Colin Friels plays a cameraman on crappy TV commercials (Do we even have Chili Dogs here in Australia? Sounds a little Yankee Doodle Dandy, to me), whose father might have died seeing too much of the goings on during the nuclear tests in Australia during the 50s (which were on Aboriginal land, angering the Human Rights activists), though not enough proof has arisen to hold the Australian Federal Government accountable for any wrongdoing. Friels starts to nose around looking for the truth perhaps to his own peril, and finds an ally in crusty old Donald Pleasence, a hermit-like survivor of the tests. Jack Thompson plays an imposing spook, very interested in Friels’ activities. Natalie Bate is Friels’ on-and-off again wife (they have a kid together), a journo.
Directed by Bruce Myles and Michael Pattinson, this 1987 Aussie political conspiracy thriller (based to some degree, on factual information) has some fine moments and performances, but never quite hits the bullseye. Friels makes for a likeably roguish hero, Thompson is always great (and it’s always a pleasure to see Indigenous actor Bob Maza as a sort of Charlie Perkins-type of politician/activist), but the real scene-stealer is a ringer- Donald Pleasence in a wonderfully showy part, voice-box and all. Great cameos by lots of familiar faces from Aussie TV too; Soapie veteran Roger Oakley can be seen, comedic actors Mark Mitchell and Kym Gyngell (who frequently acted together in Col’n Carpenter comedy sketches on TV’s “Comedy Company”) playing detectives, and that’s “Neighbours” and “Prisoner” star Andrewartha as a suspicious neighbour at the end.
Overall, the subject matter probably deserved a bit better treatment (especially if you’re familiar with the whole Maralinga deal), but it’s not bad. The screenplay is by Jan Sardi and Mac Gudgeon (the latter co-wrote the America’s Cup flick “Wind”, co-starring Thompson).