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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

THE SUNDOWNERS (1960)

Almost magically ‘right’ DownUnder picaresque family story about a roaming sheep herders (Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov, Michael Anderson, Jr) alternately pulling together and against each other as they work up a stake to buy a farm where they can settle down. Dad is dead set against the idea and thinks that, in spite of their protestations, his wife and son may be, too. Mitchum is at some kind of personal peak here, effortlessly in character, while Kerr (his favorite co-star) and Ustinov (in a real acting role, not one of his personal-appearance specialty numbers) are treasurable. But then, the whole cast is exceptional, especially Glynis Johns as Ustinov’s sometime gal. The film was shot on location in Australia, still unusual at the time, but it upholds the best of the old Hollywood studio virtues with director Fred Zinnemann unable to put a foot wrong and lenser Jack Hildyard reveling in the light and land. This is what 'a film for the whole family' is supposed to mean.

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