Journey to the dark heart of the Australian male in this '70s cult classic
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Australia’s inordinately proud of its larrikin image: a fair go for all, take nothing too seriously, anything for a mate. 1971’s Wake in Fright is the other side of that same coin.
Ted Kotcheff’s film centres on a British schoolteacher (Gary Bond) who spends a night in a remote town in the outback. The “aggressive hospitality” of the men around him, though, makes it impossible to resist his weight in beer. Soon he’s adopted by Doc (Donald Pleasance) and his mates for a bender that will test the kind of man he really is.
In westerns, doctors and teachers are forces of civilisation. In Wake in Fright, that battle’s already lost. It’s only ever one drink away from becoming a fully fledged horror movie.