2005 Melbourne International Film Festival : Goodbye Paradise (1983)
7th August 2005
Director: Carl Shulz
Tagline: Australian beach noir
The screening at the 2005 Melbourne International Film Festival was introduced by the writers Bob Ellis and Denny Lawrence. They had some really interesting stories to tell. Bob was Denny’s lecturer at film school and they had quite a good time ‘researching’ this movie in the many pubs and clubs of the Gold Coast.
Denny had wanted to make a movie in the style of a Raymond Chandler novel, but set in Australia. Bob hadn’t heard much of that author, but liked the idea of having the tough guy talk of the traditional noir characters replaced with Australian slang.
They had written several Tom Waits songs into the screenplay, but were overruled by the producer who wanted a dramatic and overblown orchestral score (their description, not mine.)
The film almost didn’t go ahead due to lack of funding, but at the 11 th hour they wrote a telegraph to then NSW Premier Neville Wran saying they had a “great story about that decadent enclave just across the border” and he came to deliver the cheque personally.
It became a minor cult classic upon release, but not in Queensland, where they thought it was making fun of then premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The director also did quite well out of it, going on to direct Careful, He Might Hear You (1987) and Travelling North (1987).
I also liked how they described what the actors have been doing since the movie, particularly how Bob said Lex Marinos had “infested” most forms of the media.
They were both still bitter with Producer Jane Scott, with Bob Ellis saying that she "proved with the movie Shine that she is greedy as she is stupid"
As for the movie itself, they tried to make it as Australian as possible and think that the first two thirds of the movie is good for what it’s worth.
The movie is set in an alternate timeline of the 80s Gold Coast after a Royal Commission into police corruption that left Michael Stacey (Ray Barret) out of a job and with a lot of enemies. While he drowns his sorrows around the various pubs and clubs of the city, he is also working on a “tell all” book of his experiences that has pissed off quite a few more people.
One of his closest friends is the owner of a club he virtually lives at, Kate (Robyn Nevin), who seems to accept him for what he is and still loves him even though they were once engaged.
Senator McReadie (Don Pascoe) meets Stacey one day and says he wants help to find his daughter Kathy (Janet Scrivener). For some reason people keep wanting to kill Stacey or otherwise rough him up, which seems a bit strange for a simple missing persons case.
When Stacey finally finds Kathy, the full plot is finally revealed and even Stacey is surprised to find that involves two of his old friends Todd (John Clayton) and Quiney (Guy Doleman) who served with him during the Malayan Emergency.
What I really enjoyed about the writing for Stacey’s character especially is that you can tell that Bob Ellis put a lot of himself into the role. The writers also took every opportunity to make the story more Australian, right down to the swearing Cocky in one of the final scenes.
The supporting cast also did a great job, with many faces I recognise from movies and television in the 80s, but they are not that busy any more. I particularly liked Tex Morton as Godfrey, Paul Chubb as Curly and Guy Doleman’s performance as Quiney.
I understand that this movie is fairly hard to find, but as the screening at the festival was a new print, hopefully there is going to be a re-release of this move on DVD fairly soon.