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:: Great Aussie Icons: Barry Humphries

The “Great Aussie Icons: Barry Humphries” DVD collection contains two quintessential Australian films starring the well known and loved comedian, satirist, and character actor Barry Humphries.

The first movie is “Barry McKenzie Holds His Own”, which is the sequel to the highly successful “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie”. Barry Crocker returns as the patriotic title character, who adores his Fosters, loves his women, and hates the English. The film begins with Barry and his Auntie Edna (Barry Humphries) travelling to Paris. In an outlandish turn of events, Auntie Edna is kidnapped by the evil Count Plasma (Donald Pleasance), who believes that Edna is the Queen of England. It is up to McKenzie and his drunken cohorts to save the day.

The second movie is “The Great Macarthy”, which stars John Jarratt (in his screen debut) as Macarthy, a young football prodigy in his home town of Kyenton. After a match, he is kidnapped by the South Melbourne Swans football club, who set him up with a job and a new residence. Despite having a successful career as a footballer, Macarthy is having trouble in the romance department, going through a succession of women before falling in love with Miss Russell (Judy Morris), a woman of fine culture who changes Macarthy’s perspective on life.

The humour on hand in both films is the usual type of crude, Aussie larrikin comedy which seems to have been the norm in that era. “Barry McKenzie…” in particular is a racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Catholic travesty that just does not sit well in these politically correct times, and nor should it.

“The Great Macarthy”, meanwhile, features a bland mix of comedy and drama that just does not work, especially since its comedic moments are not funny, and its dramatic moments are excruciatingly boring. The performances in both films are mostly atrocious. Donald Pleasance provides a hideously awful turn, and John Jarratt is a dull presence, so much that I could care less what happens to his character.

Both films are poorly written, shot, edited, and directed, and are a poor example of what the Australian New Wave had to offer.

DVD Extras

Barry McKenzie Holds His Own
Audio Commentary
2003 Interview with Barry Humphries
1974 Documentary: “Barry McKenzie: Ogre or Ocker”
Behind the Scenes
Teaser Trailers
TV Spots
Bazzaism Subtitles

The Great Macarthy
Interview with John Jarratt
Audio Commentary
“Squeaker’s Mate” – a 35 min. short film by Director David Baker
Original Trailer