogue from the film and is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - Michael Thornhill  (Director) moderated by film writer, Peter Galvin.

    While this is not one of the most enlightening commentaries you're ever likely to listen to, some interesting information can still be gleaned from it. The film's director, Michael Thornhill, seems at first to be a little reluctant about his participation in the commentary. However, he quickly warms to the task, providing answers where possible to Peter Galvin's questions. Michael's memory of much of the production is clouded, which is quite understandable, considering nearly thirty years have passed. His answers are occasionally short and without much elaboration - perhaps another cast or crew member could have joined in the commentary to help fill in some of the gaps?

Theatrical Trailer (1:24)

    The F.J. Holden

Other Aussie Trailers

  • Oz (2:30)
  • The Chain Reaction (3:24)
  • Return Home (1:56)
  • Puberty Blues (2:11)

    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 F.J. Holden available.


        The F.J. Holden provides a sentimental journey back to the more carefree and less complicated era of the 1970s in Australian suburbia. Those of us old enough to remember the era should find much to reminisce about.

        The transfers are both quite good.

        Apart from the audio commentary, the extras are light on.

  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Saturday, February 11, 2006
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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