Monday 12 April 2021

On Blu-ray - David Hare recommends ' without a blink' a new edition of Sandy Harbutt's STONE (Australia, 1974)

Some of the unforgettable faces from Sandy Harbutt's 1974 Sydney bikie movie, Stone.

Rebecca Gilling (above), Ken Shorter an ex-cop who became an actor and whose role draws somewhat from his own life, the irrepressible NIDA comedian Drew Forsythe and the Indigenous actor and star of dozens of movies and TV roles, Bindi Williams (below). 

To say nothing of a huge, stellar cast of Sydney chapter Hell's Angels riding some sublime vintage Kawasakis, and countless other Oz movie stars including Gary McDonald, Bill Hunter, Terry Bader, Reg Evans, Bill Hunter and an unrecognisable Helen Morse.
The movie is an emblem of, and a love song to, the greatest city in the world Sydney was in the process of becoming through the sixties and seventies. This precious golden age gave something unique to everyone who lived through it through sheer force of cultural fusion.
Harbutt's movie was made for not much more than 100 grand in 70s' dollars which is barely a million now. It made back over seven million over the years, not only because or despite the admiration for it by exploitation gurus like la Tarantino But it holds a particularly central place in the hearts of old Sydneysiders of a certain generation.  

It may not have the poise and stylistic proficiency of Philip Noyce's stunning Heatwave, another great film about Sydney but Harbutt's range and control of the material is breathtaking and, frankly, nothing in it seems dated, Ken Shorter's hairstyle (below) notwithstanding. 

The new Umbrella Blu-ray in Oz (region "B") has been scrupulously restored to an original near hypnogenically saturated Eastman stock perhaps given premium LSD inspired lab work by the team at the old Atlab facility. It's a stunner. The print is the 99 minute director's cut, with the legendary 120 minute cut apparently forever lost.
Recommended without a blink.

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