Crocodile Dundee

Loosely based (if I've heard correctly) on 1942's Tarzan in New York, this movie broke the banks of the pictures on the screen. If any historical point can be isolated as the one in which Australia 'arrived' on the world map in the way a starlet or actor finally joins the A list after struggling in supporting roles for a decade, this is it.

Even at home where we knew the character of Mick Dundee (Hogan) was a checklist of everything Americans loved about Australia (or at least what they thought it was like), we lapped it up. From a $10m budget, the movie earned over US$350m, making Hogan and his co-writer Cornell (known to a generation as Hogan's dumb sidekick 'strop') filthy rich. It was a bittersweet pill for both, as high-powered US lawyers funnelled the lot into offshore tax havens that got Hogan into trouble with the Tax Office 20 years later.

But we all loved it. There was a slight sense of embarrassment at the broad, cartoony characetrisation along with the swelling of pride to see a guy who was then one of our few global superstars have Hollywood wrapped around his finger. Lines like 'that's a knife' entered the cultural lexicon as surely as 'I'll be back', 'may the force be with you' and 'we're going to need a bigger boat'.

So it was with the spirit that Hogan, Cornell and director Peter Faiman pandered to the mythology Americans already loved about Australia. At the time he was trading on his popularity from the shrimp on the barbie tourism ads, and he was destined to do the same for the outback.

Looking back on the cultural impact of the movie, it's surprising to remember how paper thin the plot is. When American reporter Sue (Kozlowski) comes to Australia to travel to the far north and interview a local crocodile poacher, she invites him to visit New York and while he causes mayhem and laughter trying to adjust to life in a city – which he's never been to – the two fall in love. It might not have established the fish out of water comedy, but it galvanised in in a big way.

As an avowed rom-com, it had all the familiar elements, from the final race-against-time-to-declare-love to the horrible boyfriend standing in the way when we all knew Sue and Mick had to end up together. Everything else was a melting pot of gags about a simple bushie not fitting into city life.

Hogan tried and failed dismally to recapture the magic in two sequels, turning Crocodile Dundee into a comic cross between Superman and a million pat TV sitcom detectives. In fact it wasa high point both creatively and critically that he never regained again.

© 2011-2024 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au