The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (Umbrella, Single Disc) (1972)
Introduction-Dame Edna Everage
Theatrical Trailer-The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie
CD-ROM-Screenplay of the film - PDF
Main Menu Audio
|Year Of Production||1972|
|Running Time||108:33 (Case: 101)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Bruce Beresford|
Mary Anne Severne
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.70:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
At the beginning of the nineteen seventies the Australian film industry was virtually non-existent. The small amount of film being produced was basically the product of foreign studios, so our identity as a nation was not being fully explored on the big screen. How fitting then that one of the key films to spark the rebirth of our local film industry, chose to heavily satirise and exploit the Australian "ocker" image, together with our love-hate relationship with mother England - that film was The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie.
The idea for the film came from a comic strip created by Barry Humphries and illustrated by Nicholas Garland. Titled, Aussie In Pommieland, the strip was published in the British magazine, Private Eye and told the tale of an aussie, Barry McKenzie and his adventures in the mother country.
Barry Humphries and Bruce Beresford met in London during the early sixties and the pair formed a friendship. At the time, Beresford was working with the British Film Institute, but was keen on returning to Australia to make films. Around this time, Beresford had already written a small screenplay partly based on the comic strip, but could not find anyone interested in producing the film.
When he quit the BFI and returned to Australia, Beresford met up with the then, chairman of the new Film & Television Board, Phillip Adams. Adams was also a good friend of Barry Humphries and was very keen to establish a film project. Between the three, it was decided that the time was right to make a film that was distinctly Australian. So while Adams chased the funds, Beresford and Humphries adapted a screenplay based on the comic strip.
Renowned singer and entertainer, Barry Crocker was cast in the lead role due to his uncanny likeness to the comic strip Barry McKenzie. Barry Humphries also managed to snare many big name British actors and comedians to appear in small or cameo roles. Indeed, the behind-the-scenes story of the film is fascinating and is well documented on the second disc in this DVD presentation.
Barry's adventures are told in a somewhat episodic manner, much of which might push the boundaries of decency for some people. The films foundations are heavily based on the use of colloquialisms; this not only gives the film its unique character, but also much of its humor.
Barry "Bazza" McKenzie (Barry Crocker) inherits two thousand dollars from a relative on the condition that he travels to England immediately to further the cultural and intellectual traditions of the McKenzie dynasty. Against Barry's wishes, his aunt, Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) decides to chaperone him on the journey.
On their arrival in London, Barry can't wait to meet up with an old friend, Curly (Paul Bertram). It isn't long before the Brits have Bazza's back up, when the taxi ride from Heathrow Airport costs a whopping sixty-eight quid.
After being shown to his dingy room by the landlord (Spike Milligan), Curly and Barry go to Earls Court. Here, they meet up with a myriad of ex-pat Aussies, all of whom are hell bent on drinking as much Fosters as possible, all the while, bagging the Poms.
Barry is noticed in the pub by an advertising director, Groove Courtney (Jonathan Hardy), who convinces him to be in a TV commercial for High Camp cigarettes. This leads to an unexpected and misguided fling with his co-star, Caroline Thighs (Maria O'Brien).
Aunty Edna takes Barry to visit acquaintances from the war years. Mr.and Mrs.Gort (Dennis Price & Avice Landone) are secretly excited by the prospect of Barry being a possible good match for their only daughter, Sarah (Jenny Tomasin). Aunty Edna holds similar hopes that Barry might move into the aristocracy. While good impressions are made on both sides, Mr.Gort brings it all undone, when he invites Barry into his den.
On the road, Barry meets up with some hippies who become quite impressed with Barry's unique brand of bawdy songs. They conspire to exploit Barry's music and make large amounts of money based on his naivety.
Aunt Edna introduces Barry to Lesley (Mary Ann Severne), who is the daughter of her bridesmaid, Madge Allsop. Lesley has recently split with her BBC producer husband, Dominic (Peter Cook) and as Barry soon discovers, she is a lesbian. Dominic invites Barry to participate in a live discussion on a BBC television programme. A misunderstanding causes Barry to expose himself on national TV, which also starts an unfortunate chain of events - nothing that plenty of good ol' Fosters can't fix. To avoid any further embarrassment, Aunty Edna and Barry board a Qantas flight back to Australia.
On its release, The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie was unanimously panned by the critics, who didn't much appreciate Barry's wild antics. However, this was certainly no barrier to audiences, who simply devoured the film, making Bazza McKenzie somewhat of a local legend. The success of the film also spawned a sequal in 1974 with, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. A third Barry McKenzie film was later considered, but was never made.
If you want an escape from the restrictions of current day political correctness, then you simply can't go past The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie.
Although not exactly pristine, I doubt that The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie has looked better in any format.
Although the cover slick claims an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the film is actually presented in a ratio of 1.70:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. According to The National Film and Sound Archive, the films correct aspect ratio is 1.85:1.
Generally speaking, this brand new restored print exhibits decent levels of sharpness and clarity throughout. There are a few moments in the film, which display minor levels of film grain. This is no doubt inherent in the source material and is not at all problematic. Blacks were generally clean and noise free. Shadows held an excellent degree of detail.
Colours have been nicely restored. They appear beautifully balanced on the screen, with no adverse issues regarding over-saturation.
There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Apart from a couple of instances of very minor telecine wobble during the first couple of minutes of the film, film-to-video artefacts were reasonably scarce. Film artefacts appeared occasionally in the form of light marks and scratches, but thankfully these were not of an annoying nature. Unobtrusive, reel change markings appear briefly at approximate twenty-minute intervals, with the first two evident at 19:44 and 19:51.
Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available with this edition.
This DVD is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 71:29 and is reasonably well placed within the film.
The audio transfer is very good and well suited to the film.
There is one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).
Dialogue quality was excellent throughout. I had no problems hearing and comprehending any of the dialogue.
There were no noticeable adverse issues with audio sync.
The original music score by Peter Best suits the mood and content of the film very well, with additional music supplied by David McKay. The original score includes a couple of bawdy ballads, which are sung by Barry Crocker in the film. The lyrics to these little ditties were written by Barry Humphries. The film's theme song, The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie, is sung by the late Smacka Fitzgibbon.
The surround channels were not used.
The subwoofer was a minor player, kicking in during music and the rare bass effect.
|Surround Channel Use|
Umbrella also has a two-disc Collector's Edition available, which has a fantastic collection of quality extras. This single disc edition is a far more basic presentation.
The menu is quite basic. It is static; 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of Old Pacific Sea, which is a song from the film.
This recent introduction to The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie from Dame Edna Everage was produced for the Showtime channel.
The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie (2:16)
The entire film screenplay in a 125-page PDF document.
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 Adventures Of Barry McKenzie available.
There is however a previous bare bones local release of the film that is still available. This is not 16x9 enhanced and by all reports the transfer is also quite poor. It is therefore worth making sure you have the correct edition before purchasing.
There is also a UK, all region version of the film available from Guerilla Films. However, this is also non-anamorphic, contains only a theatrical trailer and a brief interview with Barry Humphries.
This all region, single disc edition and the two-disc Collector's Edition from Umbrella are both clear winners on all fronts.
The Adventures Of Barry McKenize finally gets the transfer it deserves. Like it or not, the film played a key role in the resurrection of the Australian film industry during the early seventies and helped local filmmakers to define an identity on the cinema screen.
The transfers are both very good.
The selection of extras on offer in this edition is only basic.
|DVD||JVC XV-N412, using Component output|
|Display||Hitachi 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Panasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS|
|Speakers||Fronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17|